EPE TIG Week: Katherine Dawes on Thinking of Trees and Transitions

Hi, I’m Katherine Dawes from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. I’m currently on a year-long assignment as a Visiting Scholar at The George Washington University Trachtenberg School of Public Policy and Public Administration (find me at kdawes [at] gwu [dot] edu).

Earth Day 2016 theme is “Trees for the Earth. Let’s get planting.” Everyone knows that trees changing with the season are perfect metaphors for transitions. Every four to eight years, as spring trees start blooming, evaluators in the United States’ federal sector start contemplating our major upcoming seasonal change – the transition to a new Presidential Administration. We wonder: What will be our new federal evaluation goals and policies?  How will we change (or continue) our work to meet the needs and expectations of a new, energetic Administration?

Aside from tree leaves, what On Earth can an evaluator read to learn what the next Administration cares about (or is hearing from national experts) concerning evaluation, management, accountability, data… any issue that will directly or indirectly influence my work?

To understand the forest…err…big picture of U.S. presidential transitions and to learn what prospective federal leaders are considering planting, veteran transition watchers have many Rad Resources. Some of my favorites for evaluation-relevant info:

  • The White House Transition Project provides information to prospective federal leaders to help “[streamline] the process of transition from one administration to the next.” The Project coordinates with government agencies and non-government groups like the Partnership for Public Service and National Academy of Public Administration.
  • The National Academy of Public Administration’s Transition 2016 publishes articles and papers intended “to inform incoming national leaders about the policy and management challenges facing the nation.”
  • The Partnership for Public Service established the Center for Presidential Transition supporting the “Ready to Govern®” initiative. It has a repository for documentation from previous transitions and “shares management recommendations for the new administration to address government’s talent and operational challenges…”
  • As part of Ready to Govern, the IBM Center for the Business of Government joined with the Partnership in launching the Management Roadmap. The Roadmap presents “a set of management recommendations for the next administration – enhancing the capacity of government to deliver key outcomes for citizens.”

Daily news organizations and social networks with a federal focus supply fantastic transition information in short, readable bites – check out Government Executive and GovLoop. In addition to daily reporting, Federal News Radio co-sponsors longform interviews that are available as podcasts.  A recent interview with Professor Martha Kumar, a White House Transition project director, shares the rich history of U.S. presidential transitions. (You can also find fascinating interviews focused on program evaluation.)

Share your Rad Resources for government transitions. Let’s get reading!

The American Evaluation Association is celebrating Environmental Program Evaluation TIG Week with our colleagues in the Environmental Program Evaluation Topical Interest Group. The contributions all this week to aea365 come from our EPE TIG members. Do you have questions, concerns, kudos, or content to extend this aea365 contribution? Please add them in the comments section for this post on the aea365 webpage so that we may enrich our community of practice. Would you like to submit an aea365 Tip? Please send a note of interest to aea365@eval.org. aea365 is sponsored by the American Evaluation Association and provides a Tip-a-Day by and for evaluators.

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