Washington Monthly - September/October 2015 - 57

WHY WE NEED A U.S. DEPARTMENT OF TALENT If we want a twenty-first-century workforce, we need to tear up Washington's org chart. By Jamie Merisotis Monte Wolverton I f you tell an audience these days that the way to solve big national problems is to reorganize the federal government, you're liable to get laughed offstage. And I can understand why. Not only is faith in the federal government at near-historic lows, but the record of some past efforts at federal reorganization does not necessarily inspire confidence. However, I'm going to argue here that one of the keys to making America a more educated and economically competitive nation is to take a number of different federal agencies and combine them into a new entity, which I will call the U.S. Department of Talent. Selling people on this idea won't be easy, given the poor track record on this front. Take the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), created by George W. Bush after 9/11 and generally seen by experts as something of a disaster. An agglomeration of twenty-two already-existing federal agencies, from the Federal Emergency Management Agency to the Border Patrol, the new department has struggled for years to define its mission and coordinate its constituent parts. And while it has made efforts to improve in recent years, the DHS still has the lowest morale of any federal department and remains on the Government Accountability Washington Monthly 57

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