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al security protections simply doesn't mesh with strategies designed to meet the nation's broad needs for talent. In addition to these three core agencies, a fourth, the Office of Head Start, now in the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), might also be considered for inclusion, given how important Head Start is to the school readiness of vulnerable children. Also, given the mixed quality of Head Start programs nationally, a move to a talent-focused agency would enable the program to refocus its mission on providing rigorous early-childhood education, rather than child care. This shift is a more complex nut to crack, in part because Head Start is tightly intertwined with other benefit programs housed in the Administration for Children and Families at the HHS. T he Department of Talent would create the possibility of several important outcomes. One is greater efficiency and focus. Think about an agency that could develop and implement strategies for high-quality, locally managed workforce development programs, and highly focused global recruitment strategies for meeting the nation's workforce gaps. Ideally, there would be a coordinated approach that seamlessly relates K-12 standards to learning outcomes frameworks for education and training beyond high school. Greater efficiency also ties to the issue of effectiveness- the actual success of the programs and strategies being managed by the agency. The Department of Talent would tie together approaches that have been disconnected, and bureaucratically entrenched, and replace them with ones focused on outcomes. The net result would be an agency actually aimed at the true outcome of the policies inherent in the current disconnected mess-talent-rather than an agency that is focused on processes and tools like "education," "training," "visas," and so on. The former Massachusetts governor and presidential contender Mitt Romney famously spoke about his desire to staple a permanent resident card on every foreign college graduate's diploma. The idea, simply put, was to keep the talent we help create in our colleges and universities- a fairly unobjectionable idea on its own. Yet within that idea lies a host of questions that would be difficult for an agency that issues visas to answer. In what areas does the United States have workforce shortages, now and in the foreseeable future, that would be best served by issuing such visas? How do these foreign student graduates compare to the talent being developed in our own citizens? Shouldn't an agency that has a better sense of our talent needs be positioned to assess workforce shortages and thereby make decisions about immigration status? Internationally, several countries have created agencies that link both knowledge transmission-education and training-with knowledge development, in areas like technology, scientific achievement, and innovation. One example is Kenya's Ministry of Higher Education, Science, and Technology, which oversees everything from teacher training to schoolhouse bricks and mortar, to childhood education, to higher education, to polytechnic training. Poland, South Sudan, Slovenia, and South Korea, just to name a handful, have similar agencies. In America's federal government, we have seen agencies move away from collaboration and consolidation. "There was some beauty in having a Health, Education and Welfare Department," Martha Kanter told me. That agency, which closed in 1979, gave way to separate federal departments, one for education and one for health and human services, and, as a result, created more layers of bureaucracy as well as the competition Kanter mentioned earlier. But what if we reversed this formula in pursuit of talent? The Department of Talent would send a powerful message to the people of the United States, employers, and our global partners and competitors that the federal government is serious and strategic about its interest in developing, harnessing, and deploying talent in the country. It also would send a message about government and its potential to do good, if properly focused and aimed at clear results. Mitch The Purdue president and former Indiana governor Mitch Daniels put it bluntly in a 2011 speech to CPAC: "We should distinguish carefully skepticism about big government from contempt for all government." Daniels, the former U.S. Office of Management and Budget director, Indiana governor, and fiscal conservative hero whose current assignment is as a university president, was fond of saying during his gubernatorial tenure that he didn't want to eliminate all government; he just wanted to make sure that we have the government we actually need. As he put it in his typically blunt way at a 2011 speech to the Conservative Political Action Committee, "We should distinguish carefully skepticism about big government from contempt for all government." The U.S. Department of Talent might be one small step toward proving that government can work in a way that serves our shared interests as a country. Jamie Merisotis is president and CEO of the Lumina Foundation and author of America Needs Talent: Attracting, Educating & Deploying the 21st-Century Workforce, published by RosettaBooks, from which this article is adapted. Washington Monthly 61

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