The Times reports today that President-Elect Obama will appoint America's first Chief Performance Officer, to scour budgets line by line for inefficiencies and waste.
While positions already exist in the federal government to monitor the efficacy of programs and initiatives (such as the Congressional 'Government Accountability Office' and 'Office of Management and the Budget' ) this will be the first executive position assessing federal spending for waste, and many hope that Nancy Killefer (Obama's candidate for the role) will have a significant impact. The odds are stacked against her, but with a $1.2 trillion budget deficit, planned tax cuts and bold spending plans, President Obama is going to need every penny Ms Killefer can find.
So in light of the burgeoning deficit in the UK, and the waste and inefficiencies in our government, would such a position be a sensible appointment over here. In principle, yes. With complete access to all Departmental, agency and public body accounts, a platform from which to publicise waste and suggest reform, and some powers to actually make cuts, a UK Chief Performance Officer might be a good thing. But if the position was relegated to just making suggestions and pushing for 'efficiency drives' then the job is useless. And this is just what a British version would be. As the Gershon review has revealed, the forces allied behind the status quo (unnecessary quangos, programs, jobs) would make the job of an effective 'Performance Officer' next to impossible. Cuts can and should be made. There is chaff to separate from the wheat. Obama's appointment of Nancy Killefer acknowledges this. It is high time the UK Government did too.