The president’s late embrace of competence

Jim Geraghty of National Review Online muses on the recent news that President Obama is focusing on competent management of government.

“For the remainder of President Obama’s term, what matters most to his success is what Washington watches least: competent governmental management,” wrote John Harwood in the New York Times on Monday, noting that the administration recently added three “competent, low-key managers.”

That’s fabulous news, although one can wonder why it took until the sixth year of an eight-year presidency for President Obama and his staff to recognize that “competent governmental management” is “what matters most to his success.”

Here are just a few recent examples of . . . not quite competent management:

Egregiously Unqualified Donor Diplomats: The American Foreign Service Association threatened to sue the State Department if it didn’t release the “Certificates of Demonstrated Competence” that the agency customarily fills out for each ambassadorial nominee. The group, representing career foreign-service workers and diplomatic professionals, took this extraordinary step after a series of ambassadorial appointees embarrassingly demonstrated no knowledge of their assigned countries. …

Deadlines Ignored, Missed, and Pushed Back: The Congressional Research Service examined and documented every provision with a specific deadline within the health-care law and the administration’s actions taken as of April 15, 2014, and found that the Department of Health and Human Services had missed more than half of the 83 deadlines that had passed since March 2011.

More Deadlines Ignored, Missed, and Pushed Back: Regulators have missed deadlines on 128 of the 398 rules mandated by the Dodd-Frank financial-regulation law, and only 206 rules have been completed, according to law firm Davis Polk & Wardwell LLP. The law passed in 2010.

A Scofflaw Culture in Organizations Enforcing the Law: It would be funny if it weren’t so maddening: “The Internal Revenue Service handed out a combined $2.8 million in monetary awards to more than 2,800 agency employees recently disciplined for conduct issues. The Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration also found more than 1,100 of the disciplined employees were given cash incentives or time off even after they failed to pay their taxes, according to an audit released by the IRS’s auditor Tuesday.”

This raises the question: Just what does an IRS employee have to do to not get a bonus?

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