Answering the Challenge of a Bureaucratic Government System – Nu Leadership Series

“ Without initiative, leaders are simply workers in leadership positions.”
Bo Bennett

As 21st century organizations tackle this rapid, changing environment, the federal government is stuck in a holding pattern. The federal government is designed around rigid structure and protocol. Therefore, even good ideas are held captive by this bureaucratic configuration. For example, the federal government must deal with a flexible telecommute program. Telework and telecommute are considered the same in this discussion.

There are over 140,000 federal employees working in a telecommuting environment in 2004. Many agencies cite telecommuting programs as an effective management tool. Telecommuting provides several key benefits including the promotion of employee work/life balance and reduced commuting times. In addition, there is a reduction in office space requirements and travel expenditures. However, when there is no “face-to-face” interaction between leaders and their teams, key performance and personnel management issues arise.

Therefore, the government hesitates about a government-wide implementation. According to a study by the Cyber Security Industry Alliance, the federal government has made little progress in implementing a telework program government wide, despite fifteen years of presidential directives, legislative mandates, and pilot programs. Davis, author of Future Perfect, argues that organizations that are designing new organizational models to compete with today’s environment will never get ahead of the market.

Many people don’t understand why good ideas are not fully implemented in the federal structure. Leaders need to be both persistent and patient when implementing organizational changes. Therefore, it is essential that federal managers understand how to realign its organizations to take advantage of such program as teleworking.


Barr, S. (2005, December 12). A growing number of employees are staying away from the office., p. B02.

Crandall, W., & Gao, L. (2005). S.A.M. Management Journal, 70(3), 30.37.

Cyber Security Industry Alliance (2005). Making telework a federal priority: Security is not the issue, 1-9.

Davis, S. (1996). Future Perfect. New York: Addison-Wesley.

© 2006 by Daryl D. Green