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Recruiting for American presidential hopefuls

Founding Fathers at the signing of the Declaration of Independence
Founding Fathers at the signing of the Declaration of Independence

Only the most superior candidates need apply.

What citizens need and want is a president who will lead a collaborative government of two parties to address the nation’s necessities while optimizing return on national resources. Presidents have a complex job managing a large government enterprise that is made even more complex by the American political system. Governance comes from the Constitution and a myriad of laws and regulations that are in a state of continuous adjustment to align with the needs of today while leaders and legislators anticipate the future.

This is not a job for “Joe Plumber.” It isn’t a job for a professional politician who has not accomplished anything outside politics. It is not a job for an average person to grow into anymore than it is for an intellectual to practice into.

America has been lucky and unlucky with its presidents, and that is because too much is left to luck in the process. Americans can change that by insisting upon better qualifications and superior candidates.

Erase the slates that you may have heard about or have in your mind. Start by considering the job of president of the United States.

“A U. S. President Job Model

It is like a job description and more. A 'job model' is an accounting for outcomes expected from a position produced by incumbents performing job tasks in accordance with business rules, laws and regulations governing the position, in this case, President of the United States.

In developing a job model, we begin by identifying the highest purpose expected from the position.

Purpose of President of the United States: As Chief Executive and Commander in Chief of the entire federal government enterprise of the nation, the single most important outcome is to optimize performance from all of the departments and agencies under command of this position.

There are a number of ways that one might describe results from optimizing performance such achieving the highest return on cost as suggested by Daniel S. Appleton, for instance.

Of course, one might argue that 'providing for the common defense' of the nation is most important. Reality is that defending the nation from tyranny requires both military and economic strategy. A nation for which the economy fails to produce sufficient wealth and opportunity for all can be as undermining to security as external threats from terrorists and governments. Being President of the United States of America is a balancing act between these strategies, competing for limited resources.

A president enters the office that is in perpetual motion. The world and nation doesn’t stop to await a new administration, yet there are many contradictions and barriers to this notion. For instance, one of the most important things that a president can do to achieve optimal performance is to select and appoint the best qualified executives for each department under presidential command. Doing this, the president can delegate with confidence and achieve a multiplier effect as an extension of the CEO.

Trouble stems from: 1) candidate appointees must be identified and vetted prior to the president assuming office which means that actual recruitment must occur well before the candidate has won the election; 2) preliminary vetting must be followed by government security clearance and appointments that are subject to Congressional approval.

Bear in mind that candidate appointees may want to keep their prospective appointments confidential from their current employers just like anyone seeking a new job.

For a presidential candidate to prepare for office before being elected, if that happens, they must form a non-profit organization and obtain funding for its operation to accomplish preliminary work that is developing the President’s management agenda (or equivalent term) and recruiting prospective staff. Today, it is reasonable for voters to have transparent vision into this preliminary activity as it is evidence of the candidate’s managerial ability.

This means that a president’s initial performance is greatly constrained by how well prepared the candidate is to assume office and the candidates relationship with those who must approve nominations to positions. This can be accomplished swiftly or may be an inordinately long process with direct effect on the president’s ability to manage effectively.

Presidents have the balance of two years to set up an administration and to demonstrate competent and effective leadership before the re-election cycle begins again. By the third and fourth year of the initial term in office, the nation should have confidence in appreciating the merit of the president and administration.

Incumbents that perform well in the first term accrue unique credentials that are hard to match by new candidates as “incumbent experience” accounts for “potential” extra credit in the candidate evaluation process. If a president has performed well, the potential may be realized to a positive degree. If not, incumbent performance may be a negative factor.

Because electing a President is a costly investment by both voters and candidates, favor usually goes to keeping the incumbent in office unless there is something radically wrong. Disrupting the flow and continuity of government without good reason isn’t prudent. Therefore, voters must be very deliberate in their approach to selecting a president.

For voter citizens of the USA, it is important to understand that the scope and scale of the nation’s needs are large and complex, so much so that their life cycles are often 20 years of more, far longer than any elected officials terms in office. That is systemically and therefore inherently problematic. A president may be on the right track in addressing a problem and out of office before the job and outcomes are realized. Therefore, accomplishments are produced in increments and voters must evaluate them and their elected office-holders on a moving timeline and with an incremental scale. Doing that is complicated and demands exceedingly higher competence by the voters themselves.

Because the business of managing a democracy is more complex as society becomes more advanced, we need books like this one to help inform the electorate as well as prompting candidates and incumbents to be more accountable and transparent.

Reviewing, a presidential candidate should be evaluated based on preparedness for the office that includes having a qualified cabinet staged at the ready, and being able to discuss the qualifications of candidates for secretary and department directorships.

In the course of a campaign, the presidential candidate will identify issues and priorities that becomes a part of the president’s agenda. The presidential candidate will discuss strategies and policies associated with all major departments for which the president is responsible.

As chief executive of the nation, one can describe the position as being manager. The classic definition of management is to plan, organize, lead, and control. These are general activities that the job model will make more specific in context of the president’s position in government.

A president is given a legacy of bureaucracy that is a product of legislation that produces programs, processes, and their associated attributes of people and technology that perform work to produce certain outcomes. Bureaucracy need not be a negative term.

Bureaucracy: “a large organization characterized by hierarchy, fixed rules, impersonal relationships, rigid adherence to procedures, and a highly specialized division of labor.”

The legacy lasts as long as the law creating it allows, subject to change based on how well it performs. Some other president worked with congress to put the legacy in place. Some of the legacy is essential and some is obsolete. Some works well and other parts are deficient. It is up to the president to evaluate what needs attention, change, and improvement.

One challenge is that much of the government bureaucracy becomes linked to legislated mandates, most of which are funded, and some of which are un-funded. Optimizing performance must be accomplished with this constraint in mind among others.

Change and improvement is constrained by the nation’s capacity for accomplishing things. Determining the nation’s capacity for change and improvement is a part of the president’s responsibility.

Today, there are representatives in both parties that call for the dramatic scaling back of departments and outright elimination that include the Department of Commerce and Department of Education, for instance. Nothing is sacred.

Yet, before people begin to consider which parts of government need improving and right-sizing, government must employ state of the art methods and technologies for government enterprise performance improvement as described in Smart Data, Enterprise Performance Optimization Strategy. A presidential candidate should be knowledgeable about and sufficiently experienced in enterprise performance improvement initiatives, preferably with successful past performance on the resume. This experience can be from public or private sectors.

Continuous improvement in a democratic form of government comes from the following:

  • Changing, amending, and retiring and replacing present laws
  • Presidential directives and memos communicating policies and policy guidance
  • Administration of directives and memos as they too require changing, amending, retiring, and replacing
  • Strategic planning
  • Budgeting and funding requests

All of these things are a product of the president’s management approach and government processes and routines governing them.

Much of what a president does demands knowledge about Constitutional law and implementation of policy through regulations. Therefore, voters might be prudent to favor candidates that are trained in the law. On the other hand, argument can be made that it is desirable for candidates to have demonstrate success in managing enterprise outside the legal profession.

There is a comprehensive schedule of government activities some of which are annual, others are quadrennial, and some are incremental and overlap a president’s one or two-terms in office as it overlaps Representatives’ and Senators’ terms of office. This overlapping of rolling and on-going activities make the business of government complex and uniquely different from commercial business practices in many ways, though similar as well. Our point in saying that is to inform voters that 1) there is unique value from candidates having had government experience and 2) there is unique value from candidates possessing commercial executive experience.

A president, over a maximum of two four-year terms has an opportunity to go through a complete government cycle of planning, budgeting, and funding one time. One term is insufficient to complete a full cycle because it starts with a carryover and ends with a carry forward that can be completed only in a second term. Therefore, voters must choose presidents very carefully because false starts are costly and disruptive.

In accordance with good modeling practices, we will group activities into six primary tasks, each of which can be broken down (decomposed) into lower level subtasks and details. Understand that tasks may be iterative and on-going in their performance. While there are relationships among them, they are not necessarily sequential, though logic suggests some sequential relevance.

Throughout the range of tasks, the President analyzes, evaluates, approves and directs allocation of the government’s resources to perform work and produce required outcomes. Only Congress can fund the work of government. Achieving the highest return on cost is a president’s responsibility. The following tasks are a straw man, a place to begin as voters think through the process independently.

What is one the first things a president must have to do to get started with a new administration? The president needs a staff, an organization, a plan and a schedule. So let’s get started.

The Job Model for President of the United States

  • Task 1: Planning, staffing, organizing, and scheduling Presidential work and government functions

Subtask 1.1: Recruit and staff the cabinet and department and agency appointments
Subtask 1.2: Conduct cabinet meetings to develop and implement strategies and policies for accomplishing the nation’s workload and issues
Subtask 1.3: Define the nation’s outcomes and priorities for each major department and agency produce the nation’s strategic plan

  • Task 2: Develop the President’s management agenda and budget and reconcile with Congress

Subtask 2.1: Assume responsibility for the legacy agenda and make adjustments to align with the President’s management agenda or equivalent
Subtask 2.2: Work with cabinet heads to develop performance plans and schedules
Subtask 2.3: Work with Congressional leadership and collaborate to implement the nation’s strategy, plans, and programs

  • Task 3: Initiate and approve legislation

Subtask 3.1: Propose bills to Congress
Subtask 3.2: Consult and advise Congress
Subtask 3.3: Collaborate with industry and business leaders in the development of policies and regulations of all kinds
Subtask 3.4: Approve or veto legislation
Subtask 3.5: Request a declaration for war from Congress

  • Task 4: Implement plans and manage on-going operations

Subtask 4.1: Review and evaluate programs that include new acquisitions and on-going operations
Subtask 4.2: Evaluate programs including legacy processes and engineer new ones for accomplishing and producing required and promised outcomes
Subtask 4.3: Continuously improve

  • Task 5: Report progress and discuss issues with the American public to keep them informed
  • Task 6: Meet with heads of state and participate in international meetings and conferences for heads of state

Subtask 6.1: Participate in international economic conferences
Subtask 6.2: Respond to international crises and requests for assistance
Subtask 6.3: Promote democratic process and reforms

Regarding Task 6, I initially did not identify any specific subtasks, though prompted by world events: Middle East revolutions and Japan’s compound natural disaster, I tried to accommodate these areas of responsibility.

Observe that subtask 3.5 is a request to Congress for war. The President does not declare war as that is a congressional responsibility.

“A declaration of war is a formal declaration issued by a national government indicating that a state of war exists between that nation and another. For the United States, Article One, Section Eight of the Constitution says "Congress shall have power to ... declare War". However, that passage provides no specific format for what form legislation must have in order to be considered a "Declaration of War" nor does the Constitution itself use this term. Many[who?] have postulated "Declaration(s) of War" must contain that phrase as or within the title. Others oppose that reasoning. In the courts, the United States First Circuit Court of Appeals in Doe vs. Bush said: "[T]he text of the October Resolution itself spells out justifications for a war and frames itself as an 'authorization' of such a war."[1] in effect saying a formal Congressional "Declaration of War" was not required by the Constitution.” Presidents often get into trouble when the line is not clear between formal war and skirmishes of different kinds.”

How to Select an American President, James A. George © 2011 All Rights Reserved

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