Wednesday, February 04, 2009

The Chief Non-Performance Officer

So, we won’t have Nancy Killefer to kick around anymore.

To be fair to Ms. Killefer, her problems – to the extent that we know about them – seem pretty trivial compared to Tom Daschle, Tim Geithner, Charlie Rangel, and Al Franken’s.

Furthermore, she seems to have fixed the problem relatively quickly, and well before expectation of a federal appointment.

Still, What’s a Chief Performance Officer? The byproduct of the endless stream of management consultants and business practices books, the search for the latest and greatest buzzword. Just follow the downward spiral from the old Chairman and President lingo down to:

  • Chief Executive Officer”

  • Chief Operations Officer”

  • Chief Financial Officer”

  • Chief Information Officer”

  • Chief Marketing Officer”

  • Chief Technology Officer”

As you go down the list, faddishness increases. Management fads come and go (Anybody remember Total Quality Management? Management by Walking Around? The 60 Second Manager? Anybody? Anybody?), so it's generally best not to get too wound up over the program; it'll be gone when a new batch of consultants comes in.

And now the “Chief Performance Officer”.

I suppose that it's not quite as actively harmful as “Chief Sustainability Officer”, an moniker bestowed on some crony with no obvious qualifications, and one who's probably failed at every other management task to boot.

Too many chiefs, no indians. If everybody’s a chief, nobody is.

But back to Ms. Killefer. As the Federal Chief Performance Officer, one assumes that she’s really the Chief Bureaucrat, Sort of a Chief Czarina of all of the other Czars we’re going to get.

The stated portfolio will be to ring efficiency and waste out of the government. Good luck with that; most of the waste was put there on purpose as a payoff to some liberal constituency or another.

Perhaps Ms. Killefer came to her senses and just needed an excuse to avoid a job that's less consequential than, say, the Secretary of Commerce.