With the new-found ability to focus on just one major Federal executive post instead of two, Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Deputy Director Margaret Weichert said today she is turning her full-time focus to advancing several aspects of the President’s Management Agenda published by the Trump administration last year.

Weichert had also been acting director of the Office of Personnel Management (OPM), but Dale Cabannis officially took over as OPM Director last Friday, following Senate confirmation of her nomination last week.

As a result, “I get to spend more time with the broader aspects of the PMA,” Weichert said today.

“My experience with the last year at OPM has given me an incredible set of operating insights into the challenges that we knew conceptually to be true when we framed the President’s Management Agenda, and it gives me even more deep respect for the people who are leading the operating environments that we have in government,” she said.

Among those broader aspects of the PMA, she said, is work on Federal data architectures, data centers, and work to make sure that data is not trapped in silos. “There’s a lot of work to be done on that front,” she said.

“If we don’t have that modern data architecture orientation, we spend literally tens of millions of dollars, it not close to billions in reconciling data, in understanding data, in maintaining data … So they’ll be a lot more discussion on that,” Weichert said.

In particular, Weichert said the government needs to create incentives that allow it to “co-create” data platforms with private sector partners, and then to retain some measure of control over the resulting platforms. “We need models to create the right incentives to get us there,” she added.

She also pledged more work to address the shortage of talented “human capital” facing not just the Federal government, but also the private sector across the country. “The skills needed for the 21st century include many skills where we are not graduating enough Americans in those skills,” she said.

Among the remedies are reskilling efforts of the type OMB is conducting on a small scale with the Federal workforce in the area of cybersecurity, she said. Weichert added that “we’re going to be doing similar things around data and other technology-type careers” including through pilots recently selected by the GEAR Center for further development.

Weichert said OMB “wants to see what we have in our existing authorities” to undertake more reskilling efforts.

For workers that are still 10 to 15 years from retirement age, “we need to be thinking about how we bring them to a place where they can be actively and productively included in the workforce that we need in the tasks and the jobs and the skills that we need,” she said.

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John Curran
John Curran
John Curran is MeriTalk's Managing Editor covering the intersection of government and technology.