Center for American Progress

ANNOUNCEMENT: Center for American Progress Launches Project to Maximize Taxpayer Value and Boost Results
Press Release

ANNOUNCEMENT: Center for American Progress Launches Project to Maximize Taxpayer Value and Boost Results

New project aims to cut unnecessary federal expenditures, regain public confidence in government, and deliver greater results for the American people.

Click here to see the project’s web site: Doing What Works

Washington, D.C.—The Center for American Progress, with the support of the Rockefeller Foundation’s Campaign for American Workers, is launching a new project called “Doing What Works” to advance smarter government that efficiently allocates scarce resources and achieves greater results for the American people.

CAP is hosting a launch event from 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. on Thursday, February 18 that will feature a major address from President Barack Obama’s Chief Performance Officer Jeffrey Zients.

CAP will release two papers at this event. The first, by CAP CEO and President John Podesta and Reece Rushing, manager of the Doing What Works project, lays out the project’s philosophy and previews work over the next year. The second, Golden Goals for Government Performance by former U.K. government reform expert and CAP Senior Fellow Jitinder Kohli, recommends ways government can use high-level, outcome-based goals to drive performance.

“We won’t win public support for progressive goals until the public knows that the government is committed to doing what works,” said John Podesta. “We can achieve greater results at lower costs in areas like education, energy, and health care. The nation’s fiscal outlook makes this project especially urgent.”

"Americans have long believed in a social contract between themselves and the government that honored hard work with achievement of the American Dream," said Janice Nittoli, Associate Vice President and Managing Director of The Rockefeller Foundation. "That contract is no longer working for many Americans and they have lost faith in government’s ability to deliver on their end of the bargain. That is why it is critical for government to win back the public’s trust. A first step is to make sure public spending works for the public. The Rockefeller Foundation’s Campaign for American Workers has devoted $70 million to help improve the economic security of working Americans through better public policies and programs aimed at helping people work and save, for today, for their retirement, and to have the benefit of health insurance.”

The project will specifically generate ideas to:

  • Eliminate or reform misguided spending programs and tax expenditures to deliver maximum return for taxpayer dollars. CAP will identify budget savings and cost-effective investments in priority areas such as health care, education, and energy. Approaches that work well should be replicated. Those that perform poorly should be redesigned to deliver greater returns on investment. And those that are redundant, misguided, or less important should be eliminated.
  • Boost government productivity by modernizing practices. The private sector becomes more efficient every year at a long-term rate of 1.64 percent in the United States. Research suggests that the federal government’s productivity, however, is flat or even down. This project will examine successful public- and private-sector strategies in the United States and around the world that could be adopted to boost productivity in the areas of performance management, talent and workforce issues, information technology, and procurement.
  • Adopt decision-making reforms and harness new technology to promote open, evidence-based government. New information technologies provide the opportunity to rethink and transform the way government does its business. Yet basic policymaking and management systems remain rooted in another era. Reforms are needed to put decision makers in a position to capitalize on new technological capabilities. Such reforms would bring greater precision to policymaking and management and open the process to greater public input.

Opinion research shows the public does not believe government is capable of executing its responsibilities efficiently and effectively. This mistrust is a significant barrier to advancing policies to address even the most popular goals. This project will survey existing public opinion research and conduct new research to better understand public attitudes about government.

“The American people are right to expect more from their government,” said Reece Rushing, CAP Director of Government Reform. “Leaders in both the public and private sectors are proving everyday that significant gains are possible. Following these examples will not only deliver greater results—we can also help restore public confidence in government’s ability to get the job done.”

CAP has assembled an esteemed advisory board to help guide the project. A list of advisory board members is provided with this release.

Click here to read the framing essay describing the project’s philosophy: Doing What Works

Click here to read the paper on goal setting: Golden Goals for Government Performance

Click here to see the project’s website: Doing What Works


The Center for American Progress is a nonpartisan research and educational institute dedicated to promoting a strong, just, and free America that ensures opportunity for all. We believe that Americans are bound together by a common commitment to these values and we aspire to ensure that our national policies reflect these values. We work to find progressive and pragmatic solutions to significant domestic and international problems and develop policy proposals that foster a government that is "of the people, by the people, and for the people.”


Doing What Works Advisory Board

Andres Alonso                                                          John Koskinen

CEO, Baltimore Public School System                Non-Executive Chairman, Freddie Mac


Yigal Arens                                                                Richard Leone

Professor, USC School of Engineering               President, The Century Foundation


Ian Ayres                                                                    Ellen Miller

Professor, Yale Law School                                   Executive Director, Sunlight Foundation


Gary D. Bass                                                              Claire O’Connor

Executive Director, OMB Watch                              Former Director of Performance Management,

                                                                                      City of Los Angeles


Lily Batchelder                                                           Tim O’Reilly

Professor, NYU School of Law                               Founder and CEO, O’Reilly Media


Larisa Benson                                                           Ali Partovi

Washington State Director of                                 Senior Vice President of Business

Performance Audit and Review                             Development, MySpace


Anna Burger                                                              Tony Scott

Secretary-Treasurer, SEIU                                      Chief Information Officer, Microsoft


Jack Dangermond                                                   Richard H. Thaler

President, ESRI                                                        Professor, University of Chicago

                                                                                     School of Business


Dan C. Esty                                                                Eric Toder

Professor, Yale Law School                                   Fellow, Urban Institute


Beverly Hall                                                                Margery Austin Turner

Superintendent, Atlanta Public Schools               Vice President for Research,

                                                                                     Urban Institute


Elaine Kamarck                                                        Laura D. Tyson

Lecturer in Public Policy, Harvard University       Professor, University of California-

                                                                                     Berkeley School of Business

Sally Katzen

Executive Managing Director,

The Podesta Group


Edward Kleinbard

Professor, USC School of Law