US Government Reform for Competitiveness and Innovation

On March 11, 2011 President Obama signed a Presidential Memorandum which established the Government Reform for Competitiveness and Innovation Initiative to develop proposals for making our government more effective and efficient.

The first focus is on the agencies and functions that support one of our nation’s most important priorities – increasing trade, exports and our overall competitiveness.

These are the ideas I submitted:

Engender an Export Culture in business and the broader community

More businesses need to consider exports as a viable path for growth. My experience is based on the Australian Trade Commission model of the 80’s and 90’s where an “export or perish” mentailty permeated the business community. No such mind-set exists in the US small to medium business sector. The size of the domestic market sometimes causes businesses to think and act locally.

Government has a responsibility to change this attitude.


Reduce layers of -support- for potential exporters

Get out of the way! Exporters need direct access to opportunities; Business Development Support in foreign markets.

Often, layers of federal, state, regional and product based “support” organizations compete for the success story of working with an exporter.

Better models for the delivery of export business development include improved Client Relationship Management at the government level, clear areas of responsibility and shared acknowledgement of success – Export Sales.


Promulgate export opportunities using ‘Social Networking’ tools

Establish transparent and dynamic communication of export opportunities within the US business sector.

Utilize existing networks of foreign service agencies with “feet on the street” in foreign markets to seed this communication as well as monitor and guide potential exporters.

Just to clarify my use of the term “Social Network tools” – I’m not advocating Facebook or MySpace for exporters!

I envisage a dedicated exporter centric Client Relationship Management system that facilitates; opportunity matching, B2B and B2G partnerships, success story promulgation, peer support etc.

Citizen Ambassadors for Trade Abroad

Develop a program that can empower the family members of foreign service and defense personnel overseas to support US exporters.

The CATA program would utilize ‘social networking’ tools to educate family members about innovative US exporters and the markets they are seeking. Family members, who are often required to network within local business communities overseas, would be in a position to identify and highlight potential opportunities. For family members this provides potential for overseas employment. For US exporters it provides access to potential opportunities. And for the US it helps engender an Export Culture. A remuneration system could be applied to successes attributed to active CATA participants.


…preferably in their area of expertise.

I propose a telework program that supports Eligible Family Members of Foreign Service and Defense personnel by providing direct employment opportunities to appropriate government positions.

Many roles in Washington and elsewhere can be effectively carried out remotely by qualified Foreign Service and Defense spouses.

Partners of serving Foreign Service and Defense personnel face a range of issues related to securing employment and maintaining a career as they relocate internationally and domestically, serving the country in this indirect manner.

Often, very talented people settle with low paying embassy, military base or local economy positions just so they have a job, sometimes abandoning career aspirations of their own.

This somewhat latent asset of approximately 20,000 skilled Americans can serve our country more effectively if it is treated as more than the sum of the parts.

The current plethora of a-la-carte programs tend to confuse rather than assist trailing spouses. What is needed is support in the form of access to government and private sector positions to reduce the strains that often lead to expensive curtailment of assignments, or in some cases resignation from the Foreign Service.

A system that dynamically matches family members, based on availability, skills, experience etc. with current positions or projects in government and private sector could serve this community, government and business alike.


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