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David Walker For President

09 Sep 2007
Posted by Stan Collender

Comptroller General David Walker may be the most courageous public servant in Washington these days.


For years he has been talking about the federal budget when few others would dare go near the subject. He has been conducting The Fiscal Wake Up Tour, which in July was featured on 60 Minutes , since 2005.


Last week the Government Accountability Office (GAO), which Walker heads, issued a very tough report about the failures of the surge in Iraq and Walker and, when he testified about it on Capital Hill, answered the questions about its conclusions with very straightforward language not frequently used by government officials.


In Mid August, GAO issued a similarly tough report on the Department of Homeland Security. Again using very direct language, GAO made it clear that the department was not meeting standards.


What other federal agency head and federal agency operates like this?



I saw a replay of the 60

I saw a replay of the 60 minutes segment on an airplane -- talk about a captive audience.  I thought much the same about Walker's courage and tenacity on the budget  issue as well as on Iraq.  The question I would pose (in addition to what you have stated above) is whether we need more GAO's (and CBO's) to provide an unbiased, objective source of information to the American people. 

My graduate school dean,

My graduate school dean, Aaron Wildavsky, wrote a book about 35 years ago called Speaking Truth to Power; it was his attempt to explain what public poicy (my degree) was all about. That was bak when planning, programming, and budgeting, and policy analysis were the "it" subjects and when the Kennedy administration was telling everyone that it could "fine tune" the economy. In retrospect, I'm not sure Aaron was ever right about this, but he's clearly wrong now. These days, "power" doesn't necessarily want "the truth;" it simply wants those things that will enhance their power.


More GAO- and CBO-like organizations, and far more David Walkers, would be great. But we also need to figure out how to get people to listen.

He has also used his

He has also used his position as a non-executive branch agency head to re-organize his personnel structure.  really innovative and interesting stuff.  Not sure how successful it has been, but he is at the cutting edge of public management.


Dave Walker rocks.

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