Bill of Rights Institute cosponsors prize for National History Day

January 21, 2010

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Students nationwide can compete for the Constitutional Rights in History prize

The Bill of Rights Institute announced their collaboration with National History Day (NHD) today. The Institute is sponsoring the Constitutional Rights in History prize, awarded to an outstanding entry in any category from both the senior and junior divisions which documents and analyzes how individuals have exercised their constitutional rights throughout American history.

The 2010 theme for National History Day is “Innovation In History: Impact and Change.” Students must demonstrate through their project how their chosen individual’s actions had an impact on history.

Each year more than half a million students, encouraged by thousands of teachers nationwide, participate in the NHD contest. Students choose historical topics related to a theme and conduct extensive primary and secondary research through libraries, archives, museums, oral history interviews and historic sites. The Bill of Rights Institute’s prize will be awarded at the National Finals held in June 2010 in College Park, Maryland.

For more information about History Day, go to

© 2010 Bill of Rights Institute
200 North Glebe Road, Ste 200
Arlington, VA 22203

How is Obama doing in managing the federal bureaucracy?

January 21, 2010

Managing the agencies who carry out the policies requires a focus on what government is supposed to do.  Democrats tend to make better managers, because they wish government to work well and efficiently.  Republicans prefer government to go away, and too often since Dwight Eisenhower’s administration, Republicans have intentionally created havoc for agencies, to stymie their operation at all.

So, how has Obama done in his first year?  A couple of radio hosts in Washington, D.C., asked expert opinion.

From the Federal Drive blog at Federal News Radio, which accompanies the radio program by Tom Temin and Jane Norris at 1500 AM in Washington, D.C.

By Suzanne Kubota
Senior Internet Editor

Today marks President Obama’s one year in office.

Federal News Radio asked Joe Ferrara, Associate Dean at Georgetown University’s Public Policy Institute, to give the President a report card on the Chief Executive’s effect on federal employees and the operation and business of government.

Here are the Dean’s grades and a few comments:

Overall grade: B
“In terms of some of the initiatives he’s been pushing: stabilizing the economy, pushing health care.”

Federal Government Management Issues

Effort: A
“They have definitely shown a lot of energy in pushing initiatives on contracting, transparency, modernizing technology, etc.”

Results: C
“In part because it’s still early. Yes, he has been in office for a year, but as you well know, it takes time for changes to sort of filter through a bureaucracy as large as the federal government.”

Overall Planning

    “If you look at the last couple of administrations, certainly Bush and Cheney…their umbrella concept was the President’s Management Agenda. They ran it out of the White House. They ran it out of OMB. Clinton and Gore had Reinventing Government. They ran that out of the White House, not necessarily OMB, but a task force made up largely of career federal employees. But they had an over-arching concept: Reinventing Government.”
    The lack of a stated overall approach is “worrisome.” “As a former federal employee, I worry about your average federal manager out there seeing the initiative of the day coming forth from OMB, coming forth from the White House, and wondering how does this all fit together.


    “I know they’ve published this Open Government directive. I think that’s definitely a step in the right direction.” and the recovery and stimulus fund websites make it “easier for Congress, your average citizen, people in industry to figure out where’s all the money going and what are agencies doing.”

    One caveat: “politicians themselves, from the President on down” have to be transparent in pronouncements and the way they make decisions. “It’s not just the technology solution to transparency. That’s an important part of it, but there’s also political solution and I think ultimately you need those two to go together for citizens to really have a strong sense of trust in what the Government’s doing.”


    The delay in announcing a selection for cybersecurity coordinator “more viewed as sort of the Obama-style of gathering inputs, mulling over options, getting second opinions, getting third opinions – a very extensive vetting process kind of like what we saw with the Afghanistan decision. On the one hand, there’s nothing wrong with that.” On the other hand, said Ferrara, the longer you take to make decisions the more likely it is people will think you don’t put a high priority on the subject.

    Cybersecurity “is a very complex bundle of policy issues” and could explain the apparent delay.

Joe Ferrara is Associate Dean at Georgetown University’s Public Policy Institute.

President Obama’s self-reporting report card to Congress, the State of the Union address, is scheduled to be delivered a week from today, January 27th, at 9 pm EST.

Download an MP3 version of Ferrara’s remarks, from the Federal Radio site.

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