White House seeks tips from Nooyi, corporate chiefs


Washington : The White House has invited dozens of America’s top executives, including Pepsico’s India-born chief executive Indra K. Nooyi, on Thursday seeking tips on how the US bureaucracy can become leaner and meaner.

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Besides Nooyi, Microsoft chief executive Steve Ballmer, Craigslist founder Craig Newmark, Sprint Nextel chief executive Dan Hesse, and Facebook co-founder Chris Hughes are among those expected to attend. The idea is to find ways to cut costs and getting federal agencies to place a higher priority on better serving the public, in areas including immigration, education and the census, the Washington Post reported Thursday.

White House officials hope tips from the executives may help translate private sector’s entrepreneurial zeal to federal agencies as they turn to new technologies, such as web and text messaging, to make that all happen.

For example, the Census Bureau spent $600 million on a project to make its 2010 count electronic, but the effort failed and the census will be conducted by paper this year.

“We see a big gap in technology from the private sector and the federal government in terms of productivity and service quality,” Jeffrey Zients, the Office of Management and Budget’s deputy director for management was quoted as saying.

Zients, federal Chief Information Officer Vivek Kundra and federal Chief Technology Officer Aneesh Chopra told the Post in a group interview Wednesday that they invited executives from various industries who have demonstrated excellence in cost management, customer service, and the use of high-tech tools to achieve those ends.

One challenge facing the administration is that federal workers aren’t motivated by the shareholder pressures and corporate bonuses of the private sector.

The executives will break out into three working groups and then present their ideas to all attendees, including Valerie Jarrett, a senior adviser to President Barack Obama, and Peter Orszag, director of the Office of Management and Budget, the Post said.

The government has started to implement some of the administration’s ideas. It’s cut nearly a dozen information technology contracts that appeared wasteful. The US Customs and Immigration Services is using text messages to inform applicants for citizenship when their paperwork moves through the seven steps of the application process.