WHO'S IN CHARGE?
by HENRY E. SCHLENKER/Manager, Washington, D.C.
Harry S. Truman once remarked, "One can't really enjoy being President of the greatest republic in the history of the world. It's just too big a job for one man to control it." Thirty years later, despite repeated attempts to prune it back, the executive branch of the gov-ernment is bigger and more unwieldy than ever. And as the agencies and commissions proliferate in bewilder-ing array, more and more Americans are wondering, "Can the federal gov-ernment be managed at all?"
In 1978, I spent five months as a member of an AICPA task force study-ing the Executive Office of the Presi-dent (EOP}, the organization most people think of as the White House. As we interviewed key people in each EOP unit, the five members of our task force had an unusual opportunity to look at the federal government from an insider's point of view. We had been asked by the White House to examine the possibility of producing a report to the public, somewhat like a corporate annual report, that would explain EOP's role in managing the executive branch of the government and show the cost of operating the White House. Interviewing with this in mind, we asked people to tell us about the ser-vices, facilities, and work groups that don't show up on the organization charts. We wanted to find out how the 12 EOP units actually work together, how they interact with the rest of the executive branch, and how national policy issues are addressed.
When our task force sat down to write its report, I realized thai my view of the White House had changed con-siderably during the engagement. I now feel that any analogy between managing the government and man-aging a large corporation is appro-priate only to a degree. The President can try to organize the While House on a more businesslike footing, using proven management techniques; and