WWS Calendar

Why Government Can’t (and Shouldn’t) Run Just Like a Business

Apr 19, 2017 04:30PM to 06:00PM
Robertson Hall
Open to the Public
Beth F. Cobert ’80, former acting director, United States Office of Personnel Management

Jared Kushner, President Trump’s son-in-law and senior advisor, recently argued, “The government should be run like a great American company.” Can government run like a business? Should it?

On April 19, Beth F. Cobert ’80, former acting director of the U.S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM), will give a talk titled “Why Government Can’t (and Shouldn’t) Run Just Like a Business.”

President Obama appointed Cobert as acting director of OPM on July 10, 2015. She came to OPM from the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), where she served as the deputy director for management and the U.S. chief performance officer beginning in October 2013.

At OMB, Cobert led the efforts to drive the President’s management agenda to make government more effective and efficient so it can deliver better, faster and smarter services to citizens and businesses. She oversaw the government’s performance, procurement and financial management offices, as well as the Office of the Chief Information Officer. Under her leadership, the administration made progress on efforts to modernize the management of federal information technology, improve citizen-facing services and strengthen cybersecurity across federal systems.

When Cobert joined OPM in 2015, her key priority was addressing the major cyber intrusion of the Office of Personnel Management that compromised the personal information of more than 20 million people. During her leadership, OPM made significant progress by embracing new tools and technology and doubling down on the agency’s focus on customer service and cybersecurity. At OPM, she also led initiatives to improve employee engagement, enhance the Senior Executive Service and recruit and retain a talented and diverse federal workforce. 

Before joining the federal government, Cobert worked for nearly 30 years at McKinsey & Company as a senior partner in their New York and San Francisco offices. She worked with clients across a range of sectors, including financial services, health care, real estate, telecommunications and philanthropy. 

Cobert is visiting the Woodrow Wilson School as this year’s Anna and G. Mason Morfit ’97 Distinguished Visitor.