Bob Kerrey, Mark Alderman, and Howard Schweitzer make an interesting proposal. President Obama should create the post of federal Chief Operating Officer:
Let the president’s chief of staff manage the White House – an enormous responsibility in itself. We need a chief operating officer to manage everything else.
While a COO must understand how policy and politics influence decision making in Washington, he should leave the politics to the chief of staff and others in the White House and undertake the hard role of running the business of government. Far from reflecting poorly on this president or his chief of staff, this suggestion is about the efficacy of the office itself. This innovation would modernize the institution of the presidency and enhance the ability of this president and his successors to govern.
They even have somebody in mind for the job:
The choice of the first COO will be critical for the future of the office, much as the selection of the first president shaped that office for our nation. Fortunately, an ideal candidate comes to mind: New York Mayor Mike Bloomberg. He is a man of well-documented business savvy who has also exhibited an ability to apply private-sector know-how to a diverse government enterprise. He has experience with public budgets and managing private-sector payrolls. His political status as an independent makes him uniquely nonpartisan in an age of vicious factions.
Hmm. Keep your friends close and your enemies closer?
It’s an intriguing, practical suggestion which I sincerely doubt that President Obama will listen to.
Many countries in the world have separate heads of state and heads of government, presidents and prime ministers. It’s frequently been said that United States unites both roles in the presidency.
That may have been the way the presidency has evolved but I don’t think it was intended to be that way. I think that we were to be a country in which there was no head of state or, more accurately, in which the people are the head of state. The president is the government’s chief operating officer. Why the job hasn’t appealed to many of those elected to the presidency for the last century or so is probably the question we should be pondering.