Having held top-level positions in both the federal govern-
ment and private industry, what do you think are the salient
differences in themanagement skills needed in the two sectors?
Once you reach a decision in the private sector, that’s the end
of the process. In the government, by contrast, once you reach a
decision, that’s the beginning of the process. At that point, you
need to convince a plethora of people that your decision is right
before it can be implemented. The government moves much
more by consensus than the private sector does.
Second, in the private sector, you have much more of a free
hand in personnel decisions. If I wanted to hire or fire somebody,
I could do it. Here in the government that becomes much more
Third, people are very much driven by the profit motive in the
private sector: everything has a standard criterion. In govern-
ment, there is no single criterion; it’s an exercise in judgment. A
single standard is an advantage in the sense that everything is
clear; it’s a disadvantage in that it’s a rather narrowmotivation.
In government, people tend to be motivated by broader issues.
Indeed, that’s one of the advantages of serving in government.
However, both sectors are challenging in their own way.
As your term in the Reagan administration approaches its
end, how would youmost like to be remembered as secretary
I haven’t tried to attain any single dramatic achievement; that
isn’t particularly my style. But there are a number of things we’ve
tried to do that I hope could be followed up on. We’ve tried to set
very clear priorities even in a period of declining budgets. We’ve
sought to emphasize quality: quality of people, quality of training,
quality of the weapons systems, and quality of the procurement
These priorities have been reflected in the budget with
emphasis on people, readiness, sustainability, and on producing
weapons systems at efficient rates. We have started an initiative in
the procurement area which I hope will catch on.
I think we’ve managed to strengthen our alliances not just dur-
ing my period, but over the period of my predecessor, and we now
have very strong alliances with a number of countries.
THE FOREIGN SERVICE JOURNAL