The Federal Role in Improving Productivity:

Is the National Center for Productivity and Quality of Working Life the Proper Mechanism?

FGMSD-78-26: Published: May 23, 1978. Publicly Released: May 23, 1978.

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The National Center for Productivity and Quality of Working Life was established in 1975 to be the focal point for a national effort to improve America's rate of economic growth. The Center established the following objectives: (1) develop more effective approaches to improving productivity in the public sector; (2) stimulate and support industry efforts to improve productivity; (3) coordinate productivity enhancing efforts by federal agencies; (4) encourage labor-management efforts by federal agencies; (5) encourage labor-management cooperation to enhance productivity; (6) recommend ways of improving the rate of capital investment; (7) recommend changes in productivity-inhibiting government regulations; and (8) encourage understanding and use of productivity measures.

The Center's objectives were not expressed in terms that facilitate measuring success or failure. However, the Center was unsuccessful in accomplishing some major functions: (1) no assessment has been made of the extent to which federal programs have enhanced national productivity; (2) no recommendations have been made on how federal programs could be better coordinated; and (3) no recommendations have been made for revising specific laws or regulations that adversely affect productivity. The Center did not accomplish more because: (1) it was not given resources and authority necessary to carry out its responsibilities; (2) it was not given support by Congress or the administration; and (3) it failed to develop an overall plan for achieving its objectives and a system for evaluating the impact of its programs. Although the Center has not satisfactorily fulfilled its goals, continued federal leadership and involvement in productivity improvement is needed.

Recommendation for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed

    Comments: Please call 202/512-6100 for additional information.

    Recommendation: Leadership for private sector productivity improvement effort should be assigned to the Department of Commerce, guided by a National Productivity Council which would be charged with developing a national productivity program plan. The Office of Management and Budget should take the lead in developing an analysis of productivity to be made part of the President's budget. A unit dealing with regulatory mediation should be established in the Executive Office to develop recommendations to resolve specific regulatory problems inhibiting productivity.

    Agency Affected:


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