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Insight from Gina McCarthy

by gmoke Sun Feb 14th, 2021 at 11:33:16 PM EST

After the Obama Presidency, Gina McCarthy, the former Administrator of the EPA, landed at Harvard as a Fellow of the Institute of Politics and ran a Tuesday afternoon study group, as IOP Fellows do.  Since I have way too much time on my hands, an interest in the environment, and a great deal of respect for Ms McCarthy, I attended her study group.  One day, she said something about her experience in the Obama administration that struck me as important, something I'd not heard before.  

What excited my interest was that McCarthy said she had never seen the kind of cooperation between different government departments that she saw in the Obama administration.  This cooperation was not only on the top levels of appointed positions like Secretary and Under-Secretary but went deep down throughout the bureaucracy.  McCarthy has worked for 25 years in public administration in Conneticut and Massachusetts and the Federal government.  That this level of cooperation (and the implied lack of turf wars) between departments was remarkable to her is most remarkable to me.

I asked her to think about what the reasons for such cooperation might be and to write about it as I believe this to be important.  My own guess is that the election of Barrack Obama gave people an opportunity to work together on a clear and beneficial common purpose.  My readings on motivation have convinced me that what gives people satisfaction at work are a clear common purpose, a certain amount of autonomy, and a chance for mastery.  It may be that the Obama adminstration consciously or unconsciously provided at least one of those three and, possibly, all of them.

Obama, in my reading, has had a reputation for conciliation and cooperation from his student days through his terms in the Illinois State Senate, the US Senate, and the Presidency.  That "No Drama" Obama attitude may also have penetrated throughout his administration by osmosis or practice.  President Biden has a similar reputation, especially in regards to bipartisanship or working with Republicans.

McCarthy was Obama's second term EPA administrator and served from 2013 to 2017.   This unusual level of inter-departmental cooperation was built and sustained over two terms, eight years, and probably well worth studying.  What were the mechanisms that allowed this to happen and can they be replicated?

After the Trmp administration whose hallmarks were chaos, petty cruelty as policy, and tactical incompetence to muddy their tracks and avoid responsibility,  we might want to know how to generate increased inter-departmental cooperation now that the Trmp presidency* is over.  We're probably gonna need all the help we can get and it seems to me that Biden, McCarthy, now the White House climate person, and the many veterans of the Obama era have the experience and the smarts to replicate that cooperation in depth that Gina McCarthy talked about on a Tuesday afternoon in a Kennedy School seminar room back in 2017.


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More governmental cooperation in depth?
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. no 0%
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. both yes and no 0%
. don't understand the question? 0%
. none of the above 0%

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McCarthy was Obama's second term EPA administrator ...

Had to stop and think twice 😉 indeed, Trmp was a one term president.

The appointment of John Kerry was a pleasant surprise.

Gina McCarthy has a reputation as a bare-knuckle brawler when establishing rules to address climate change and protect the environment. She was a frequent target of Republican lawmakers during the Obama administration and went through a series of contentious congressional hearings as she crafted the Clean Power Plan and other aggressive climate policies designed to slow global warming.

Two Democratic senators from Georgia will surely make a difference to get policy done ...

McCarthy, Regina, nominated to be Assistant Administrator, Office of Air and  
Radiation, of the Environmental Protection Agency | House Hearings - April 2, 2009 |

by Oui on Mon Feb 15th, 2021 at 10:44:47 AM EST
I gave the wrong dates.  McCarthy was EPA Administrator from 2012 to 2016.  Sorry, I make mistakes.

Gina McCarthy is a force of nature and a force for nature.  I know her very slightly and she is extremely impressive and takes no prisoners nor any guff.  Very effective administrator and bureaucratic infighter.

Solar IS Civil Defense

by gmoke on Mon Feb 15th, 2021 at 07:04:21 PM EST
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