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Facilitating Organizational Change at U.S. Treasury Department

The client’s perspective

By early 2011, the Bureau of Public Debt (BPD) saw the need for change. This small agency within the Department of Treasury had a hugely important job—to borrow the money the federal government needed to operate and then to account for the resulting debt. However, over time the BPD’s job had grown increasingly complicated. The agency also operated an Administrative Resource Center—which provided administrative, financial management and information technology services to a variety of other federal government organizations in a shared services model. 

The challenge was that BPD had become a complicated business, organized in a less-than-optimal way. The retail savings bond program was changing, the Administrative Resource Center business had grown by leaps and bounds, and the entire BPD was still operating under an organizational framework set up decades ago. Compounding BPD’s challenge was the issue of an aging workforce. BPD was seeing an unexpected side of being ranked in the top five best places to work in the federal government: the average age of a BPD worker had shifted to the late 40s. These workforce demographics brought two issues: how to make sure BPD had enough people to manage the business as people retire, and how to provide the right incentives for enough people to retire to create space for the next generation of BPD staff. 

In addition, further on the horizon were even bigger potential changes, as the Department of Treasury eyed the potential consolidation of BPD with the Financial Management Service.

A new view

Based on the strength of our reputation, BPD reached out to Eagle Hill Consulting. Our job was to help them answer the question: how do we manage our business for the future when we need wholly different skills than we had in the past? 

A breakaway approach

Beginning in the fall of 2011, we began working with BPD to define options for realigning their organization structure to reflect new realities and get ready for the aging demographic issue. The team was close-knit and collegial: comprising members from both Eagle Hill and the government sides, who determined early on that for change to happen, the organization had to be involved every step of the way.

The team began a two-pronged approach. We interviewed key people throughout BPD—from the commissioner down to the staff level. Simultaneously, we organized a series of working groups by functional area: bringing in key people to represent their unique view in brainstorming sessions that refined our solution ideas by degrees. These sessions happened over the course of several months, and when combined with the results of our interviews and analysis, not only led to several workable options, but also engaged and empowered the people who would be affected by change. 

The Eagle Hill team looked to best practices from the financial services industry and beyond to more closely reflect the current BPD business: wholesale, retail and other related businesses, including the Administrative Resource Center.

As the project neared its conclusion, Treasury confirmed the pending merger of BPD with the Financial Management Service. At that point, BPD saw a new dimension of value in Eagle Hill’s organization evaluation and strategic design work. The Eagle Hill team’s recommendations now became an important input into streamlining BPD operations in anticipation of the merger activity and the future beyond. By analyzing BPD in concert with all the management levels of the organization, Eagle Hill introduced a new way of looking at the scope of change and the potential risks to be managed during the transformation. BPD valued our work so highly, that we presented our findings and recommendations to the head of the new Bureau of Fiscal Service.