Each inauguration brings about change. But this year, there is an almost palpable feeling that it is a time of change. For more than a year, the mantra on the presidential campaign has been change.
This is probably a good thing. Everyone should be concerned when the approval percentages for the president-and Congress-wallow in the 20s. People feel detached, almost alienated, from their government. What has not been fully defined is what change will mean once it makes its way through the Washington bureaucracy.
There are several reasons for hope, and President-elect Obama comes to Washington at a time when there are many somewhat paradoxical factors. The fact is these are unique times. It is the age of sometimes ruthless competition. We are all hyper-connected. We all feel that we are working 24/7 but that we should be working 25/8.
Competition is pressing the government as well. Agencies are not compared to other agencies, but increasingly, their successes-or failures-are compared to everybody else's. Some real opportunities ahead can alter the way the government has done business-and for the better.