Shelley H. Metzenbaum

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Shelley H. Metzenbaum, President, Volcker Alliance

Shelley H. Metzenbaum (born March 18, 1952) was the President of the Volcker Alliance in New York City, NY[1]

Personal life[edit]

Dr. Metzenbaum is a native of Ohio. Her late father, Howard Metzenbaum, was a U.S. Senator. She is the third of four daughters.[2] Dr. Metzenbaum is married to Harvard professor Steven Kelman.[3] They have two adult children.[4]


Dr. Metzenbaum is a leading expert in the field of public sector performance management. She completed her Ph.D. at Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government in 1992, where her doctoral thesis focused on lessons for state governments on bidding tactics to use when attempting to attract businesses. It was based on a case study of bidding wars for GM’s Saturn plant and the MicroElectronics Computer Corporation. Previous to this, she received a Masters in Public Policy from the Kennedy School and completed her Bachelor of Arts, with an emphasis on humanities and Asian studies, at Stanford University.[5]

She has worked in state and federal government, in the private sector, in academia, and for not-for-profit organizations.

State Government[edit]

In the late 1980s, Dr. Metzenbaum served as the director of the Office of Capital Planning and Budgeting for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. In that role she was responsible for the Commonwealth’s capital budgeting, planning and monitoring of capital projects. She built the capacity to analyze and predict spending patterns for bonding purposes. In the early 1990s, she served as the undersecretary of the Massachusetts Executive Office of Environmental Affairs. She oversaw employees in five Commonwealth agencies and reformed the environmental permitting process to cut processing times and increase revenues. She also initiated reforms of the Commonwealth’s Superfund program and led a project resulting in the creation of the New England Environmental Business Council.[5]

Federal Government, Clinton Administration[edit]

In 1993, Dr. Metzenbaum was appointed by President Clinton to serve as Associate Administrator for Regional Operations and State/Local Relations for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in Washington, D.C. She was responsible for management of EPA’s ten regional offices and EPA’s relationships with states and localities. She led the design and implementation of the National Environmental Performance Partnership System, which used data to streamline management attention to identifying potential problems and developing interventions.[6]


After her service in the Clinton Administration, Dr. Metzenbaum was a Visiting Professor and Senior Research Fellow at the University of Maryland School of Public Policy. At the University of Maryland, she was faculty chair of an executive education program on the policy-making process in science-based federal agencies originally developed for the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Prior to that, she served as adjunct faculty at the Brookings Institution, running the “Science and Technology Policy” and “Managing for Results” programs.[5] In 2008, Dr. Metzenbaum became the founding director[5] of the Edward J. Collins Jr. Center for Public Management at the University of Massachusetts, in Boston. The Center is dedicated to helping governments work better, focusing on improving the people, performance, and productivity of government and intergovernmental arrangements. In that role, she developed a university-based resource center for improving public performance management at the federal, state, and local levels. For example, the Center coordinates MassStat, a consortium of local governments committed to learning from each other’s experiences in using data to make performance decisions.

Federal Government, Obama Administration[edit]

In 2009, Dr. Metzenbaum was appointed by President Obama as the Associate Director for Performance and Personnel Management at the U.S. Office of Management and Budget (OMB).[7] In this role, she was responsible for implementation of the Government Performance and Results Act of 2010,[8] which requires strategic planning, goal-setting, annual performance reporting on all federal agency goals, and quarterly performance reporting and data-driven reviews on every agency's priority goals. She also led the government-wide Performance Improvement Council and was responsible for guiding government-wide personnel policy.[9] Dr. Metzenbaum is an elected fellow to the National Academy of Public Administration,[10] and was recognized in 2011 as one of the Federal Computer Week's Federal 100, in recognition for her leadership on performance issues.[11]

Volcker Alliance[edit]

Dr. Metzenbaum left the federal government in May 2013 to serve as the President of The Volcker Alliance,[12] founded by former United States Federal Reserve Chairman Paul A. Volcker. A nonpartisan organization based in New York City, The Volcker Alliance aims to catalyze new thinking and action with respect to federal, state, and local government in the U.S. and abroad. Through partnerships with education institutions, governmental organizations, business groups, and public interest enterprises, the Alliance sponsors research on government performance, makes actionable recommendations for policy and implementation, and provides a forum for discussion of new ideas and tools to strengthen policy execution at all levels of government.[13] Beyond this, the Alliance works to restore a high degree of public confidence in both the decision-making processes of government and in its administrative management.[14]

Notable Publications[edit]

Book Chapters

“Goal Power and Other Thoughts,” in Evie Barry et al., Leadership and Performance Management in Government (Association of Government Accountants, 2008), pp. 81–95.

“From Oversight to Insight: Federal Agencies as Learning Leaders in the Information Age,” in Paul Posner and Tim Conlan, editors, Intergovernmental Management for the 21st Century (Brookings 2007.)

With Howard Kunreuther and Peter Schmeidler, “Mandating Insurance and Using Private Inspections to Improve Environmental Management,” in Cary Coglianese and Jennifer Nash, eds., Leveraging the Private Sector: Management-Based Strategies for Improving Environmental Performance'' (Resources for the Future, 2006), pp. 137–163.

“Measurement that Matters: Cleaning Up the Charles River,” in Donald F. Kettl, ed., Environmental Governance: A Report on the Next Generation of Environmental Policy (Brookings, 2002), pp 58–117.

State Officials' Guide on Environmental Management Systems, Council of State Governments, Lexington, MA, 2002.


Performance Management Recommendations for the Next Administration,” IBM Center for the Business of Government, Washington DC, January 2009.

Making Better Use of Environmental Accident, Incident, and Inspection Information,” ECOStates, (DC: Environmental Council of States) Spring 2007.

Measuring Compliance Assistance Outcomes: State of Science and Practice White Paper,” prepared for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance and Office of Research and Development, December 6, 2007.

Performance Accountability Expectations: The Five Building Blocks and Six Essential Practices,” IBM Center for the Business of Government, 2006.

Strategies for Using State Information: Measuring and Improving Performance,” Report for the IBM Center for The Business of Government, December 2003.

Principal author, Executive Session on Public Sector Performance Management, “Get Results through Performance Management: An Open Memorandum to Government Executives,” Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University, 2001.