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Bob O'Neill

Robert J. O'Neill Jr.


Robert J. O'Neill Jr. is past executive director of the International City/County Management Association. He retired from the organization in December 2016.

From 1997 to 2000, O'Neill served as Fairfax County, Va., executive, where he was credited with developing a series of strategies aimed at revitalizing older residential communities and commercial areas as well as launching a series of initiatives focused on performance and results management.

O'Neill's "reinvention" of the government of Hampton, Va., as city manager from 1984 to 1997, was widely recognized; his many accomplishments included downtown- and waterfront-revitalization initiatives as well as development of a nationally recognized youth-at-risk program.

Policies are one thing. Implementing them is another. The next president needs to pay attention to our intergovernmental system.
Many challenges lie ahead. Cities and counties will need to collaborate and innovate as never before.
There are times when transportation and other infrastructure work just as they should. Smart cities look for ways to make that happen all the time.
Communities that cultivate a network of institutions and pay attention to the "3 Es" of resiliency will be better able to respond and adapt to new challenges.
As they deploy modern, data-driven tools for public-sector efficiency, today's government leaders are building on work that began many decades ago.
To sustain excellence over time, governments need to build leadership at all levels of their organizations.
It's been 20 years since "Reinventing Government" was published. The book's lessons continue to resonate among innovative governments across the country.
The challenges facing today's governments require a management approach that cuts across disciplines and departments.
The challenges that lie ahead can be expected to produce plenty of innovation, but they will test the leadership capacity of elected and appointed officials.