Schar School Establishes ‘Center for Business Civic Engagement’

By Buzz McClain

CBCE Director David K. RehrCBCE Will Bring Private Sector Best-Practices to Public Agencies

Schar School of Policy and Government Dean Mark Rozell announced the establishment of the Center for Business Civic Engagement (CBCE), a research program to apply business methods and experiences to all levels of the U.S. Government. The center will be located at George Mason University’s Arlington Campus.

The center, said Rozell, will provide a bridge between the private and public sectors to “bring fresh thinking to government decision-making.”

The center, directed by Capitol Hill veteran David K. Rehr, “will foster entrepreneurial ideas and amplify best-practices used in the private sector to the public sector,” said Rozell.

“We know that for whatever reason government is perceived as failing its duty,” said Rehr. “I think the center can have a positive influence on our democratic institutions.”

Rehr, recognized as one of the top advocates for the business sector in the world, said he is unfamiliar with any other academic or research institution teaching and researching business practices for adoption by government agencies.

“This center will focus on transparency, accountability, and civility in government,” Rehr said. “Our goal is to bring business methodologies and performance metrics to government so we have better constituent stewardship of resources. The hope is real problems that people face finally get solved.”

One example of the “real problems” the CBCE will address are apparent inefficiencies in some state’s Departments of Motor Vehicles. Rehr, with the help of Schar School students, will conduct a comparative study on how local DMVs can improve constituent response, which often leads to significant lost wages for consumers. Rehr also plans to host a spring conference on government financial transparency.

Rehr, who holds a PhD in economics, is a former CEO of the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB), where he directed the analog to digital television transition. It was one of the largest public education programs and, he said, and an example of public policy that “required the private and public sector working together to ensure Americans did not lose access to television signals…We applied metrics and business models to the $1.2 billion education campaign—and it reaped great rewards for everyone.”