Advice here; it is wise and moderate in the usual Mankiw style.
I would add:
1) Appoint an economist or close substitute to run the Institute of Education Sciences, not an old-school ed-school person who will reverse its focus on research that clearly identifies the causal effects of policy relevant interventions.
2) Create an analog to the Institute for Education Sciences in the Department of Labor to guide a research program built around the estimation of clearly identified causal effects of policy relevant interventions.
3) Appoint a real chief economist to the Department of Labor. Clinton had Larry Katz, Alan Krueger, Lisa Lynch, Harry Holzer and Ed Montgomery. Bush treated this as a public relations office and appointed people with no stature within academic economics.
4) Appoint a Secretary of Labor who is sympathetic to labor but not a toady of the AFL-CIO. The aforementioned Ed Montgomery, my colleague and then my dean at Maryland after returning from a stint in the Clinton-era Department of Labor, would make a most excellent choice.
Addendum: Ed Montgomery made it onto the labor/education part of the transition team, which is listed here. No other names I recognice though, in either the labor/education or the HHS parts of the list.
Addendum 2: change.gov? Sigh.
Who was my favorite student this term?
6 months ago