More progress needed on Obama's performance management agenda

Monday - 9/17/2012, 3:32am EDT

There is a contradiction within the administration's performance agenda. It has the will to design the process by which progress is measured, but lacks the conviction to demand agencies follow the process. This mixed bag results in good initial progress but more is needed to realize its potential.

As part of Federal News Radio's special report, The Obama Impact: Evaluating the Last Four Years. Throughout the series, Federal News Radio examines 23 different ideas and initiatives instituted by the Obama Administration and ranks them as effective, ineffective and more progress needed.

When it comes to the President's performance management agenda, Federal News Radio believes more progress is needed.

Why the Performance Mngt.
Agenda was rated More Progress Needed
Reason #1: Agency high priority goals reviewed

Reason #2: GPRA Modernization Act passed

Reason #3: Performance.gov launched almost a year after it was promised. Data sporadically updated.

(More primary source material available on The Obama Impact Resource Page)

The administration told agencies to establish three to eight high-priority goals in 2009 with the idea to encourage agencies to achieve measurable change in 12-to-24 months. Along the way, the Office of Management and Budget measured quarterly progress toward those goals.

Federal News Radio conducted a review of the progress of each agency's priority goals and found data sparse or non-existent and none of it conformed to a standard report or scorecard. The performance data is inconsistent and not transparent because of the assorted ways agencies present it in their annual accountability reports to Congress.

While performance metrics on specific agency goals seem to be uneven, the administration's commitment to holding managers accountable for progress is strong. The Government Performance and Results Modernization Act of 2010 requires agencies to improve performance measurement and remove duplicative programs.

OMB launched Performance.gov to highlight accountability, responsiveness, innovation and efficiency. But the administration delivered the website almost a year after it was promised and updates to the site have been irregular over the last year. Data on contracting savings within the acquisition section contains 2010 data, the acquisition workforce section and finance section have 2011 data, while the human resources section contains 2012 data.

On the positive side, there is a concentrated focus on data-driven reviews: TechStat, AcqStat, and CyberStat are governmentwide, while HUDStat, FEMAStat and FDA-Track are agency specific goals.

All of this data is part of an unprecedented effort to feed data into dashboards, making it easier for Congress, the public and industry to find and understand how much progress departments are making.

More from the special report, The Obama Impact: Evaluating the Last Four Years

Part 1: Evaluating the Obama administration's management initiatives

Part 2: Evaluating Obama's technology reforms

Part 3: Evaluating Obama's workforce initiatives

Part 4: Evaluating Obama's acquisition efforts

Part 5A: What would a second-term for President Obama mean for feds?

Part 5B: What would a Romney presidency mean for federal workers?