OMB and GSA developing unified measures to cut down on costs

Wednesday - 7/2/2014, 4:21pm EDT

By Ariel Levin-Waldman
Special to Federal News Radio

The Office of Management Budget and the General Services Administration have created a plan to gather data and make progress toward cutting unnecessary spending and inefficiency.

Currently, OMB and GSA have trouble analyzing the efficiency of government agencies, something that makes agency cooperation difficult, according to a White House report released June 30.

"Federal agencies lack a complete set of tools and reliable data to measure their performance in key administrative areas," the report said. "This discourages agency executives from taking necessary steps to reduce costs, efficiently deploy resources, and improve quality of service."

OMB and GSA will create a unified data set from all agencies.

The plan revolves around agencies setting performance benchmarks, which the report expects to be completed by the end of July. The benchmarks, then, are assessed by OMB and GSA, which will compare the practices used by the most efficient agencies and share them with the others. Leadership teams from agencies then will meet with OMB and GSA to share their findings.

OMB and GSA are looking for efficiency indicators, measured in cost savings or reduced square footage of federal property, which can be traced back to benchmark related actions. OMB and GSA also are looking for increased service quality and shared services adoption among agencies.

Based on the findings, finance, human resources and IT working groups will come up with an action and implementation plan, which interagency management councils will analyze for effective strategies that could be shared. This all comprises the first phase of the plan. The second phase uses the results of the first to create a standard plan and metrics.

The benchmarks policy set by OMB and GSA is the latest in a series of actions implemented by the Obama administration to decrease waste, fraud and abuse. Since 2009, the administration has been trying to reform real estate policies and improper payments.

Under the Freeze the Footprint initiative, OMB required agencies to submit three-year Revised Real Property Cost Savings and Innovation Plans to more narrowly focus on how they can maintain their real estate footprint and include a prospective analysis of spending.

In 2010, agencies paid $125 billion in improper payments, whether by contractor fraud or paying more than $1 billion to dead people.

Congress passed a law requiring Treasury to create a "do not pay" list of fraudulent contractors and a tool to let death certificate data be shared more easily among agencies.

The improper payment rate has dropped to 3.54 percent in 2013 from 5.42 percent in 2009.

The Obama administration has set new cross-agency priority goals for managing government as part of its 2015 budget. Federal News Radio examines the eight areas identified by the White House in our special section 2014 Cross Agency Priority Goals.

Ariel Levin-Waldman is an intern with Federal News Radio

RELATED STORIES:

Improper payments rate drops for 4th straight year

Timing, technology converge to better attack improper payments

Next front in fight against improper payments? Stopping payments to dead people

Senate committee passes bills on improper payments, whistleblower protections

Agencies forced to freeze office space footprint

GSA trying innovative approaches to disposing of real property