Performance management on agencies' front burners

Thursday - 4/29/2010, 6:39am EDT

WFED's Max Cacas

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By Max Cacas
Reporter
Federal News Radio

The term "performance management" is nothing new, but in the Federal government, officials today are trying to ferret out what the term means in the context of their jobs and making government more effective.

That's the idea that the Association of Government Accountants sought to explore as it convened its first Federal Performance Conference at DC's Renaissance Hotel yesterday.

One panel discussion sought to determine what ties, if any, could be found in the agendas of different stakeholders within the government as defined by the different presidential management councils.

Linda Washington is Assistant Secretary for Administration and the Chief Human Capital Officer for the U.S. Department of Transportation. Representing the CHCO council, Washington says that for the chief human capital officers, the top performance management priority deals with the reform of the federal hiring process.

This year, the CHCO council partnered with OPM (the Office of Personnel Management) to design a new end-to-end hiring roadmap. It's a critical step in reforming the hiring process because that's where it all starts. In addition, we led the development of HR competencies, to insure our own workforce, and that's our own HR folks, have the skills to best perform their jobs.

Washington also says the CHCO council at its meeting last month laid out its 2010 strategic plan, which she says is tied to many of President Obama's stated priorities of openness and transparency in government.

Al Reynolds is the Deputy Chief Financial Officer at the Department of the Treasury and represented the CFO Council. He talked about government-wide efforts to modernize many out-of-date financial management systems in agencies.

"Right now, we have about $17 billion worth of efforts in looking at modernization developments that are in various stages of development. In some cases, contracts have not been let. That's a lot of money just for developing what we need to account for our funds, better report the outcome of our operations, as well as getting value for using information for decision making."

Reynolds adds that agency CFOs use tools like cost accounting to determine if they have the information they need for pursuing their high-quality goals.

On a related note, Mike Duffy, the Chief Information Officer with Treasury, and representing the CIO Council, says providing for the needs of his agency tops his list of performance management priorities.

One is just the management of IT projects. At Treasury, we spend over $3 billion, or a quarter of our discretionary budget, on IT, so managing that resource well is of paramount importance.

Duffy says one example of that in the context of performance management is the use of the IT Dashboard, which was started by federal chief information officer Vivek Kundra at the White House last year to measure and display the performance of IT spending at all federal agencies.

The newest of the Presidential management councils is the Performance Improvement Council, tied in directly with the President's stated mandates that he wants performance management to be a big part of his administration.

Doctor Rich Beck is Director of Planning and Performance Management at the Interior Department. He says the goal of the PIC is developing the use of performance as a management tool.

"In trying to follow the President's recent guidance on performance, we talked about setting high priority goals. One of the things the Performance Improvement Council is looking at right now is, what are the processes associated with that, how do we implement them, how do we make sure high priority goals are useful. "

Beck says at his agency, those goals are becoming "areas of change that we want to implement across the organization." He says by doing so, performance becomes a motivational force to drive the rest of the agency to meet goals of senior managers.

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