OMB finally launches Performance.gov portal

Thursday - 8/25/2011, 5:44am EDT

By Jason Miller
Executive Editor
Federal News Radio

Almost a year after promising to publicly show agency performance management on an online dashboard, the Office of Management and Budget finally launched the Performance.gov website.

The portal went live Thursday.

Jeff Zients, OMB's deputy director for management and chief performance officer, said the site consolidates the information from other dashboards, such as the one for technology spending, in an effort to bring together all the components of the Obama administration's performance management agenda.

The consolidation is one of three goals of the site, Zients said in an interview with Federal News Radio.

"It makes much more sense to have performance data in one site so that agency leaders and the public know where to go to see the key performance metrics," he said. "Second we are adding new data sets. So if you go to the HR area, for example, we are looking at manager satisfaction on hiring and applicant satisfaction, looking at it agency-by-agency and that's new data. The third is we will be adding more and more data sets across time."

Zients said, for instance, OMB will add agency data center consolidation plans in the coming months to track how they will close 800 of these sites by 2015, and information on how agencies are disposing of federal real property.

Shelley Metzenbaum, OMB's associate director for performance and personnel, has been promising the launch of the site since November 2010.

In October 2010, Metzenbaum said during a conference that Performance.gov would not provide a governmentwide look at all high-priority goals. Instead, Metzenbaum said, users can sort by agency goals, theme or by project type.

"You can sort to find out all the goals based on budget categories. Or you could search by a word, such as climate change," she said at the time. "It will not be the federal government's full suite of climate change goals because these only will be the high-priority goals. But it allows you to look a little more coherently so you can see what we are trying to do."

OMB expected to launch the dashboard by the spring, and when that deadline passed, said it hoped to do so by July. But the administration delayed its launch for several reasons, including funding problems. Performance.gov was one of the sites that was affected by cuts to the E-Government fund.

"The E-government Fund cuts have had an effect," Metzenbaum said in an interview with Federal News Radio. "We haven't been able to push as far as would have liked and fix as many things as we would have liked to. We want to put information out there as accurately as possible and develop capacity to, for instance, where backlogs exist and we could know how the demand is changing and track it on the site."

The dashboard is part of the administration's initiative to improve how agencies meet their mission. Over the last two years, agencies have been working toward three-to-eight high priority goals. The White House last week asked agencies to reset their goals for the next two years by Sept. 12 as part of the Government Performance Management Modernization Act.

The launch of the portal comes just as agencies are finishing up their fiscal 2013 budget requests.

"In the areas of focus for Performance.gov are the central components of our performance agenda," Zients said. "These are the areas we have been talking about since the beginning of the administration."

The portal focuses on eight specific areas:

  • Acquisition

  • Financial management

  • Human resources

  • Technology

  • Open government

  • Performance improvement

  • Sustainability

  • Customer service
Under acquisition, for example, OMB details key initiatives such as developing the acquisition workforce or strategic sourcing.

Users also can go to specific agency acquisition pages. Under the Agriculture Department, the site lists the chief acquisition officer, how the agency is addressing the administration's key initiatives and specific agency data on the number of certified contract specialists.

"Performance.gov advances the commitment in the President's FY2011 budget to communicate candidly and concisely what the federal government is trying to accomplish, how it is trying to accomplish it and why these efforts are important," OMB wrote on the "About Us" section of the site. "All of the cabinet departments and eight other major agencies have home pages on Performance.gov. Each agency's home page describes the agency's mission. Each page also provides links to the agency's performance plans and reports and to pages showing agency progress on government-wide management initiatives."