OMB unveils detailed plans for performance management changes

The Office for Management and Budget is pressing ahead with federal performance management reform, taking on the issue in its latest Circular A-11. The documents, part of OMB's guidance for agencies in preparing their budget requests for fiscal year 2014, include new plans directing agencies toward better management of performance goals.

The broad, multi-year efforts are aimed at boosting accountability and operations throughout the government. Central to the reform plans is the mandatory use of Performance.gov, the central location where agencies will be posting their goals, plans, progress, reviews and other information – some on a quarterly basis.

“Performance.gov is a website that serves as the public window on the federal government’s goals and performance in key areas of focus,” OMB officials wrote in the circular. “A centralized website will make information about federal cross-agency and agency-specific goals and performance easier for the public, Congress, delivery partners, agency employees, and other stakeholders to find. It will also support coordination and decision-making to advance shared goals.”

The website will feature agency and cross-agency priority goals, federal program inventory, strategic agency plans and annual performance plans and reports.

To get there, OMB is calling on agencies to help, including by developing government-wide performance data standards and publishing content on the central website as well as in existing formats, the guidance noted.

OMB is taking a phased approach in getting agencies’ information up and running on the site. Priority goals – those focusing on near-term outcomes, customer service and efficiencies – will go up first and are slated to go live this fall. More information will come online beginning with the release of the president’s 2014 budget in February 2013 and continuing throughout the year. All information is required to be posted in machine-readable format – primarily XML – but in 2014 agencies will also start posting it in web-display format, according to the guidance.

For now, agencies must post the information on Performance.gov, but they also can choose to post it on their own websites. Beginning with the release of the 2015 budget, agencies will have to prominently display on their webpage a link to their information on Performance.gov.

At the heart of the website’s use are three principles stemming from the White House’s Open Government Directive, released in 2009: transparency, participation and collaboration.

“Agencies should establish communications strategies consistent with the Open Government Directive that will engage the public and various stakeholders, including employees, either through websites, social media or other collaborative efforts, taking care to do so at a reasonable administrative burden,” OMB’s documents stated. “It is important that agencies communicate relevant, reliable and timely performance information within and outside their organizations to improve performance outcomes and operational efficiency.”

About the Author

Amber Corrin is a former staff writer for FCW and Defense Systems.

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