Feds get better grades

Score card updates on Results.gov

For the first time, agencies showed significant improvement in the competitive sourcing component of the President's Management Agenda, but agencies still aren't getting high marks overall for their efforts in technology management.

Many agencies' scores, updated quarterly by the Office of Management and Budget, showed progress. But some, including those for the Treasury and Homeland Security departments, remained stuck on red, a failing score.

In the latest OMB score card, several agencies moved from red to yellow for their competitive sourcing initiatives. Eight agencies showed improvement in putting government services out for bid, one of the most difficult areas for agencies to tackle.

"It had been the one where there had been the least change," said Clay Johnson, OMB's deputy director for management. "It [was the area that] most stymied agency leadership. It was a scary world, and there wasn't a lot of experience on how to do it."

The score card, released this month and dated Sept. 30, shows agency status and progress in five areas: strategic workforce management, expanded use of e-government, increased competitive bidding, improved financial performance and linking performance to budget. Agencies are given a red, yellow or green score in each area.

Agencies have been working on improving their approach to competitive sourcing for the past two years, and the revision of OMB's Circular A-76 has provided guidance for those efforts. Among the agencies improving from a red to a yellow score were the Agriculture, Commerce, Health and Human Services, Interior, Justice and Transportation departments and the General Services Administration. The Defense and Education departments and the Office of Personnel Management once again scored yellow as they did in June.

The improved scores do not mean that agencies have fully achieved competitive sourcing goals but that they have made some strides toward opening appropriate government jobs to competition with the private sector, Johnson said.

"They have demonstrated their ability, and they have an aggressive plan they are committed to completing," he said. "They've made a certain person responsible for it, so when you get real management attention and focus on it, you start demonstrating your ability to do it professionally and responsibly."

Stan Soloway, president of the Professional Services Council, said the constant amendments to competitive sourcing regulations have made agencies cautious about conducting competition studies. "We're hearing from the agencies, 'We don't know what to do,' " he said.

"Slowly the agencies have been embracing the concept," he added. "There is a growing recognition with the budget constraints that exist that the agencies have to do this, but that doesn't mean it's fully sunk in yet."

This round of scores showed little change in agencies' current status on the other four initiatives on the agenda, and still only four green scores were given despite a host of green scores in the progress column.Johnson said achieving a green rating is no easy task and may take many years.

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