Agencies fail to embrace incentives

Two years after enactment of the Federal Acquisition Streamlining Act federal agencies have not complied with provisions of the law that demand they offer performance incentives to their acquisition staffs according to a report by the General Accounting Office.

Agencies have made more progress setting cost schedule and performance goals for their acquisitions also required by the law. The report said the Defense Department in particular had complied with FASA provisions in these areas but that information provided to the Office of Management and Budget by civilian agencies was "incomplete inconsistent and generally not useful for establishing goals and measuring their attainment."

John Koskinen OMB's deputy director for management said the key to agency compliance with these FASA provisions is for them to develop performance measurements for their acquisitions. He said OMB is developing more detailed guidance for capital planning - to be issued next year with annual budget guidelines - that agencies will be able to use to report how well they met their acquisition goals.

That data will feed new personnel performance systems he said. "You need to know how the procurement is performing before you can decide whether the people are doing a good job."

According to the GAO review DOD complied with most of the FASA requirements but did not establish a personnel system with performance incentives by October 1995 as required. The Pentagon had the Logistics Management Institute study the problem and concluded there were several barriers to establishing such a system among them the fact that DOD is forbidden to give military personnel monetary incentives and cannot keep and reinvest money it saves.

GAO said the department plans "demonstration projects which may require several years to complete " as "the basis for the new personnel system."

OMB has decided to start over. Koskinen said OMB would convene an interagency group which would include the Office of Personnel Management to develop a set of guidelines that agencies will accept.

"Our goal is to try to make it effective rather than counterproductive " he said.

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