OMB to focus on solutions

Office of Management and Budget

Under the new administration, the Office of Management and Budget will place a greater emphasis on using current legislation to improve agency management, Sean O'Keefe testified Tuesday in his Senate confirmation hearing to become deputy director of budget at OMB.

In the last 10 years, Congress passed several pieces of legislation to improve management and performance within the federal government, including the Chief Financial Officers Act of 1990 and the Government Performance and Results Act (GPRA) of 1993. Agencies have poured tremendous effort into complying with those acts and submitting reports to Congress that detail an agency's problems, but very little effort has been expended in fixing problems, O'Keefe told the Senate Governmental Affairs Committee.

"If we put as much attention to the implementation side of the equation...as the federal government does to the reporting side, then we will lick this problem in short order," he said.

Earlier this month, OMB Director Mitchell Daniels released a memo to agencies emphasizing the need to improve performance and management at agencies, and that is a good first step, said Sen. Fred Thompson (R-Tenn.), chairman of the committee.

Management issues like these will be handled by the deputy director for management at OMB — once that person is named.

OMB should not become a micro-manager, but instead should focus on spreading best practices and helping agencies that, for the most part, still see these laws as asking for compliance, not as providing a tool to improve performance, O'Keefe said. "Until that mind set changes, and until we can find the means in each of these departments to make it a management tool...its utility is compromised," he said.

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