Agencies still seeing red

Baseline scorecard

Red is still the primary color agencies and the public will see on the management scorecard the Bush administration released today, but progress is being made as a host of agencies moved up to yellow in this second year of grading.

The Office of Management and Budget created the scorecard in 2001 as a simple way to measure agencies' success on and progress toward addressing the five areas in the President's Management Agenda: strategic workforce management, expanded use of e-government, increased competitive bidding of government services, improved financial performance and linking performance to budgets.

Sixteen agencies moved from red to yellow in any one of the five areas. One agency, the National Science Foundation, moved from yellow to green in e-government. NSF also has the only other green on the status scorecard, in the financial performance area.

Many more agencies received green scores on the progress scorecards, which measure how well agencies are doing on their plan and milestones toward raising their status. Those progress reports are updated every quarter via the administration's Results.gov Web site.

This upward movement shows that attention focused on specific management issues combined with healthy competition among agencies and departments works as a way to improve government performance, said Mark Everson, OMB's deputy director for management. No one likes to get a low score and agency heads will often talk to one another to find out how the others improved their scores, he said.

The competitive sourcing area is now the only one where all of the status scores are red, indicating that every agency has failed at least one of the criteria set by OMB. However, competitive sourcing also is the area that is starting from the lowest point, said Angela Styles, administrator of OMB's Office of Federal Procurement Policy.

In March 2001, only one public/private competition was under way in the civilian agencies, most of which had no idea how to go about conducting such a competition, Styles said. Now, with OMB expecting to release the revised guidance for competitions by the end of February, most agencies have developed plans for conducting multiple competitions, she said.

"Given where we started...we've made a significant amount of progress," she said.

Overall, the government is clearly a long way from its goal, Everson said. "We started all right, [but there is] a lot more distance to travel," he said.

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