Management scores rise

Score card updates on

Agencies showed higher marks in overall technology management since last fall and have demonstrated significant progress in the past year, according to Office of Management and Budget officials.

In the latest quarterly score card released by OMB, agencies received eight green scores, the highest mark, up from four last quarter, in human capital management, financial performance, e-government, and budget and performance integration -- all components of the President's Management Agenda. And where agencies were scoring mainly red, or failing, in the December 2002 report, most showed more yellow scores and eight green scores, up from two.

The Energy Department and the Office of Personnel Management made the most progress since the start of the agenda in August 2001, said Clay Johnson, OMB's deputy director for management. Some agencies, however, such as the Department of Housing and Urban Development, the Treasury Department and OMB continue to stay stuck in the red.

OPM and Energy "can demonstrate to other agencies the most accomplishment toward where we want the entire government," Johnson said.

Although still scoring yellow in all areas, Energy started the process with all failing scores. The department is closing workforce skill gaps, establishing strong competitive sourcing practices and integrating multiple management systems, OMB officials said. OPM was one of two agencies to receive a green score for e-government, which OMB officials credited to a comprehensive cybersecurity program.

Despite the progress, the challenge remains for agencies to work with Congress to ensure the budget process is linked to agency performance, Johnson said. Lawmakers must develop a new way of thinking for appropriations, focusing more on whether programs actually work.

"Our budget now is not solely based on performance," Johnson said. "There's still resistance from Congress. It's our challenge to work with them to cause our process to be even more focused on results."

In the fiscal 2005 budget, OMB will recommend $1 billion worth of programs be canceled, Johnson said. He declined to give a list of the programs before the budget is released next week, but estimated it to be about 20 programs. However, not all programs that do not demonstrate effectiveness are zeroed out, he said, and often, money is put into improving the programs.

"It's not true that bad results means a reduction in budget," he said. "A lot of times the recommendation is to increase the funding to make it effective."

One of the most arduous areas of the management agenda is competitive sourcing, where agencies only recently began demonstrating progress. Officials lack hard data on how and when to make outsourcing work, Johnson said. OMB plans to summarize the information available on competitive sourcing and present a report around May, he said.

"We're in the process of trying to get out of the anecdote business and get into the business of facts," Johnson said. "That information needs to be out there so we can have a much more intelligent discussion moving forward."

Overall, agencies improved their performance in about half of the 130 management areas in the agenda, up from 15 percent two years ago, he said. There were 62 green and yellow scores, up from 34 two years ago. This demonstrates the effectiveness of the score card in raising top-level managers' awareness to key management issues and motivating agencies to make progress, Johnson said.

Despite the presidential election this fall, officials have not focused on how to ensure the agenda continues, he said. "Is there a way to institutionalize this if the voters call us home in the fall?" he asked. "I think a whole lot of it is on its own merits."

Although legislation and executive orders may help in the future to ensure the concepts of the agenda continue, "agencies seem to be getting it," Johnson said.


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