GAO: OMB can improve score card process

The Office of Management and Budget could improve the way it grades agencies on financial management, according to a report from the Government Accountability Office.

OMB generally does a good job, according to the report, but GAO suggests establishing a process to more methodically document the basis for important decisions and judgments made in determining scores. GAO also recommends that OMB give receipts to agencies for approved green plans, which earn agencies a top score on the three-tiered President’s Management Agenda quarterly score card.

A green score means an agency is applying its initiatives as planned. Yellow shows a need for adjustments to achieve the objectives in a timely manner and red means an initiative is in jeopardy.

The score card evaluates agencies in five areas of the management agenda: workforce, competitive sourcing, financial performance, e-government, and budget and performance integration.

As of Sept. 30, eight agencies earned green scores for financial performance. However, 16 agencies earn the red. No agencies improved or backslid from their June 30 scores, according to the score card.

OMB has a reasonable process for assessing scores for financial management, the GAO report states. Seven of nine criteria are objective and verifiable from publicly available information. Two however are more subjective, relying on the judgments of OMB officials. The criteria are based on whether agencies can produce accurate financial information for managers to inform decision-making in key operations and whether agencies have plans to continue expansion of the data’s routine use, according to the report.

OMB Controller Linda Combs wrote in a letter to GAO that OMB already is improving the review process. It is developing a tracking system for green plans and summaries for all green plan initiatives. The initiatives clarify what initiatives are approved and how they meet green plan criteria, according to the GAO report.

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