OMB score card neglects citizens, report states

President's Management Agenda report

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The Executive Branch Management Score Card that measures the use of e-government in agencies neglects citizen input, according to a new report.

The Office of Management and Budget scores agencies quarterly on how well they are instituting the President's Management Agenda, but the scoring leaves goals related to citizens untracked, said Jenny Whitmer, senior research analyst at Government Insights, an IDC company, and author of the report, “Citizen-Centered eGovernment Needs Performance Measures for Success.”

OMB needs to measure citizen satisfaction or possibly risk ignoring the citizen-centered aspect of the initiative as agencies push to match the agenda’s performance metrics, according to the report, which was released today.

“For all the emphasis the [agenda] admirably puts on leveraging [e-government] to strengthen government’s citizen service, the OMB score card exhibits a serious deficiency in actually taking that initiative,” Whitmer wrote.

OMB’s score card evaluates agencies in five areas of the agenda: workforce, competitive sourcing, financial performance, budget and performance integration, and e-government. In the fourth quarter of fiscal 2006, eight agencies earned red scores in e-government, 10 earned yellow and eight green.

The report recommends that OMB's scoring criteria add citizen satisfaction metrics from focus groups, surveys and polls. Several groups, such as the University of Michigan’s quarterly American Customer Satisfaction Index, already gauge what citizens think about e-government.

Whitmer also suggests comparing federal agencies in the U.S. to other governments. The United Nations, for instance, tracks the progress of e-government worldwide. Canada, Australia and New Zealand have well-developed methods to assess citizen feedback on their e-government initiatives, Whitmer wrote.

OMB influences agencies’ behavior with the score card, Whitmer said.

“For better or worse, performance measures drive the direction of an organization’s efforts,” she said. When performance measures get so much attention from agencies, their effect is not trivial, she wrote in the report.

Current metrics focus on enterprise architecture, information technology investments with good business cases, investment planning under earned value management analysis, secured IT systems and the inspector general’s rating of secured systems, and agencies' use of e-government.

“This administration’s goal is to champion citizen-centered electronic government that will result in a major improvement in the federal government’s value to the citizen,” the agenda’s introductory report from fiscal 2002 states.

Agencies are feeling the pressure to incorporate the agenda into their organizations, Whitmer wrote. To meet the administration’s citizen-centered objective, “a comparison of the goals and the performance measures used to track them suggests a mismatch,” the report states.

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