Administration orders accountability for program performance

The Bush administration issued an executive order Nov. 13 to improve federal program performance and make agencies accountable for the performance of their programs.

Under the terms of the order, agency heads must approve annual and long-term goals toward improved program performance, specific plans for achieving them and approaches to measure them. Agencies must put in place the means to ensure continuous accountability for program goals and using resources in the most efficient way to accomplish program goals.

The Office of Management and Budget will provide guidance to agencies on the content and schedule of the program goals and the program performance information to be available on the agency Web site.

Agencies will select an agency performance improvement officer, who will be a member of the Senior Executive Service or of equivalent standing, to lead the program performance effort. That includes overseeing the development of program goals and plans and the agency’s annual performance plans, convene the agency personnel to assess the performance of individual programs and determine how to improve them.

The agency performance improvement officer must be “sufficiently aggressive toward full achievement” of this effort, President Bush said in the order.

OMB also will establish a Performance Improvement Council consisting of agency improvement officers and an OMB representative to support implementation of the policy, exchange information and best practices to accelerate better program performance and monitor agencies’ progress.

Last week, Clay Johnson, OMB's deputy director for management, said the administration will put the program performance initiative in place in the next nine to 12 months.

“We want attention paid at the highest level of every agency of how programs perform,” he said at a Nov. 7 conference of the American Association for Budget and Program Analysis.

The goals that are detailed in the Program Assessment Rating Tool, or PART, should be the same as the budget goals and a program’s general goals for the year for performance, outcome, efficiency and performance improvement. Agencies use PART, which consists of a scoring system for answers to 25 questions, to measure success of their programs.

About the Author

Mary Mosquera is a reporter for Federal Computer Week.

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