OMB pushes performance improvement

The Office of Management and Budget has wasted no time in gearing up its latest effort to improve agency program performance. Agency heads are to submit to OMB by Dec. 14 the names of the individuals they have appointed as performance improvement officers.

The requirement for a performance improvement officer is one of the provisions of an executive order that President Bush signed Nov. 13 to compel agencies to get better results from their programs.

Performance improvement officers will represent their agencies on the Performance Improvement Council, which is scheduled to meet for the first time Jan. 9, OMB said in a memo posted Dec. 7. The council will establish performance standards and evaluation criteria, exchange information among agencies, and coordinate and monitor performance assessments. The group also will keep the public informed of progress and make policy recommendations, said Clay Johnson, OMB’s deputy director for management.

The performance improvement officers will coordinate agencies’ performance management activities, including developing and improving strategic plans, ensuring program goals are aggressive and accurately measured, and assembling agency program management personnel to assess and improve performance and efficiency.

“This individual should be sufficiently senior in the organization and have the skills and connectivity to you, the head of the agency, to instill in the agency and its program managers the policy of improving program performance every year and ensuring sufficient attention to this initiative to make that policy a reality now and in the future,” Johnson said in the memo.

Agency heads will have to be more aware of the performance and efficiency goals of every program. By making the agency head formally responsible for improving performance, the executive order strengthens existing laws and mechanisms for measuring performance, such as the Government Performance and Results Act, Johnson said. The order also builds on the Program Assessment Rating Tool, which consists of questions and a scoring system that program managers use to measure how well they have carried out their program goals.

About the Author

Mary Mosquera is a reporter for Federal Computer Week.

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