Lawmaker: Score cards don't work without penalties

Grading agencies on issues doesn't change their behavior if the grades aren’t backed up with consequences, Rep. Charles Gonzalez (D-Texas) said at a hearing today.

“Nothing ever changes” with score cards, said Gonzalez, chairman of the Small Business Committee's Regulations, Health Care and Trade Subcommittee. Score cards don’t mean much if there are no penalties to go along with poor scores, he said.

“The problem is always going to be accountability,” he said at a hearing about the federal workforce's proportions of Hispanic and minority employees.

Bush administration officials disagreed, saying publicly announcing a failing grade makes agencies want to change how they operate. The Small Business Administration in 2007 issued its first Small Business Procurement Scorecard, and former SBA Administrator Steve Preston said in interviews afterward that agencies began calling him to figure out how to improve their grades.

However, agencies have yet to reach many of their small-business contracting goals, Gonzalez said.

The Small Business Committee also releases score cards on the administration's policies that concern those businesses.


The Office of Management and Budget posts its quarterly Executive Branch Management Scorecard. It gives agencies a green, yellow or red score in each of five areas: competitive sourcing, financial performance, e-government, performance improvement and human capital. Green is the top score, and red is a failing grade.

Daryl Hairston, SBA’s deputy associate administrator of management and administration, said the agency is working hard to get a top score in human capital. SBA received a yellow score from OMB in the first quarter of 2008.

Nancy Kichak, associate director of strategic human resources policy at the Office of Personnel Management, said the score cards work. In the most recent score card, for the first quarter of fiscal 2008, 17 of 24 agencies earned top scores in the human capital initiative, and none received a failing grade.

About the Author

Matthew Weigelt is a freelance journalist who writes about acquisition and procurement.

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