OMB seeks more volunteers for PAR pilot

The Office of Management and Budget this year will expand its pilot program to produce a more readable and usable format for agencies' annual consolidated Performance and Accountability Report (PAR), Clay Johnson, OMB’s deputy director for management, has said in a memo.

The pilot program seeks to make the presentation of agency financial and performance information more understandable and transparent to Congress, the public and other agencies, Johnson said in the memo issued June 5.  He also encouraged agencies to use Internet links in their reports to give the reader more access to pertinent information along with evidence backing up claims.

Eleven agencies participated last year, the pilot program’s first year, and OMB anticipates more this year.

“We strongly encourage other agencies to participate,” Johnson said. Agencies must notify OMB by June 30 if they plan to take part.

Last year, the participants produced a “highlights” section, which summarized information from the agency financial and performance reports. OMB and agencies received positive feedback from outside groups on the enhancements, Johnson noted.

“The resounding recommendation is for agencies to continue to improve the PAR pilot in [fiscal] 2008,” Johnson said.

Agencies reported to OMB that participation in the pilot compelled them to focus more on the most important measures and management challenges and to make the documents more readable for their employees and other interested parties, he said.

Agencies participating in the program this year would prepare a 25-page Citizens’ Report that sums up key financial and performance issues, key goals and how funds are spent to meet those goals, he said. The Performance Improvement Council and the Chief Financial Officers Council also recommended that agencies provide information on the results of their strategic goals, including shortcomings, successes and associated costs.

All major agencies, regardless of whether they participate in the program, will be required to create a two-page summary that gives the reader a quick snapshot of agency results and continue to produce their voluminous consolidated Performance and Accountability Report, which contains exhaustive agency details and data, Johnson said.

Agencies that use the Budget Formulation and Execution Manager, a fee-for-service budget system available from the Treasury Department under the Budget Formulation and Execution Line of Business, will be able to streamline the process of creating their performance and accountability report.

Also, agencies that use the system’s Performance Management Module will no longer have to use OMB’s PARTWeb system to enter in performance data and submit it to OMB. Instead, agency performance data will automatically be sent to OMB informally during the fall and spring updates.

“These efficiencies should allow agencies to focus more staff time on analyzing performance data instead of the process of creating the PAR,” Johnson said.

About the Author

Mary Mosquera is a reporter for Federal Computer Week.

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