White House set to monitor federal performance goals online

Memos to senior federal executives today outline plans for Performance.gov portal

President Barack Obama and White House leaders today reached out to approximately 8,000 federal executive-level managers to enlist their support in improving performance in six areas, as well as to alert them that agency performance will be tracked regularly on a new Performance.gov website, which will go public this fall.

Under the administration’s Accountable Government Initiative, the focus in the coming months will be on advancing agency top priorities, cutting waste, reforming contracting, closing the IT gap, promoting open government and attracting top talent, according to a memo today from Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Deputy Management Director Jeffrey Zients, which was addressed to members of the Senior Executive Service (SES).

To hold managers accountable and foster transparency, the White House has worked with agencies to establish plans and benchmarks for each goal. Progress on achieving those benchmarks will be made available to the public on Performance.gov, Zients wrote.

“This one-stop shop for federal performance information will provide access to management dashboards related to each performance strategy,” Zients wrote. “It will also provide in-depth information on agency priority goals and key performance indicators, measures, and milestones.”


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Obama expressed his support for the initiative in a separate memo to the senior executive managers. It is the first time a president has addressed SES members as a group since President George H.W. Bush did so in the early 1980s, according to the Washington Post.

"As the most senior managers in the federal government, you know how essential the work you and your colleagues do is to the nation," Obama wrote. "You also are aware what happens when your best efforts are thwarted by outdated technologies and outmoded ways of doing business."

The federal executives have a special role in carrying out the goals of the initiative and in building support for improved performance, Zients added in his memo.

“The members of the Senior Executive Service play a pivotal role in executing this agenda,” Zients wrote. “As individuals, you serve as the link between your agencies’ political leadership, front-line managers, and employees. Your experience, expertise, and passion must drive the implementation of performance improvement efforts within your organizations. As a group, you set the tone and expectations for what the federal workforce can accomplish. For us to succeed in overcoming skepticism and bureaucratic inertia, we need you to spread the belief that performance improvements are not only critical, they are well within our reach."

Zients, in his memo, offered an overview of the top six performance strategies:

  • Driving agency top priorities by focusing on delivering outcomes and results, rather than crisis management
  • Cutting wasteful spending by reducing low-priority programs and eliminating programs that do not work, are outdated or are duplicative; target goal is a 5 percent reduction in spending in fiscal 2012
  • Saving $40 billion on contracting annually by reducing high-risk and non-competitive contracts
  • Closing the information technology gap between government and the private sector by improving management, adopting more efficient IT and improving federal cybersecurity
  • Strengthening accountability, innovation and transparency and
  • Attracting and motivating top talent by improving the federal human resource policy and personnel system.

About the Author

Alice Lipowicz is a staff writer covering government 2.0, homeland security and other IT policies for Federal Computer Week.

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