White House memo puts COOs on the hot seat

Federal departments and agencies must redouble their efforts to identify and cut wasteful spending and to improve performance, according to a new policy memo from the White House.

The Aug. 17 memo to federal chief operating officers, written by Office of Management and Budget Director Jacob Lew and Chief Performance Officer Jeffrey Zients, provides guidance in two areas: reducing wasteful spending and boosting performance.

The White House instruction was released on the same day as a separate memo from Lew ordering federal chief financial officers to prepare budgets reflecting a 5 percent cut for fiscal 2013 and to prepare for additional cuts of up to 10 percent (read story here).

The additional policy guidance on waste and performance urges federal COOs to make it a top priority to comply with President Barack Obama’s June 28 executive order and subsequent Campaign to Cut Waste. The campaign is being led by Vice President Joe Biden and a committee that includes several inspector generals.

“COOs must ensure that their agencies are redoubling their efforts to cut waste,” Lew and Zients wrote.

For the performance goals, the 39-page memo offers detailed guidance on meeting the requirements of the Government Performance and Results Modernization Act of 2010. Under the law, the White House will consult with congressional committee and executive agency staff and other advisors to set federal performance goals by February 2014.

Agency heads are required to turn in proposals for suggested priority goals by Sept. 12, which, following OMB review and further modifications, will be published for the public in February 2012.

Under the law, the agency priority goals are supposed to dovetail with cross-agency management goals, such as improvements in information technology management.

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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