Critical Read

A guide to creating a culture of performance

Shutterstock image: developing a plan.

What: “Putting Together the Performance Pieces: A Practical Guide for Federal Agencies,” from the Partnership for Public Service. The PPS report looks at performance practices used by federal agencies that work, and the lessons learned from them.

Why: The Government Performance and Results Modernization Act of 2010 put renewed focus on performance and required the Office of Management and Budget to designate goals. The Partnership for Public Service and Grant Thornton LLP researched performance practices over the past five years, bringing together focus groups of leaders and staff from six large federal departments. The key findings look at how agencies can create a culture of performance improvement.

-- Connect program activities to agency priorities: Strengthen the link between the department’s goals and the staff’s day-to-day work and seek input, suggestions and feedback from employees and staff who are familiar with the programs when creating strategic planning documents.

-- Get the analytical talent you need: Performance staff said they need employees with both advanced analytical and communication skills in order to translate data into information that can help with making decisions.

--Build Meaningful Relationships: In-person conversations between headquarters, performance staff and employees in the field offices add context to the numbers and creates a more open environment around performance discussions.

--Move from data to information: Standardize the way data is collected across regions or offices to make it easier to gain insights and get rid of outdated data collection requirements when possible.

--Demonstrate Return on Investment: Connect staff who have performance management, program evaluation and budget expertise skills in the agency, even if they work in different sections of an organization. Clearly define how programs are evaluated so staff’s efforts to show return on investment are consistent.

The 2016 elections will bring leadership change and potentially new administrative goals, so it’s important for agencies to identify what performance practices are working well. According to the report, there is still a lot of work to be done. The average grade subcomponent performance staff gave their agencies’ performance culture was a “C” with 13 percent giving their agencies an “F.” That is worse than 2013’s report card. On the brighter side, 48 percent of respondents gave their agencies a “B” on their progress since the GPRA Modernization Act.

Verbatim: “As agencies face leadership transitions, they should take the opportunity now to document what is working well and what practices should be abandoned. Noting which practices have been promising for other departments, agencies and subcomponents allows federal agencies to take advantage of the knowledge that comes from some hard-learned lessons.”

Full Report: Read the full report here.

About the Author

Bianca Spinosa is an Editorial Fellow at FCW.

Spinosa covers a variety of federal technology news for FCW including workforce development, women in tech, and the intersection of start-ups and agencies. Prior to joining FCW, she was a TV journalist for more than six years, reporting local news in Virginia, Kentucky, and North Carolina. Spinosa is currently pursuing her Master’s degree in Writing at George Mason University, where she also teaches composition. She earned her B.A. from the University of Virginia.

Click here for previous articles by Spinosa, or connect with her on Twitter: @BSpinosa.


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