• Retired Marine Expected to Lead Secret Service

    Retired Marine Expected to Lead Secret Service

    Retired Marine Major Gen. Randolph Alles, the current U.S. Customs and Border deputy, is expected to be named the new head of Secret Service, according to a former law enforcement official familiar with the selection process.

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Telling our story, before someone else tells it for us.

OMB'\u2019's report on the cost of the Federal Shutdown was full of dramatic evidence about what the Federal government does for the country and the economic impact of all of that work. Why then did so many members of Congress and quite a few citizens seem to discount or even embrace halting this important work? There are many explanations, but from a performance management and reporting perspective, perhaps it's time we hold the mirror up to ourselves. Why does it take a partisan battle and public outrage to coax the White House into releasing a clear, concise and heavily publicized report on government outcomes and impacts?

Other developed countries around the world promote their scorecards and national grades, while we continue to lag behind. We've had multiple groups call for a national "receipt" that would provide a simple summation of what each taxpayer is actually getting for their money. Beyond government, look at the glossy and sometimes enormous shareholder reports that come from the world's largest companies, while these reports emphasize financial results they also touch on leading indicators and the work these corporations do to improve their customers" lives. Some products have obvious tangible value, but much of what where we spend our money depends on the message and value conveyed by the organization, particularly non-profits. With the sheer volume of data now being captured, a better reporting tool, with more impact on our stakeholders, including elected officials and taxpayers, is a clear next step.

When discussing performance reporting with members of Congress and their staff, I frequently hear the same words, "boring, not relevant, not interesting, and don't really look at it." When discussing government work with my non-government friends and family outside of Washington, I frequently hear, "tell me why we are paying these taxes and what are we getting for it?" Isn't it time we take these complaints and questions seriously. If we don't tell our story better, someone will tell it for us. In fact they already are.

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Posted in Performance Pickup

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Re-energizing the Management Agenda

Compared to the focus on management during both the Clinton and George W. Bush administrations, President Obama's interest has waned in recent years. This summer's short speech on management was fairly obligatory and couldn't have been shorter or unfortunately, more ignored. Peter Orzag, the President's first Director at Office of Management and Budget (OMB), a clear champion of performance and better management, recently published this article. However, his early departure downshifted management priorities in the first term.

Now, the end of the shutdown and a predictable citizen's backlash on ill conceived management decisions seem to some like a chance for a fresh start for the Administration and perhaps President Obama's management priorities as well. Just this week, the new OMB leadership team finally was put in place, with a new Management Director, Beth Cobert, who is almost completely unknown in Washington and with next to no government experience. One interesting piece of insight came from then Federal CIO Steven VanRoekel who told a recent audience not to expect "three ring binders and press releases." Given burnout on new buzzword laden initiatives and a resource crunch to simply get through the fiscal year, this is a winning move; instead small successes and the continued implementation of the Government Performance and Results Modernization Act (GPRMA) should be considered victories.  <\/p>\r\n

Much more intriguing than top down pronouncements are the continued progress we continue to see in a variety of bureaus, departments and sub-cabinet level organizations. A recent example of the promising practices we're seeing bubble up below the Cabinet level includes The US Army Corps of Engineers. At The Corps, military leadership working with civilian senior executives have implemented a ""4x4" Campaign Plan that simply and elegantly outlines the four key goals in four distinct areas. All goals and the corresponding actions are structured in a logic model format, with early outcomes in critical areas like National Water Resources and National Infrastructure utilized to spot early success as well as potential early warning signs of trouble.

Army Corps leadership was recently told by OMB that the Campaign Plan has simply and successfully communicated priorities, challenges and accomplishments to the Administration. For an agency that until recently had most of its work dictated through Congressional earmarks, this new strategic approach is showing a new level of management maturity and gaining advocates for linking budgets to outcomes.

Those of us thinking about the next Management Agenda and how the Administration will tackle performance issues, perhaps the best thing to do is to examine the successes around government that needed only strong agency leadership and a determined course of action.

Posted in Performance Pickup

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Finding The Unicorn: Where is Performance Based Budgeting?

I will do my utmost in this space to avoid hitting anyone over the head with the latest government news that they've already heard. However, the current Federal "Shutdown" is hard to avoid from a performance and management perspective, especially when perhaps the critical piece of the story has gone unsaid. Why have we drifted so far from linking goals and objectives to performance? I've taken to calling Performance-Based Budgeting "The Government Management Unicorn."

We talk about it often and think we could identify it, but no one has really ever seen it, at least on a Federal level. When I joined the Performance Institute nine years ago, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) was actively discussing Performance-Based Budgeting (PBB) and developing a structure to implement it through the Program Assessment Rating Tool (PART). We worked with both OMB and agencies to understand how effective programs were, what the expected results looked like, and what effect the current levels of performance would have on future budget levels.

 

There have been a number of studies and reports that have shown some to little correlation between PART scores and budget allocation. One such study by GAO found a statistically significant relationship between the President's proposed budgetary increases and the PART ratings for all 234 programs assessed in fiscal year 2004. This included a positive and statistically significant effect on funding levels for 196 discretionary programs, suggesting that federal discretionary programs with better ratings were more likely to receive a higher level of the proposed budget. Of course, the same study concluded the PART scores did not factor into the President's Budget Submission and that Congress viewed PART information skeptically. However, the overall conclusion in a number of GAO and Academic studies was the same; the PART process forced managers to take a more serious view of performance and results, with likely impacts to their budgets at some point.

Looking forward from 2005 or 2006 it seemed that further refinement of these tools and a strong desire by OMB to bring budget and performance together were perfectly timed to reflect a growing sentiment to control spending and efficiently bring better results. Now, eight years later some of these developments seem like baby steps that went absolutely nowhere. While performance metrics, data analysis and better strategic planning are all part of regular conversation, the connection to budgeting has gone missing. In fact, a Federal official told me earlier this year that I should stop referring to "Performance Based Budgeting" at all, as political and fiscal realities had reduced it to a theory in a textbook.

Instead, we've moved on to "evidence based budgeting" as discussed in this OMB Management memo, an excellent idea, but really more of a small pilot at this point than a serious attempt at linking budgets to results. Why has this happened? And where is Performance-Based Budgeting still going strong? Do you have stories you can share on attempts to link budget to resources? I''d like to hear from you and will discuss this topic more in the weeks ahead.

Posted in Performance Pickup

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This Week on FEDtalk

This Week on FEDtalk: Plan Your Summer in the National Parks

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