Bush management push wins praise from Clinton official

The Bush administration's effort to ramp up progress on its five-part management agenda has won praise from a veteran of the Clinton-era reinventing government campaign.

John Kamensky, who served as deputy director of the National Partnership for Reinventing Government (NPR) in the Clinton administration, said the Bush "Proud to Be" exercise, designed to move agencies into "yellow" status on the administration's traffic-light-style management scorecard by July 1, 2004, should speed reforms on the eve of the 2004 presidential election.

Clinton officials engaged in a similar goal-setting exercise before the 2000 election, but the Bush effort-spearheaded by Clay Johnson, President Bush's nominee to be deputy director of management at the Office of Management and Budget-is more focused on specific, measurable reforms, he said.

"Johnson is thinking much like [NPR Director] Morley Winograd did in terms of framing the issues and engaging political leaders," said Kamensky, who is now an associate partner with IBM Business Consulting Services, in a recent interview with Government Executive. "But unlike what happened with NPR, Johnson has laid out for each of the five elements what [administration officials] want agencies to look like."

In a May 22 speech to the National Academy of Public Administration, Johnson outlined management reforms he wants to see by the July 1, 2004 deadline. Thirteen months from now, Johnson expects each agency to make rapid strides on e-government projects and financial audits, as well as finish at least one public-private job competition.

Most of his goals are taken from assessments of where agencies should be "proud to be" that were written by the "owners" of the five reform items: e-government, personnel reform, financial management, competitive sourcing and linking budgets to performance.

Specifically, Johnson's "Proud To Be" goals are: Personnel Reform:

  • All agencies should have human capital plans and succession plans.
  • Members of the Senior Executive Service should be evaluated by a new performance appraisal system.

Competitive Sourcing :

  • Each agency should have finished at least one standard job competition."We will have gone through that to the point where everybody will have demonstrated their ability to do [a competition]," said Johnson.
  • Agencies will have personnel and policies in place to run job competitions fairly.

Financial Management :

  • Half of all agencies should have submitted their financial audits 45 days after the end of fiscal 2003. Only the Treasury Department and Social Security Administration met the 45-day deadline this year.
  • All agencies, with the exception of the Defense Department, should achieve clean audits in fiscal 2003. This year, 21 out of 24 agencies covered by the 1990 Chief Financial Officers Act earned clean audits.
  • 2003 financial audits should show a 50 percent reduction in material weaknesses, and agencies should have "virtually no" violations of the 1905 Antideficiency Act, which bars agencies from spending more than their appropriated budgets.
  • Efforts to reduce the number of agencies processing employee paychecks from 22 to four should be on schedule. In January, Office of Personnel Management Director Kay Coles James said a new consolidated payroll system would be up and running by the fall of 2004.

E-Government:

  • Eighty percent of federal IT systems should be certified as secure.
  • Twenty out of 24 e-government initiatives should be up and running. "Those projects are dramatically changing the way the American people relate to the federal government and vice versa," said Johnson.

Linking Budgets to Performance:

  • Sixty percent of all federal programs will have been rated using OMB's Program Assessment Rating Tool (PART). Agencies should develop efficiency measures for all rated programs.
  • OMB will be able to base budget and management decisions on PART reviews for "about half of those programs," said Johnson.

Johnson views these reforms as substantial management achievements. "I guarantee you could not have said that about the federal government, or any agency in the federal government, let alone the average agency, three years ago," he told the audience at the National Academy of Public Administration.

But Johnson's confirmation remains in limbo. Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., has put a hold on his nomination in a dispute over port security funding.

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