Agencies submit annual performance plans to Congress

On Monday, federal agencies sent Congress their annual performance plans for fiscal 2002, outlining how they will meet the Bush administration's goals of flattening the federal hierarchy and beefing up performance-based contracting. Under the 1993 Government Performance and Results Act, agencies must submit annual performance plans to Congress that spell out what they hope to accomplish in the coming year, along with their budget requests. This year, Office of Management and Budget Director Mitch Daniels asked agency leaders to set goals for using more performance-based contracts, increasing online procurement and electronic government and expanding public-private competitions under OMB Circular A-76. Specifically, OMB directed agencies to use performance-based techniques on at least 20 percent of all service contracts worth more than $25,000 in fiscal 2002, and to put up for competition at least 5 percent of the positions on their Federal Activities Inventory Reform (FAIR) Act lists over the next fiscal year. OMB also directed agencies to address a series of governmentwide reforms, including the reduction of management layers. Several agencies have already made their performance plans available to the public. The Office of Personnel Management, for example, said in its report that it would review projected rates of attrition among supervisory and managerial positions and use those statistics in succession planning and de-layering efforts. In their plans, OPM and the Commerce Department compared the ratio of supervisors to non-supervisors in their agencies in recent years. The Transportation Department did not include a specific goal for streamlining management layers in its performance plan because OMB has yet to issue guidance on the subject. "I am not yet aware of specific targets for de-layering," a senior Transportation official said. The OPM, Commerce and Transportation reports gave little detail as to how they would meet the Bush goal of competing or converting 5 percent of jobs on their FAIR Act lists. Agencies have two options for opening up jobs to the private sector under Bush's directive: public-private competitions and direct conversions, in which jobs are converted without competition. OPM said only that it plans to "make strategic sourcing decisions" to comply with the administration's policy. Commerce did not specify whether it would use direct conversions or public-private competitions, but did say it would count updated results of previous cost comparisons for work that was retained in-house toward the 5 percent goal. To support the administration's contracting initiatives, agencies pledged to use performance-based contracts and e-government. OPM said it is already meeting the Bush goal of having at least 20 percent of its service contracts worth more than $25,000 awarded using performance-based contracting.

Both Transportation and Commerce intend to meet that goal in 2002 and said they already post appropriate procurement solicitations on FedBizOpps.gov, the government's one-stop online source for procurement solicitations and bids. The General Accounting Office plans to review agencies' performance reports and plans and will issue a report on them later this year. The Mercatus Center at George Mason University in Arlington, Va., is reviewing performance plans governmentwide, but its analysis will not be ready until mid-May, a spokesman said.

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