Agency management scorecards still in the red

Most agencies are still struggling to implement key pieces of the president's management reform plan, despite a few improvements over the past year, Office of Management and Budget officials said Monday. "We've seen significant progress in some cases, and there are some cases where we're not pleased with our progress," Office of Management and Budget Controller Mark Everson said during a budget briefing Monday following the release of the administration's mid-session budget review. The review measured the ability of agencies to overhaul themselves in five key management areas set forth in the president's management agenda: human capital management, competitive sourcing, financial management, electronic government and linking performance to budgets. The administration devised a "traffic light" grading system--green for success, yellow for mixed results and red for unsatisfactory--and released its first red-light dominated scorecard in February. The mid-year review includes 109 red lights, 19 yellow lights and two green lights. The National Science Foundation, which scored a green light in financial management during the first review and was the only agency at that time to score a green light in any category, earned a second green light in e-government for fixing its information security problems. The Social Security Administration and the Departments of Energy and Labor managed to climb up a notch to yellow in at least one area. SSA improved in performance-based budgeting by creating a new budget system that is connected to its financial management system, OMB said. Energy officials aggressively developed and implemented a strategic workforce plan, leading to improvements in the agency's human capital management score. Corrections to financial systems helped the Labor Department move from red to yellow in the financial management category. But two agencies, NASA and the Small Business Administration, lost ground, dropping from yellow to red in the financial management category after receiving poor audits in fiscal 2001. Everson cautioned observers from reading too much into the ratings, as agencies were merely shifting from writing to implementing plans in this last cycle. "Some of this will take multiple years," he said. OMB Director Mitch Daniels also pointed to the fact that President Bush chose the five worst areas of government to target for his management agenda. "He didn't pick anything that was susceptible to a quick kill," said Daniels. "We set the goals, tried to be as clear as possible about them … but the how, we expect them to figure out." Daniels remained resolute about the possibility of repercussions at agencies that take their time getting to green. "There will be economic repercussions," he stressed. "Programs doing well will be reinforced. Programs that are failing will see their resources shifted somewhere else."
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