Agencies’ grades fall on e-gov section of OMB score card

Several federal agencies saw a drop last quarter in their grades on the e-government portion of the Bush administration's traffic-light-style management score card.

Four agencies lost ground in e-government on the latest score card, with one -- the Smithsonian Institution -- moving down two notches from a green light for "success" to a red, which translates to "unsatisfactory."

The grades, released Tuesday, cover the five major categories of the President's Management Agenda and several specialized initiatives such as property management. They reflect agencies' status as of March 31, the end of the second quarter of fiscal 2007.

The other three agencies that did worse in e-government for the second quarter were the Office of Management and Budget, the Office of Personnel Management, and the Small Business Administration. All three received red lights.

Two agencies -- the Health and Human Services and Homeland Security departments -- moved up in e-government from red to yellow, indicating "mixed results," making it the most volatile of the five main categories graded. Grades in the e-gov category have fluctuated for more than a year.

In a statement on the score card results, OMB attributed the e-government downgrades to problems with agencies' use of "enterprise architecture" blueprints to boost efficiency and move to the next generation of the Internet, called Internet Protocol Version 6. Agencies that came up short in this area have plans to improve their performance this quarter, according to OMB.

The administration's statement emphasized that overall, grades have improved substantially. "Federal agencies have significantly greater ability to be effective today than they did in 2001, when they began working on the PMA," said Clay Johnson, deputy director for management at OMB.

Three agencies -- the Housing and Urban Development Department, OPM, and the U.S. Agency for International Development -- moved up a rung to green lights in financial management. And two -- the Environmental Protection Agency and Veterans Affairs Department -- improved to green and yellow respectively, in integrating information on program performance with budget decisions.

The area of human capital management had no movement, continuing a streak of few or no changes. The Education and Treasury departments dropped to yellow lights in competitive sourcing, an initiative to let private sector companies bid on work deemed commercial in nature.

OMB said that in the next quarter, agencies will be setting goals for 2008. "Having the ability to be effective is not enough," Johnson stated. "Those scores must translate into real results, and agencies must demonstrate that what they are doing is making government more effective."

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