OMB Shares How Agencies Will Actually Reach Goals in Areas Like Climate Change

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The 15 cross-agency priority goals the White House laid out in its March budget submission are now enhanced with action plans, set jointly by the Office of Management and Budget and designated agency heads.

In a Thursday blog post, deputy budget director for management Beth Cobert announced the posting of the detailed plans on Performance.gov, saying they “are focused on implementation and include strategies, specific milestones, timelines, and indicators to improve cross-agency coordination and measure success in key areas.”

Eight of the 15 cross-agency priority goals, she noted, are linked to the president’s management agenda. They’re labeled customer service, smarter information technology delivery, strategic sourcing, shared services, benchmarking and improvement of mission-support operations, open data, laboratory-to-market initiatives and “people and culture” workforce improvements.

An example is the President’s Climate Action Plan, which stated a goal for the government to consume 20 percent of its electricity from renewable sources by 2020. Led by Michael Boots, acting chair of the Council on Environmental Quality, and Dan Tangherlini, administrator of the General Services Administration, it enhances targets and tasks 25 agencies with sharpening their “focus on achieving the goals through existing mechanisms and programs.” The climate action plan provides charts and a progress report on key indicators such as greenhouse gas emissions, percentage of operations using renewable energy, and awards of performance-based contracts (two trend up, one down).

The customer service action plan is co-led by Lisa Danzig, OMB’s associate director for personnel and performance, and acting Social Security Commissioner Carolyn Colvin. It relies on initiatives to streamline transactions, develop standards for high-impact services and use of technology to improve the customer experience. The plan will gauge key indicators such as citizen satisfaction with services across the government and the existence of feedback mechanisms at agencies that deal with the public.

The administration’s action plans drew praise for their transparency from Jitinder Kohli, a performance specialist once with the British government now a director of Deloitte Consulting LLP. “They focus on focus on quite complex issues that have dogged the federal government and that bring together a united and concerted effort across the government,” he told Government Executive.

Especially notable, Kohli said, are the priority goals of reducing homelessness among veterans and curbing duplication in education programs in science, technology, engineering and math. “Agencies are respecting the goals and the concept of a priority to work across existing silos, which often has a transformative impact,” he said.

On Capitol Hill, he added, where the focus has long been on program appropriations, the shift to goals is “a bit of a culture change, to focus on outcomes rather than inputs.” In the long term, Kohli said, the use of goals and metrics required by the 2010 Government Performance and Results Modernization Act will be bipartisan, though the parties will differ on the specific priority goals.

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