With agencies engaged in the multi-year process of creating performance-based government, two House members have introduced a bill to import “continuous improvement” practices found in state government and private business and adopt them in Washington.
Rep. Tom Latham, R-Iowa, on July 16 unveiled the Lean and Responsive Government Act to require agencies to adopt steps to “set clear, measurable goals, analytically evaluate overly bureaucratic systems, and reduce Washington red-tape in a sustainable manner,” he said. What differs from current law is that he would tie “continuous process improvement to the annual congressional budgetary requests for each federal agency.” Each agency’s chief operating officer would implement the continuous improvement techniques and include information on their efforts in an annual report to Congress.
“Embracing this approach empowers departments and agencies,” Latham added, “to take innovative steps to reduce waste in their organizations and apply those resources to other priorities without requiring additional funds.”
Latham’s approach drew backing from Rep. Henry Cuellar, D-Texas, who introduced what became the Government Performance and Results Modernization Act signed by President Obama in 2010. Cuellar said the new bill “further raises the standard that taxpayers expect of the federal government and I will continue working with my colleagues in Congress to ensure a responsive and effective government.”
Promising to save “billions” in avoided waste and duplication, Latham noted that NASA already is using some of the continuous improvement, data-driven techniques. “Unlike any successful company or business, the federal government does not operate under an overarching strategic plan,” he said. “Instead, the government operates under hundreds of individual operating plans for each agency. The result is a vast and chaotic alphabet soup of agencies and programs that often duplicate services and sometimes compete with one another.”
The bill was referred to the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform.