House chairman sends agencies back to drawing board on strategic plans

A key House lawmaker is asking that agencies and departments redo their strategic plans to ensure that the goals and objectives they include reflect those set by the Bush administration. In a letter dated March 21, Rep. Dan Burton, R-Ind., told Office of Management and Budget Director Mitchell Daniels that agencies should be required to update their strategic plans to reflect the priorities of the new administration, which include cutting management staff, expanding outsourcing efforts and advancing e-government. According to Burton, who chairs the House Government Reform Committee, modified strategic plans "will significantly improve the usefulness of the document as a management tool for agencies and as an oversight tool for Congress." Burton asked that the retooled strategic plans be submitted to Congress by September. The plans, mandated in 1993 when Congress passed the Government Performance and Results Act, detail who, what, when, where, why and how agencies intend to accomplish their missions. By law, the plans have to be revisited and updated at least every three years, so agencies can tweak their goals and set new ones if needed. The first strategic plans were completed in September 1997 and covered five years. The second batch of plans was completed in September 2000. Burton's letter follows a March 9 memo from OMB Deputy Director Sean O'Keefe, instructing agency chiefs to put up for competition at least 5 percent of the positions on their Federal Activities Inventory Reform (FAIR) Act lists by the end of fiscal 2002. FAIR Act job inventories list federal jobs that, in theory, could be contracted out. On Feb. 14 Daniels told agency heads to make their fiscal 2002 performance plans reflect the goals of the new administration. Performance plans are compiled annually and set more specific goals than those outlined in agencies' long-term strategic plans. The performance plans are due to Congress when President Bush issues a detailed version of his fiscal 2002 budget on April 3.