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Federal agencies to get red light, green light evaluations

President Bush is trading box scores for management scores—in the form of a scorecard his administration will use to rate federal agencies.

President Bush is trading box scores for management scores. The day Bush threw the opening pitch in Game 3 of the World Series, Office of Management and Budget Director Mitch Daniels sent a memo to agency leaders announcing the new "Executive Branch Management Scorecard." "The scorecard employs a simple grading system: green for success, yellow for mixed results and red for unsatisfactory," Daniels wrote in the Oct. 30 memo. OMB will present the first scorecard to Bush in early December. The scorecard will evaluate agency management as of Sept. 30 and will serve as a baseline for future scorecards. Green, yellow and red scores will come in each of the five management areas laid out in the Bush administration's management reform agenda, issued in August. The five areas are: strategic management of human capital; expanded electronic government; competitive sourcing, improved financial performance; and budget and performance integration. The scorecard will assign two sets of colors: one evaluating the agency's current status in meeting standards within each management area, the other evaluating progress toward meeting the standards. "Clearly, the Sept. 30 baseline will show a lot of poor scores for current status, reflecting the state of the government we inherited," Daniels wrote. To receive a green light in one of the five management categories, an agency needs to be able to answer "yes" to one handful of questions and "no" to another handful of questions. To get a green light in the human capital area, for example, an agency must be able to say that "no skill gaps or deficiencies exist in mission-critical occupations." To avoid getting a red light, an agency would have to be able to say that it doesn't fail to reward high performers or deal with low performers. To get a green light in the competitive sourcing area, an agency would have to complete public-private competitions or direct outsourcing on at least 50 percent of the agency's jobs that could be performed in the private sector. [Click here for a full list of the criteria.] If an agency had no major failings but doesn't meet all of OMB's standards for success, it would get a yellow light. Lisa Fairhall, chief of OMB's personnel policy branch, said the scorecard results will be shared with agencies and with the public. Fairhall said the scorecards will be discussed as part of the fiscal 2003 budget process and said OMB is committed to tracking agencies' progress in each of the management areas. "We've set the bar very high," Fairhall said Friday at the American Association for Budget and Program Analysis' fall symposium in Washington. Sandra Payne, director of strategic planning at the Office of Personnel Management, said closing all skills gaps in agencies will be a tough standard to meet, but measuring progress will help agencies focus on the Bush administration's goals. "I am a firm believer that measurement is a useful tool to drive change," Payne said. Angela Styles, administrator of the Office of Federal Procurement Policy, said at a conference sponsored by the A-76 Institute on Monday that OMB officials will present scorecard ratings to the President's Management Council every quarter. PMC members, who are typically deputy secretaries at agencies, will then work to improve agency performance on competitive sourcing and OMB's other management reforms, said Styles and David Childs, a program analyst with OFPP. "If you're an A-76 program manager, expect your deputy secretary to wonder what you're doing occasionally," Childs said at the conference.