Bush commends agencies for management success

By Tanya N. Ballard

November 25, 2002

Three agencies received the federal government's top award for management excellence Monday after successfully embracing and implementing the president's management agenda.

The 55th Wing at Offutt Air Force Base in Omaha, Neb., the Federal Aviation Administration Logistics Center (FAALC) in Oklahoma City, Okla. and the National Imagery and Mapping Agency in Bethesda, Md., each received the President's Quality Award, which honors federal organizations for their exemplary records in performance and management.

"These are examples of what can happen when people put their mind to achieving excellence on behalf of the taxpayer," President Bush said during Monday's awards ceremony. "Each one identified a critical challenge, each one found solutions, each one carried them out. They made good on their promises."

The Office of Personnel Management administers the President's Quality Award program, also known as the Presidential Award for Management Excellence. Each year the award criteria are changed slightly, and, earlier this year, OPM redesigned the criteria to reflect the president's management agenda. Under the management agenda, agencies must improve operations in five key areas: human capital management, competitive sourcing, financial management, electronic government and linking performance to budgets.

The 55th Wing at Offutt Air Force Base became the Air Force's most efficient organization in 2002 after it saved $46 million in personnel costs through public-private job competitions and activity-based costing, an accounting method that provides managers with useful cost data.

Improved financial management made the Federal Aviation Administration Logistics Center a management excellence winner. The center, which serves as the repair and distribution facility for all air traffic control system parts, turned its $120 million annual budget over to its customers in fiscal 2001. Now customers must pay for the parts and services they need from the center, making them more accountable for the money they spend.

Officials at the National Imagery and Mapping Agency successfully aligned human resources plans with the agency's strategic plan, making it easier to establish recruitment goals, identify employee development requirements and determine the need for outsourcing.

The Bureau of Land Management and Environmental Protection Agency were finalists in the budget and performance integration category and Tricare, the military managed care program, was the finalist in the e-government category. There were no winners in those two categories. The Labor Department was a finalist in the strategic human capital management category.

A panel of government and industry quality management specialists chose the three winners and four runners-up in a rigorous three-phase process that included a written application review, an on-site visit and a final evaluation. This year's winners received the award because they showed clear results and long-term impact, according to one judge.

"We were looking for results, the specific results of the work, asking ourselves 'Is this a one-show deal, a quick fix or something that has long term impact?'" said Sallyanne Harper, chief financial officer for the General Accounting Office, and one of the five judges on the awards panel.

The significance of the changes at both FAALC and Offutt Air Force Base impressed judge Pete Smith, president of the Private Sector Council.

"There was a major amount of change in the way things were looked at, culture change," Smith said. "Some of the submissions were very well-written summaries of things that we felt that agencies should be doing anyway and these agencies had done these things very, very well and they should be commended for that, but they had done their jobs," he said. "These are the ones that stood out."

The 14-year-old program is modeled on the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award, which is presented annually to high-performing businesses in the private sector.

By Tanya N. Ballard

November 25, 2002