Agencies improve on Bush management scorecard

Six agencies improved their performance over the last quarter of fiscal 2002 in at least one of the five key areas identified in the president's management agenda, according to the Office of Management and Budget.

The six graduated from red to yellow in one of the five categories included in the president's management agenda: human capital management, competitive sourcing, financial management, electronic government initiatives and linking performance to budgets. The Defense Department earned a yellow light in human capital management, the Environmental Protection Agency improved its financial management, and the Energy Department enhanced its e-government initiatives. NASA, the Labor Department and Veterans Affairs Department improved in the area of integrating budgets and performance results.

All of the 26 agencies included in the fourth quarter scorecard retained red lights for their competitive sourcing initiatives.

The Bush administration devised the grading system, where a red light indicates failure to implement an objective, yellow indicates mixed results and green shows success, in 2001, to measure how well agencies are doing in five major management areas. In February, the administration released its first mid-year report, in which 109 agencies received red lights, 19 earned yellow lights and only two earned green lights.

More green lights appeared on the "progress" section of the scorecard, which indicates whether agencies are taking the right steps to improve management in the five areas. For their efforts at improvement, almost all of the 26 agencies listed on received green lights in at least one of the categories.

Despite the improvement at the end of fiscal 2002, green lights are still hard to come by, OMB said.

Of 26 agencies highlighted in the latest update, the National Science Foundation is the only one with a green light in any category. OMB awarded NSF green lights for financial management and e-government projects. An October 2002 Performance Institute report also recognized NSF for its progress in e-government, praising the agency for achieving cost efficiencies through two Internet projects that allowed staff to process 19 percent more grant proposals and reduce costs by 33 percent.

But in a statement about the most recent ratings released, OMB Deputy Director for Management Mark Everson provided a glimmer of hope for agencies unsatisfied with their fiscal 2002 ratings. Agencies still have room to demonstrate better performance before the "most important scorecard yet" is published as part of the president's fiscal 2004 budget proposal, Everson said.

OMB will update agencies' scorecards this month, Everson said, so it is important that they make substantial progress in the next few weeks.

"We have entered that important stage of implementation where our success or failure will be evident not just by looking at the scorecard, but also by what concrete steps we have taken to improvement management in the executive branch," Everson said.

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