Agencies slow to move from red to green in OMB performance ratings

Office of Management and Budget Director Mitch Daniels said Thursday that federal agencies are making slow but steady progress in improving the performance of their programs.

Office of Management and Budget Director Mitch Daniels said Thursday that federal agencies are making slow but steady progress in improving the performance of their programs. In five key areas-human capital, competitive sourcing, electronic government, financial management and integrating performance measures into the budget process-agency heads are becoming aware that the administration is taking management seriously, Daniels said.

Nevertheless, in OMB's latest traffic light-style scorecard rating of agencies, the vast majority still were stuck on red, indicating that they had yet to achieve success in meeting the president's goals.

The scorecard will be issued as part of the Bush administration's fiscal 2004 budget proposal next week, but OMB officials released it to reporters Thursday.

Every agency received a red light for implementing the Bush administration's competitive sourcing initiative. Still, Angela Styles, OMB's head of procurement policy, said agencies are making some headway. The administration wants agencies to hold public-private competitions for 15 percent of jobs deemed commercial in nature, and Styles estimated that 7 to 10 percent of commercial jobs are either in competition or are about to be.

The National Science Foundation earned two green lights on OMB's report card, for financial management and e-government. The Bush administration has now issued three separate editions of its ratings, and NSF is still the only agency to get a green light in any specific category.

But 11 agencies showed improvement in at least one category. For instance, Defense went from a red to yellow light in both human capital and integrating budget and performance. The Energy Department went from red to yellow in three categories-human capital, financial performance and e-government. Meanwhile, both the Small Business Administration and NASA dropped to red in financial management.

The Treasury Department also again got a red light for financial management. But it is just one of two agencies, along with the Social Security Administration, to have issued financial statements 45 days after the end of the fiscal year, something all agencies will be required to do by 2004. Also, the Agriculture and Education departments received clean audits for the first time in their history, another key component of the financial management initiative.

"We are beginning to see better scores on progress as [agencies] execute their plans," said Mark Everson, OMB's deputy director for management.

For the full OMB scorecard, click here.

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