Annual budget guidance stresses performance and priority goals

The Office of Management and Budget’s release of its annual technical guidance for agencies preparing their fiscal 2014 budgets includes new instructions on implementing the goal-setting and progress measures required under the 2010 Government Performance and Results Modernization Act.

The 800-page policy compendium titled “Circular No. A-11” also urges federal managers to consider their agency’s impact on the economy.

In an Aug. 3 memorandum to agencies heads, acting OMB Director Jeffrey Zients wrote, “your budget submission to OMB should further the president’s goals of spurring job creation and job growth and putting the [nation] on a path to fiscal sustainability. You will need to take a close look at all of your programs, and together we will have to make the hard decisions necessary to create room for the most effective investments in areas critical to economic growth and job creation.”

The document fleshes out instructions for agencies to comply with GPRA by offering a new performance framework and timetable for performance officers and others to set strategic goals, review progress and publicly report data on an accelerated basis. It also stresses pursuit of the crossagency “priority goals” discussed in President Obama’s fiscal 2013 budget released in February, detailing uniform reporting requirements for posting on Performance.gov.

And the circular provides new guidance on the ambitious effort required by GPRA to create a full inventory of federal programs -- a project sought by lawmakers that for years that has bogged down over definitional issues.

John Kamensky, a senior fellow at the IBM Center for the Business of Government, wrote in a blog that the new guidance on performance issues “is more than double the length of last year’s (82 pages). It expands on a previous OMB memo and details a multiyear, phased approach to implementing the new requirements. It does a good job of describing the integration of many ‘moving parts’ that need to come together in coming years.”

Robert Shea, a top OMB official during the George W. Bush administration and now a principal with Grant Thornton LLP, told Government Executive that the document contains “a lot of helpful instruction for agencies struggling to leverage the requirements of GPRA modernization. It lays out a good performance management architecture for agency strategic plans and performance goals and should make it easier to compare the performance across government.”

But Shea expressed concern that the implementation timeline is “less than ambitious and beyond the deadlines in the law.”

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