erashov/Shutterstock.com

Is Your Agency Set Up to Drive Performance?

The right culture is key to cutting red tape and improving efficiency.

“I will act on my own to slash bureaucracy and streamline the permitting process for key projects, so we can get more construction workers on the job as fast as possible." — President Obama, 2014 State of the Union address

The familiar refrain to cut government red tape has become almost cliché. In a town rancorous with divisive rhetoric, agreement on this point is nearly universal. And there’s the rub: How exactly do we accomplish that?

To be fair, much progress has indeed been made. President Carter’s deregulation efforts in the 1970s were amplified by Reaganomics. President Clinton’s National Partnership for Reinventing Government attempted to root out waste during the 1990s while George W. Bush targeted pork barrel spending at the onset of the 21st century. President Obama has continued the crusade against red tape and government waste by naming the nation’s first federal chief performance officer, Jeffrey Zients, in 2009. These efforts have all produced a steady evolution toward improved quality and performance. Government is substantially more transparent and accountable than ever before.

Yet for all the successes of the past four decades, there is much work to be done. Zients, since tapped to be director of the National Economic Council, is indeed a change agent and visionary of the highest caliber. Under his leadership, the federal government has begun the process of establishing agency goals and developing robust systems for performance measurement. But a recent survey of federal employees by the Office of Personnel Management demonstrates that a true results-oriented performance culture remains beyond the grasp of most agencies.

OPM’s 2013 Human Capital Assessment and Accountability Framework analysis shows a 51 percent positive rating for results-oriented performance culture. Moreover, only 19 percent of federal workers believe that pay raises at their agency are tied to performance. Clearly significant challenges remain in implementing the administration’s goal of creating a government that is more efficient, effective, innovative and responsive.

What can senior leaders do to promote a results-oriented performance culture within their organizations? There is ubiquitous agreement on the conditions necessary to create such a culture: employee engagement, strong performance measures throughout the organization and management commitment to continual improvement. These concepts are simple to understand but difficult to implement.

How can these conditions be created to promote a culture of results-oriented performance? A new report from ASQ (American Society for Quality) may provide clues.

The report, “ASQ Global State of Quality Research,” provides a baseline of fundamental quality and continuous improvement practices from around the world. The study involved 1,991 respondents in 22 countries. The research found that only 59 percent of organizations that use a distributed approach to quality management use measures to drive performance, compared with 81 percent for organizations that manage quality through a functional central committee. Only 39 percent of organizations with a distributed leadership model use quality measures as a component of a performance compensation system. The study seems to demonstrate that a results-oriented performance culture is diluted when accountability and responsibility are distributed across the organization.

At first blush this observation appears counterintuitive, but it’s not when you really consider the application. If a central governing body within an agency is given the top priority to improve performance measures, then that responsibility becomes the primary focus. When the responsibility to implement quality measures is distributed across the organization it becomes just one more item on a to-do list for overworked front-line managers. The research seems to suggest that centralizing quality and performance improvement efforts can promote a true results-oriented performance culture in most organizations.

Federal leaders who are looking to improve their Results-Oriented Performance Culture index scores should look at their management model. Is the primary responsibility for performance management centralized or distributed across the agency? Is there a central office or committee within the agency that manages quality efforts and is directly responsible for the success of the program? If not, then it’s likely measures are not being used by front-line managers and employees to drive performance.

Until measures are used across all levels of the agency to empower employees, the establishment of a true results-oriented performance culture will continue to be just beyond our reach. And that dreadful red tape we’ve been so desperately trying to cut for more than 40 years will continue to bedevil us.

John Baranzelli is chair-elect of the ASQ Government Division and author of Making Government Great Again.

Correction: This story has been updated to clarify that the percentages showing use of performance measures compare organizations with a centralized quality management function to those with a distributed approach. 

http://www.shutterstock.com/pic-167053142/stock-photo-dart-in-bulls-eye-of-dartboard.html?src=qnXgW7rCzhupxWhx9fWJsw-2-14

(Image via erashov/Shutterstock.com)

NEXT STORY: #Budgetday Twitter Buzz

X
This website uses cookies to enhance user experience and to analyze performance and traffic on our website. We also share information about your use of our site with our social media, advertising and analytics partners. Learn More / Do Not Sell My Personal Information
Accept Cookies
X
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Do Not Sell My Personal Information

When you visit our website, we store cookies on your browser to collect information. The information collected might relate to you, your preferences or your device, and is mostly used to make the site work as you expect it to and to provide a more personalized web experience. However, you can choose not to allow certain types of cookies, which may impact your experience of the site and the services we are able to offer. Click on the different category headings to find out more and change our default settings according to your preference. You cannot opt-out of our First Party Strictly Necessary Cookies as they are deployed in order to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting the cookie banner and remembering your settings, to log into your account, to redirect you when you log out, etc.). For more information about the First and Third Party Cookies used please follow this link.

Allow All Cookies

Manage Consent Preferences

Strictly Necessary Cookies - Always Active

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data, Targeting & Social Media Cookies

Under the California Consumer Privacy Act, you have the right to opt-out of the sale of your personal information to third parties. These cookies collect information for analytics and to personalize your experience with targeted ads. You may exercise your right to opt out of the sale of personal information by using this toggle switch. If you opt out we will not be able to offer you personalised ads and will not hand over your personal information to any third parties. Additionally, you may contact our legal department for further clarification about your rights as a California consumer by using this Exercise My Rights link

If you have enabled privacy controls on your browser (such as a plugin), we have to take that as a valid request to opt-out. Therefore we would not be able to track your activity through the web. This may affect our ability to personalize ads according to your preferences.

Targeting cookies may be set through our site by our advertising partners. They may be used by those companies to build a profile of your interests and show you relevant adverts on other sites. They do not store directly personal information, but are based on uniquely identifying your browser and internet device. If you do not allow these cookies, you will experience less targeted advertising.

Social media cookies are set by a range of social media services that we have added to the site to enable you to share our content with your friends and networks. They are capable of tracking your browser across other sites and building up a profile of your interests. This may impact the content and messages you see on other websites you visit. If you do not allow these cookies you may not be able to use or see these sharing tools.

If you want to opt out of all of our lead reports and lists, please submit a privacy request at our Do Not Sell page.

Save Settings
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Cookie List

A cookie is a small piece of data (text file) that a website – when visited by a user – asks your browser to store on your device in order to remember information about you, such as your language preference or login information. Those cookies are set by us and called first-party cookies. We also use third-party cookies – which are cookies from a domain different than the domain of the website you are visiting – for our advertising and marketing efforts. More specifically, we use cookies and other tracking technologies for the following purposes:

Strictly Necessary Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Functional Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Performance Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Social Media Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Targeting Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.