OMB Director Shaun Donovan

OMB Director Shaun Donovan Susan Walsh/AP

OMB Creates Inter-Agency Customer Service Council

The council will help achieve cross-agency goals, where progress has been made on open data and energy efficiency.

White House budget director Shaun Donovan on Wednesday announced the establishment of a council to coordinate agency customer service and continue progress toward cross-agency priority goals.

The new Core Federal Services Council will serve as a “governmentwide governance vehicle to improve the public’s experience with federal services, from experiences of Americans who visit a Social Security Administration office, to those who pass through a Transportation Security Administration check at the airport, check online with the Internal Revenue Service for an answer to a tax question, or reserve a campground at a National Park,” Donovan wrote. It will consist of representatives of the 28 agencies that interact directly with the public and will be led by the Office of Management and Budget.

A key part of President Obama’s management agenda for the past two years has been multi-agency pursuit of mission-based goals to “foster a government that works smarter, better and more efficiently to deliver results for the American people,” Donovan wrote in a blog post.

OMB released the first quarter update of the administration’s 15 cross-agency priority goals for fiscal 2016, highlighting upward movement in education, data transparency, mental health and energy efficiency.

“Over the past seven years there has been growing momentum for evidence-based approaches at all levels of government, as well as among nonprofits, foundations, faith-based institutions and community-based organizations,” Donovan noted. “The administration’s embrace of this approach has resulted in important gains in key priorities, from protecting individuals and communities, to modernizing infrastructure, to investing in our children, to taking care of the most vulnerable.”

Donovan highlighted four broad goals toward which agencies have demonstrated progress.

Federal efforts in renewable energy and energy efficiency advanced in December when the General Services Administration awarded a contract for the first-ever joint solar power procurement, in partnership with the Energy Department, the Environmental Protection Agency and the Forest Service. Located in California and Nevada, the project will save agencies $5 million in energy costs and help the overall government move to obtain 30 percent of its energy from the sun, wind or water by 2025.

“That’s four times the fiscal 2014 CAP goal of 7.5 percent,” OMB said. “Moreover, this project will reduce greenhouse gas emissions by approximately 40,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide, which is equivalent to taking 8,400 cars off the road for one year.” GSA also awarded a contract to install solar energy systems on rooftops of 18 federal buildings in Washington, expected to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by more than 2,400 metric tons annually.

To encourage more students to study science, technology, engineering and math, the Education Department joined with others represented on the National Science and Technology Council on two new websites aimed at undergraduate and graduate students. The sites “leverage federal assets, expertise, and partnerships to provide a single source of reliable information for both students and universities interested in federally-sponsored STEM education training and funding opportunities,” OMB wrote.

Continuing the open data movement, OMB cited strengthening mental health and suicide prevention, reporting that some 200,000 related data sets have been opened on over the past two years, generating 10 million page views in 2015 alone.

Contributors of those data sets include the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, and the departments of Health and Human Services, Veterans Affairs and Transportation, along with GSA and civil society nonprofits. The effort “helped stimulate collaboration and new research, while encouraging innovative development of data visualizations, web tools, and mobile applications,” as well as case studies and documents featuring lessons learned, OMB said.

Continuing the administration’s push toward procurement reform using category management of purchases of common goods and services, OMB reported that two new governmentwide software agreements signed in December are expected to save $4 million annually. Already $2 billion has been saved annually through such efforts as reducing 700 duplicate professional services contracts.