Executive order promotes accountability

What a great idea! Our federal government is formally committing to spend the taxpayers’ money effectively and more effectively every year.

In the past several years, federal agencies have successfully developed people, cost, investment, and program management skills necessary to be more effective. And, we’ve boosted transparency into government spending in order to hold federal managers accountable for program performance. Every federal agency makes public the outcomes each of its programs is designed to accomplish, how it is performing relative to its goals, and what it is doing to improve performance going forward. The information can be found at www.ExpectMore.gov.

Now, federal agencies are being charged by President Bush in a new executive order to use their new skills to, in fact, more assuredly, serve American citizens even better. The heads of agencies will now be held accountable for ensuring every program’s goals have:

• Clear, aggressive and outcome-oriented targets;

• Specific plans to achieve them;

• Personnel held accountable for achieving them; and

• Targets for reducing the cost of achieving them.

Because transparency is critical to accountability, the executive order formalizes the federal government’s commitment to transparency into agency and program performance. Agencies must post on the Internet regularly updated and accurate information on the performance of the agency and its programs, including a description of the successes, shortfalls, and challenges of each program and the agency’s efforts to improve the performance of the program.

That’s what this new, formal commitment to continuous improvement is all about. New management skills make greater effectiveness possible, while the extra transparency makes government leaders more accountable. This executive order helps ensure our government is results-driven, in this administration and beyond.

Johnson is the deputy director for management at the White House Office of Management and Budget.

Executive order: Improving Government program Performance

The new policy:
It is the policy of the United States federal government to spend taxpayers’ dollars effectively and more effectively each year.

What heads of agencies are required to do:
• Ensure programs have clear annual and long-term outcome-oriented goals with specific plans for achieving the goals;
• Hold agency personnel accountable for accomplishing the goals of the program;
• Set targets for improvement in program efficiency; and
• Develop agency websites that include regularly updated and accurate information on the performance of the agency and its programs that candidly characterizes the successes, shortfalls, and challenges of each program and describes the agency’s efforts to improve their performance.

What agency Performance Improvement Officers are required to do:
• Supervise the performance management activities of the agency, including development of the agency’s strategic plans, annual performance plans, and annual performance reports, as well as program goals and implementation plans; and
• Convene the agency managers to assess the performance of programs and collaborate on ways to improve the performance and efficiency of such program; and
• Assist the head of the agency in the development and use by the agency of performance information in performance appraisals and other personnel planning processes.

What the Performance Improvement Council is required to do:
• Develop the federal government’s performance management policies and requirements; and criteria for evaluation of program performance;
• Facilitate the sharing of best practices in performance management among agencies; and
• Coordinate the continuous review of the performance and management of all federal programs.