Biden to reinstate accountability measures stripped by Trump

The Biden administration plans to reinstate government accountability measures that were stripped during the final days of the Trump administration.

A source familiar with the plans told The Hill the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) is preparing to revamp the good governance provision in the budgeting process that requires agencies to set goals and meet them in order to get funding.

“This is about making sure we are making solid decisions that are not just based in political rhetoric alone — that there are numbers and data behind it,” the source said.

ADVERTISEMENT

“A commitment to good government should not be partisan.”

The Hill first reported in December that the Trump administration was mulling changes to Circular A-11, a thousand-page document federal agencies use when they compile their annual budget requests. 

The key provision targeted by the Trump administration requires agencies to justify their funding requests by demonstrating they are making progress on their goals — something experts feared could hamstring the Biden administration if not quickly reversed.

“All of this is embedded in here because it represents the priorities the administration is trying to accomplish, and of course the budget is one of the principal tools that they have to get stuff done,” Robert Shea, an associate director at OMB during the George W. Bush administration who is now a principal at consulting firm Grant Thornton LLP, previously told The Hill.

“If performance measures are pulled out of A-11, the White House has lost a lot of leverage in getting agencies to take that threat seriously,” he said.

The Trump administration ultimately spiked the provision on Christmas Eve, with then-OMB acting Director Russell Vought arguing the measures were being removed, in part, due to a lack of interest from the public.

ADVERTISEMENT

“The thousands of pages of performance data generated by agencies and posted on performance.gov each year attract little interest,” Vought wrote, calling the effort one of many to “reduce the burden and expense of low-value government work [that] have been a hallmark of this administration.”

“We have consistently sought to streamline or eliminate bureaucratic processes that do not lead to impactful change or measurable efficiencies.” 

The move comes as Biden’s OMB team says they are conducting a full analysis of the various actions taken under the Trump administration.

"We continue to assess the full extent of the damage from the previous administration's policies, actions and rhetoric, and are supporting and collaborating with [the Office of Personnel Management] to identify the best strategies to reverse these impacts and rebuild the federal workforce," Pam Coleman, associate director for performance management at OMB, said at an event earlier this month.

The Hill has reached out to OMB for further comment.