April Showers? The Federal Performance Agenda

The big news for many was the announcement last week that Shelley Metzenbaum, who is the Office of Management and Budget official spearheading the Obama Administration’s performance management initiatives on a day-to-day basis, will be leaving to return home to Boston.  “She arrived with a plan and gave us a set of priorities,” notes Jeff Zients, who serves as President Obama’s chief performance officer.

America's Got Talent

Coast Guard Admiral Thad Allen was superb at handling big, complex challenges that reach across agency boundaries.  He led the evacuation of lower Manhattan during 9/11.  He took over the Katrina rescue operations after they floundered.  He led the U.S. response to the Haiti earthquake, and the Gulf Coast BP Oil Spill.

Before Allen retired, I asked him “Where does the government find the next one hundred Thad Allens?”  He didn’t have a good answer.  But answering that question becomes more critical as the government finds itself increasingly facing cross-agency challenges.

Reinventing Innovation

Sometimes we get caught up in buzzwords of the day:  Total Quality Management, Lean Six Sigma, Agile, Business Process Reengineering, or Reinventing Government.  But the bottom line in each of these types of management improvement initiatives is:  how do we create a culture of innovation?

What is “innovation?”  There are plenty of different definitions, but one I’ve found to be practical is: “New ideas, or current thinking applied in fundamentally different ways, resulting in significant change in operating models, business processes, or products and services.” 

Time Is Money

Last week, President Obama signed a memo directing agencies to modernize their construction permitting and review processes in order to: “advance the goal of cutting aggregate timelines for major infrastructure projects in half, while also improving outcomes for communities and the environment.”  Based on pilots and best practices developed over the past y

Where Are the Low-Priority Programs?

What ever became of the new statutory provision requiring agencies to “identify low-priority program activities?”

New Thinking in Accountability

Recent legislation imposes new accountability requirements in the form of more reporting, for example, on spending on conferences; and pending legislation would require even more details about spending, across the board.

The Physics of Federal Programs

Defining Federal Programs Isn’t Simple

There is more than one way to define what constitutes a federal “program,” and it is not unlike trying to define molecules, atoms, and sub-atomic particles.

Creating an Evidence-Based Government Creating an Evidence-Based Government

Policymakers are fixated on short-term budget austerity measures such as furloughs, pay freezes, and conference and travel spending. However, there is a small, but growing effort to take a longer, more strategic look at how to manage austerity by finding what works and targeting dollars there instead of to programs that cannot demonstrate effectiveness.

Four Evidence-Based Initiatives in the Federal Government

Within OMB, there is an active effort to catalyze agencies to develop and undertake a series of evidence and evaluation initiatives in ways that they can learn from each other and so they can quickly leverage promising practices.

Half Empty or Half Full?

A recent GAO report on the executive branch’s approach to new requirements in the Government Performance and Results Act recommends that “OMB improve the implementation of the act.” But a sub-theme in the report describes how agencies are actually building a long-term, solid foundation for a performance-driven government.

 

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Senior Fellow
IBM Center for The Business of Government
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Mr. Kamensky is a Senior Fellow with the IBM Center for The Business of Government and an Associate Partner with IBM's Global Business Services.

During 24 years of public service, he had a significant role in helping pioneer the federal government's performance and results orientation. Mr. Kamensky is passionate about helping transform government to be more results-oriented, performance-based, customer-driven, and collaborative in nature.

Prior to joining the IBM Center, he served for eight years as deputy director of Vice President Gore's National Partnership for Reinventing Government. Before that, he worked at the Government Accountability Office where he played a key role in the development and passage of the Government Performance and Results Act.

Since joining the IBM Center, he has co-edited six books and writes and speaks extensively on performance management and government reform.  Current areas of emphasis include transparency, collaboration, and citizen engagement.  He also blogs about management challenges in government.

Mr. Kamensky is a fellow of the National Academy of Public Administration and received a Masters in Public Affairs from the Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs, in Austin, Texas. He can be reached at: john.kamensky@us.ibm.com

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