Performance management reform around the corner

The Bush administration implemented the PART program, to the consternation of many, and then no-one really paid much attention to the data when it came to developing the government’s budget. Often used as a stick rather than a carrot, PART made headway in starting the process of even measuring how programs were doing but did little to curb programs that were demonstrably failing. (To be fair, the measures used were often criticized as being themselves flawed, leaving some programs in a state of performance success limbo.)

Now there’s a renewed focus on using performance data to drive budget formulation and execution, as this GovExec story about a meeting of the Senate Budget Committee Task Force describes. Exactly how this will pan out is clearly to be determined, but Jeff Zients, OMB’s chief performance officer, outlined five principles that will be followed:

  • senior leadership ownership;
  • cascading goals and measurements;
  • outcome-oriented, cross-agency goals and measurements; 
  • relentless review and accountability; and 
  • a transparent process.

In addition, the story notes that:

The cascading goals and measurements principle is designed to remedy a historic failure to communicate to component agencies, units or offices how their performance on a program resulted in the success or failure of departmentwide objectives.

Eliminating the “What does this mean to me and my agency?” question will really help put performance at the forefront of day-to-day activities inside each agency and program. And for those of us struggling to raise performance in our own organizations, this is extremely good news indeed.