Performance metrics to drive LOB choices

Mary Mosquera at FCW has an interesting report about OMB’s push to drive adoption of Financial Management Line of Business providers by gathering and providing performance metrics. Trisha Broadbelt, deputy program manager of the Financial Management LOB at the Interior Department’s National Business Center in Denver, is quoted: 

“By adding new metrics for performance, it will encourage agencies to take a closer look at shared-service providers and give them an objective view of the services that they can obtain” from a shared-service provider, Broadbelt said. 

The metrics will be gathered on all FM systems, in areas such as infrastructure availability, core financial systems availability, report production time, and average response time for user access requests. Many of these metrics were developed and chosen by Chief Financial Officers Council’s Performance Measures Working Group, and published in the Financial Services Assessment Guide.

It appears to me that this is an excellent strategy: agree on good measures across government, gather the data, and then assess the results. Sounds simple but it’s very difficult to execute that in an environment with so many different players and competing agendas…not to mention rules and regulations that often prevent common sense having any say at all! 

My hope would be that this practice would be adopted by other LOB’s (<cough>grants</cough>) and used to drive their adoption, too. The challenge in the case of grants is agreeing on consistent performance measures across government. “Aha!” you shriek, “You dolt! The metrics proposed for FMLOB are broadly applicable. So what gives?” Well, my little chickie, the FMLOB’s metrics have a built-in assumption: the various providers are all capable of providing the same functionality. I can see that working for HRLOB or even BFELOB, to some extent, but that ain’t the case for GMLOB. 

I’ll pause now while we all lament the lack of a JFMIP-like construct for grants. 

And therein lies the rub. Without a standard set of functionality, these broadly-applicable metrics are useless. I can provide whatever functionality I’d like within those metrics (response time, availability, etc.) but that doesn’t mean that my system will help your grants management problem. 

So we come back to the age-old assertion that standards are the first step to consolidating and streamlining the grants enterprise. But in the meantime, this new focus on performance-metrics-as-decision-making-tools in government is highly encouraging.