GovExec reports that the departments of Labor, Transportation, and Veterans Administration lead the way when it comes to transparency, public benefits and leadership evidenced in their performance and accountability reports, according to a report from the Mercatus Center at George Mason University. It should be noted that the ratings refer to the quality of the reports themselves, and not the agencies’ success in meeting mission goals. While it’s easy to scoff at this (“So these departments write nice, huh?”), achieving transparency in performance reporting is no small thing. Transparency leads to accountability, and don’t we all too-often complain about a lack of that in government?
I know that I’ve found the newly-public Exhibit 300’s to be extremely enlightening. And while I and my scurrilous business development colleagues mine them for competitive and procurement information (damn us all to hell!), I’ve found them most useful for understanding the purpose, vision, and plan for various government projects. For example, NSF’s 300s for FastLane and Research.gov make it clear that the two initiatives are considered as separate at NSF, with one contributing technology to the other. Prior to the 300, I’d thought that FastLane was Research.gov, and vice versa. The fact they’re different is important because it demonstrates that NSF is setting up a new investment to be a GMLOB provider, and not just repurposing an existing system while hoping for the best.
We pay for all of these government initiatives, and we have an absolute right to understand how our tax dollars are being used, by whom, and for what purpose. Transportation, Labor, and the VA should be applauded for leading the way in delivering this information to us. What’s more, the Mercatus Center report also notes that there’s a huge gap between the top-rated agencies and the rest of the pack, so the leadership shown by DOT, DOL, and VA is doubly important.