The Office of Management and Budget restored data-driven goal setting requirements for agencies, with an increased emphasis on addressing health and economic challenges caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
An OMB memo issued Wednesday reinstated the government’s performance improvement and service delivery framework, which expects senior leaders at agencies to set ambitious goals, hold regular progress reviews and publicly report the results. The memo also brings back customer experience tools.
The Trump administration eliminated the accountability measures in December, citing a lack of public interest in the thousands of pages of performance data posted to Performance.gov annually. But many officials saw the move as an attempt to railroad the initial success of the incoming Biden administration.
“Agencies were clear, and unanimous, in their desire to have the earlier framework reinstated,” wrote Pam Coleman, associate director of performance and personnel management at OMB, in a blog on the changes. “Government performance priorities across multiple administrations have shown significant improvements when the related agency priority goals have received sustained leadership attention with clear definitions of success, collaboration across organizational boundaries and support from the Congress.”
The departments of Veterans Affairs and Housing and Urban Development set a joint agency priority goal to decrease veteran homelessness and did so by 47% between 2010 and 2016. Similarly, the Treasury Department reduced paper transactions for benefits by about 90% in 10 years, and the Department of the Interior increased water conservation and reclamation by 10% out west in two years of setting agency priority goals.
Public interest aside, Government Performance and Results Modernization Act management practices increase data-driven decision making within agencies, Coleman wrote.
Performance.gov will once again be updated quarterly with progress reports, regardless of agencies falling short of objectives.
“The removal of Part 6 from Circular No. A-11 in December 2020 threatened to disrupt strategic and performance planning across federal departments and agencies,” reads the memo. “These activities are critical to clearly defining the outcomes the Federal Government aims to achieve, using feedback from our customers to improve service delivery, and being transparent about agency results.”