OMB offers advice on attaining PMA nirvana

Most agencies wanted clarification on how to get to yellow, State's Bruce Morrison says.

Dan Gross

To help agencies make the grade'so to speak'on the President's Management Agenda, the Office of Management and Budget soon will begin negotiating with them to set strategies for progress.

Agencies submitted draft plans this month responding to a memo that laid out guidance on how to boost their ratings on the PMA scorecards that OMB issues quarterly.

Clay Johnson, President Bush's nominee to become OMB's new deputy director for management, sent the memo to agencies detailing the criteria for competitive sourcing, and performance and budget integration initiatives.

Mark Forman, OMB's administrator for e-government and IT, said there were no new criteria in the e-government group, one of five PMA groupings.

'The exercise for me was to ask the agencies where we think we will be by next summer,' Forman said. 'We want the agencies to understand how their enterprise architecture works and tell us what major modernization initiatives will be deployed by next summer.'

OMB is tracking 27 agencies as they work to meet Bush administration management goals on human capital, competitive sourcing, financial management, e-government, and budget and performance integration. Using a color-grading scheme, OMB issues two grades for each of the agenda's five management categories. One score rates overall status; the second rates progress on implementing specific programs. A green rating means an agency has met all of OMB's requirements; yellow means it has met some criteria; and red means it has serious problems.

Most agencies needed clarification on how to get to yellow, said Bruce Morrison, acting CIO at the State Department. 'OMB was very responsive to agency concerns after undersecretaries and deputy secretaries were unclear how to earn a yellow rating,' he said.

In the plans submitted to OMB, agencies had to provide details on how they would improve their PMA efforts by July 1, 2004. OMB asked agencies to:
  • Lay out milestones for each agenda item to earn a yellow or green score

  • Describe the ultimate goals for the components of each initiative

  • Set goals for each agenda item without regard to unknowns, such as legislative mandates or funding

  • Create specific descriptions of what is needed to achieve yellow or green for each initiative.

Agencies will meet with OMB to settle on final strategies, said Susan Marshall, a senior policy adviser to General Services Administration administrator Stephen Perry.

'Agencies were complaining to OMB that there was no way to get to yellow, it was either red or green,' said Marshall, who manages GSA's work on agenda items. 'If we had the criteria last quarter, we may have gotten to yellow then.'

GSA was one of four agencies to move from yellow to green in progress on e-government in the latest scorecard, which OMB released earlier this month. The scorecard covered PMA work between January and March.

The Health and Human Services Department, State Department and Agency for International Development were the other agencies to improve their e-government ratings.

The Transportation Department and the Smithsonian Institution were the only agencies to drop a grade, to yellow from green.

The National Science Foundation is the only agency that has reached green on e-government; 11 agencies are at yellow; and 14 are at red.

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