It's not all about turning green

Despite Hill push-back, White House claims PMA progress

Last year, the president asked what it means if an agency gets to green. This time, we told him we need to make sure agencies work better.' Clay Johnson, OMB

Rick Steele

The focus on the President's Management Agenda has shifted. No longer is the Office of Management and Budget trying to ensure agencies shift their color schemes from red to green on PMA scorecards ' the central point is institutionalizing the disciplines of the PMA for more effective government, said Clay Johnson, OMB's deputy director for management.

And nowhere is this more evident that in the e-government area of the PMA.

In the latest report from the President's Management Council on the five initiatives, agencies said 84 percent of all IT systems are certified and accredited. That is up from 26 percent in 2001. But this is down from a high of 85 percent in 2005, according to OMB's report on e-government, and still off from the administration's long-standing goal of 90 percent.

The report also pointed out that 40 percent of the agencies' projects are within 10 percent of their cost, schedule and performance goals. This is up from 28 percent last year, but below the goal of 50 percent for 2006.

The council also found that 60 percent of the agencies can quantify how the results of an IT investment exceeded the costs.

The PMC presented these and other results to President Bush last week at their meeting on the PMA.

'Last year, the president asked what it means if an agency gets to green,' Johnson said. 'This time, we told him we need to make sure agencies work better, and our focus and real goal is more effective government. We want to leave government better than we found it, is how he describes it.'

The report found that this year, 73 percent of the programs are focusing on achieving goals, up from 46 percent in 2003.

'[I]t's important to set clear goals and to set priorities for the dollars we spend,' Bush said in a speech to a small pool of reporters. 'And once a goal is set, a goal that everyone can understand, it's important to make sure we measure to determine whether or not we're achieving the results.'

Even with the latest push to show results from the PMA, the administration is finding rough going on Capitol Hill. Faced with funding-bill restrictions on e-government, competitive sourcing and even the Performance Assessment Ratings Tool, the White House is trying to find a way to show the fruits of their management agenda.

'We get a lot of push-back,' Johnson said. 'But the fact of the matter is we get it funded every year. It ought to be smoother than it is and it shouldn't require as many last-minute Hail Marys as it does. We understand it is an issue and we are strategizing ways to do it better.'

One strategy is to send a lot of information to lawmakers. Besides the latest report, OMB sent a fact sheet to the Hill earlier this month, and has ongoing meetings as well.

But Johnson believes that regardless of whether the Hill supports e-government or other pieces of the PMA, the goal still is to change the government.

'We have to make sure the performance of the agency is so much better that the employees will never let it go backwards,' Johnson said. 'I know this sounds idealistic.'

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