President's agenda is taking root, OMB official says

Agencies are buying in to the President's Management Agenda, according to a senior administration official, and that means they are making more progress toward the agenda's goals.

Clay Johnson, the administration's nominee for Office of Management and Budget deputy director of management, said today that the office is pushing the agenda a lot less, while more agencies are asking for help in meeting its goals.

'Ownership is beginning to pass from OMB to the agencies,' Johnson said at a conference on federal e-government initiatives held by Federal Sources Inc. of McLean, Va., and Potomac Forum Ltd. of Potomac, Md.

To boost compliance, OMB at first combined the carrot of more funding with the stick of taking money away.

'The PMA is coming of age after a lot of unconditional love and some tough love, at times,' Johnson said, adding that the next year or two will be critical.

'Most agencies are on the verge of moving out of red on the scorecard to yellow,' he said, referring to the system the administration has used to rate agencies' progress. A green rating means an agency has met all of OMB's requirements, yellow means it has met some, and red means it has serious problems.

'The scorecard will be mostly yellow in a year,' he predicted.

As evidence of progress, Johnson noted that OMB expects 23 of 24 major agencies to have clean financial audits by the end of fiscal 2003. 'Every agency but the Defense Department is on track,' he said.

Agencies have spent the last two years planning how to improve their effectiveness at the agenda items, and 'now they are moving to implement these plans,' Johnson said. 'The key is whether we can take all the progress we've made over the last two years and connect it to tangible change in the way government functions.'


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