OMB releases final version of Performance Reference Model

The model defines four measurement areas

  • Mission and business results: For the outcomes of the Government Performance and Results Act strategic-planning process

  • Customer results: For the quality, accessibility and timeliness of services agencies provide

  • Processes and activities: For the outcomes of IT initiatives in terms of finances, productivity, security, privacy and innovation

  • Technology: For the costs and savings, quality, efficiency, standardization, reliability and effectiveness of IT projects themselves

The first version of the Performance Reference Model for the Federal Enterprise Architecture gives agencies a high-level prototype for tying IT investments to agency goals and processes.

The long-awaited performance framework, which the Office of Management and Budget released this month, brings the concepts of several assessments, such as value-chain analysis, and adapts them for use by agencies.

OMB tried to take the best parts of several conceptual management models and incorporate them into the PRM, an administration official said. The resulting model has a line-of-sight approach showing the cause-and-effect relationship between enabling technology, direct effects of agency activities and results measured from a customer perspective.

The performance model took a long time to come to fruition because it's the only one of the Federal Enterprise Architecture models that doesn't directly correlate with private-sector measures, said John A. Weiler, executive director of the Interoperability Clearinghouse of Alexandria, Va.

Industry uses such performance metrics as profit and market share, but measuring the impact of government projects is harder to quantify, Weiler said.

That was a 'particularly sticky issue' in the development of the performance framework, Weiler said. It led to a focus on the value- chain model of analyzing an agency's customers or project participants for the value that they bring to the agency.

An August draft

OMB in early June released a draft version of the performance model to agencies for comment. In early August, OMB released a 99 percent complete draft so that officials could use it to prepare fiscal 2005 budget submissions.

The current version of the model outlines four measurement categories: mission and business results, customer results, processes and activities, and technology. Ultimately, the Performance Reference Model will cover two additional categories: human capital and other fixed assets. But those two measurement areas were not mandated in the performance framework for the fiscal 2005 budget, the OMB official said.

Each category contains subcategories of generic measurement indicators that agencies can tailor to their missions and IT projects.

The PRM document describes how the performance framework meshes with other management requirements. For example, the model can 'help articulate the contribution of proposed IT initiatives to improved program performance and existing agency strategic goals' under GPRA, the document states.

The Performance Reference Model is the fourth framework published by OMB's Federal Enterprise Architecture Program Management Office. Before leaving his chief technology officer post at OMB this month for the private sector, Norm Lorentz said that a working draft of the fifth framework, the Data Reference Model, would go out for agency comment in early October.

The current OMB reference models are 'much better than the FEAF [Federal Enterprise Architecture Framework] was,' Weiler said.

The two volumes that make up the Performance Reference Model release document are online at


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