Building a 'results environment'

OMB's Clay Johnson: 'The federal government is results oriented.'

Henrik G. de Gyor

When Clay Johnson III is asked about effective leadership, he frames his answers around two words: Clarity. Results.

The long-time lieutenant to President George Bush and former corporate executive said the administration's focus on improving performance is slowly bringing results.

Taxpayers 'need to know they are getting something for their money and, where they are not, that we are doing something about it,' Johnson, the Office of Management and Budget's deputy director for management, said this morning in a keynote address kicking off the first GCN Management Leadership Awards and Conference.

'We cannot remind ourselves enough (that we) need to be results oriented,' he said. 'If a leader can bring one thing to an organization, it is clarity.'

The latest update to a scorecard measuring agency progress on the President's Management Agenda, which rates factors spanning financial management to electronic government, showed modest improvement over the previous quarter.

Johnson acknowledged that the government needs more resources in some areas and greater efficiency in others, along with objective metrics to make better business decisions.

'In the IT world, we're managing really big projects and we don't have enough people to manage them,' he said. The CIO Council last fall conducted a survey to gauge the skill levels of federal information technology workers. The results, along with recommendations for ways to improve training, are expected by June.

Johnson told the federal managers at the Washington, D.C., conference to stay focused on results.

'The next 10 meetings you're in, ask yourself, 'Is it really, really clear who is supposed to do what, with whom and when?' ' I bet the answer is 'yes' less than half the time,' he said.

He said accountability is critical in managing projects. 'A consulting group can't be in charge,' he said. 'It has to be a person on your payroll that can be held accountable.'

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