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The Five Initatives


"Getting to Green" by Making Performance Count

Every State Fair Midway offers you a chance to throw a softball into a large bushel basket - without it bouncing out. If successful, you win a huge Scooby Doo doll or, perhaps, a plastic light saber. It looks easy in theory, but it is hard in practice. So it is with budget and performance integration.

How hard can it be to (1) define measurable results, (2) monitor the progress in achieving those results, and (3) make management and resource decisions based on such progress? Well . . . pretty darn hard! Federal agencies have already spent several years trying to identify and track results under the Government Performance and Results Act (GPRA or "gip-rah", but never "jip-rah") and by all accounts the vast majority of this work is of little value. Often the goals and measures are too process oriented, too numerous, or describe what "is" not what "should be." Regardless, the links between the measures and budgets are often an afterthought. Since the advent of GPRA, agencies have produced a stack of performance reports over 15 feet high, yet the information has little or no influence on budget decisions.

It is time to breathe life into the promise of GPRA and, more importantly, make decisions that will get results for the American public.

"Getting To Green"
"OK," you say, "nice in theory, but what do I have to do?" A Task Force of agency Chief Financial Officers, led by the Department of Transportation's Donna McLean, has developed some helpful concrete guidance called "A Path to Green." It explains what steps you can take to achieve green on the "status" side of OMB's scorecard criteria. Other approaches should be vetted with the appropriate OMB branch to ensure a favorable outcome.

The "PART" And The FY 2004 Budget
In the FY 2004 budget - we are going to begin basing budget decisions more on program results. Up until now, federal agencies have never been asked to justify their existence in terms of getting program performance. Programs that are "ineffective" will need to be improved or closed out. And, we are going to challenge programs that are performing well to do even better.

Effectiveness Ratings
How do we know if a program is "effective" or "ineffective"? Most programs do not have adequate measures of performance or collect the necessary data to determine this. So for the FY 2004 process, approximately one-fifth of all federal programs will undergo an assessment using a standard set of questions. The questions comprise the Performance Assessment Rating Tool or "PART." Agency and OMB staff working together will complete the PART and the results will help inform the FY 2004 budget proposal.

Common Measures

Many federal programs attempt to achieve similar goals. It helps to be able to compare the results of these programs. Thus, we are developing common performance measures for several crosscutting, or common government-wide functions - such as low-income housing assistance, job training and employment, wildland fire management, flood mitigation, disaster insurance and health.

Making Performance Count
Dollars should go to programs that work; programs that don't work should be reformed, constrained, or face closure. The Administration has started down this road using existing data to make performance the focus of decision-making. You have the opportunity to define the measures that will guide your programs for a long time to come. And your assistance in assessing programs using the PART and producing common measures will turn what is currently only easy in theory to something that will be easy in practice.

Yours truly,

Marcus Peacock

The Five Initatives:
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