APG strategic objectives OMB
Federal agencies continue to leverage best practices from across sectors to drive organizational performance improvement via the Federal Performance Management Framework. The approach rests on several proven management practices grounded in the Government Performance and Results Act (GPRA) Modernization Act of 2010 and the Office of Management and Budget’s (OMB) implementation guidance in OMB Circular A-11, Part 6, the Federal Performance Framework for Improving Program and Service Delivery. Throughout 2019, OMB has continued to work in conjunction with federal agency leadership to focus on clear goals and leverage data-driven management reviews that incorporate a broad range of qualitative and quantitative inputs to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of agency operations. Agencies continue to build upon and ingrain these proven management practices in the operations of the Federal Government. This post details some of the highlights of progress throughout 2019 and looks ahead to further leverage these practices in 2020.
Expanding Impact through Strategic Plans and Strategic Reviews
Annual Strategic Review meetings provide an opportunity for agencies and OMB to discuss progress implementing the agency strategic plan using recent evidence, including evaluation and performance data, while incorporating an analysis of strategic and programmatic risks. They help ensure budget and management policy alignment by facilitating a discussion between OMB and agency senior leadership on strategic decisions and priorities according to a timeline that corresponds to development of the President’s budget and agency strategic planning.
It is through the annual internal Strategic Review process that OMB also works with agencies to determine which strategic objectives have demonstrated ‘Noteworthy Progress’ or require ‘Focused Improvement’ relative to other strategic objectives, implementing a requirement of the GPRA Modernization Act. These relative assessments of progress for an agency’s strategic objectives require analysis across multiple perspectives and sources of evidence, both qualitative and quantitative. They also require agency leadership to apply judgment when determining relative levels of progress and appropriate follow-up actions for improving longer-term outcomes and impacts.
During the 2019 Strategic Review meetings, OMB officials engaged senior leadership of the major federal agencies to discuss management successes, challenges, and risks identified from the 300+ strategic objectives and outcomes articulated in Agency Strategic Plans. They then identified course corrections where needed. Across these 300+ strategic objectives, major federal agencies identified 45 as making ‘Noteworthy Progress’ and 43 as a ‘Focus Area for Improvement’ to channel performance improvement efforts related to program execution moving forward. Strategic objective categorizations are often driven by a plurality of factors, such as: budget, legislative authorities, and administrative rules or authorities; administrative management factors such as human capital and IT; and management or operational processes contingent on inter-governmental relationships or partnerships. Strategic objective categorizations resulting from the 2019 Strategic Reviews are available on Performance.gov, as well as on individual agency pages. Detailed performance information and comprehensive summaries of progress of agency goals and objectives are available in each agency’s Annual Performance Report.
In addition to helping agencies identify appropriate follow-up actions, the Strategic Reviews also help identify government-wide risks and challenges which need to be addressed. For example, during the 2019 reviews a majority of agencies identified hiring top talent as one of the most significant risks to achieving their mission. In response, the Office of Personnel Management in coordination with OMB has taken a number of steps to address this challenge, including issuing a September 13, 2019 policy memorandum providing guidance to agencies on currently available options that agencies can use immediately to improve outcomes in federal hiring.
Moreover, federal agencies continue to mature both the quality and utility of their strategic objective assessments to decision-making as well as the presentation of their analyses. Adopting a best practice from the private sector, the 2019 Strategic Reviews introduced management dashboards designed to enhance the visualization, display, and communication of key performance indicators and analyses conducted by agencies.
Looking ahead, the 2020 Strategic Reviews will continue to mature these analyses while also aligning implementation of critical management components of the GPRA Modernization Act, the Foundations for Evidence-Based Policymaking Act, and the President’s Management Agenda’s (PMA) Government Effectiveness Advanced Research (GEAR) Center initiative to build a government-wide Management Learning Agenda.
Integrating Enterprise Risk Management to Address Programmatic and Operational Risks to Achieving Goals
Enterprise Risk Management (ERM) promotes risk-informed decision making that allows resources to be prioritized and allocated based on risk, fosters a more risk-aware culture within agencies, and supports agency strategic planning and performance improvement efforts. ERM encourages agencies to target their limited resources to activities more likely to produce the greatest improvement in program performance. Three years since ERM requirements were first established in OMB Circular A-123, agencies continue to develop and mature in their ERM programs and approaches. Agencies continue to apply risk-based approaches to identify, assess, respond, mitigate, prepare, and manage risks to achieving their mission goals and objectives. Increasing maturity among agency ERM programs will support decision making across the PMA and multiple Cross-Agency Priority (CAP) Goals.
In 2019, OMB worked in conjunction with federal agencies to establish an Executive Steering Committee for ERM, aligning strategies to facilitate greater capacity and maturity among ERM programs government-wide. This coalition of ERM practitioners seeks to identify and share best practices, seek opportunities to assess maturity of ERM programs, promote ERM integration within mission and mission support functions, and facilitate constructive coordination with oversight entities.
Focusing on Clear Goals and Data-driven Performance Reviews
Quarterly data-driven performance reviews continued in 2019 for the FYs 2018-2019 Agency Priority Goal (APG) cycle as well as for Cross-Agency Priority (CAP) Goals, which are leveraged to coordinate and publicly track the implementation efforts and management priorities of the President’s Management Agenda (PMA). Final progress updates for the FYs 2018-2019 APGs demonstrated that a majority of the 85 APGs established in 2018 met or exceeded the performance targets set, or achieved improved performance above the baseline. Several examples of APG performance results achieved are highlighted below, illustrating the accomplishments of agency goal teams to advance mission, service, and stewardship outcomes on behalf of the American people. A ‘management-focused’ chapter in the Budget of the United States Government for Fiscal Year 2021 highlights the efforts of agencies and CAP Goal teams to drive the management priorities of the PMA in Delivering a More Responsive, Agile, and Efficient Government.
- Violent Crime Reduction. The Department of Justice’s (DOJ) Violent Crime Reduction priority goal sought to combat violent crime by increasing the number of gang/violent crime enterprise dismantlements (non‐CPOT); favorably resolving 90% of federal violent crime cases; and increasing the percent of National Integrated Ballistic Information Network (NIBIN) “hits/leads” (the linkage between two or more separate crime scene investigations) by 40%. The DOJ surpassed its two-year performance targets while also demonstrating progress towards implementing the agency’s Project Safe Neighborhoods program. Across the three performance measures against which success was measured, the DOJ exceeded each. Reducing violent crime remains a top priority for the Department, with a violent crime reduction priority goal continuing for the FY 2020-2021 APG cycle. Other accomplishments include:
- The Federal Bureau of Investigation exceeded its two-year target of increasing the dismantlement of non-CPOT gang/criminal enterprises by 30% over the baseline of 150.
- The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives exceeded its two-year target to increase the number of NIBIN “hits/leads” – based upon comparisons of 3D digital ballistic images of spent shell casings recovered from crime scenes and from crime gun test-fires – by 55,000, achieving a total of 74,123 “hits/leads.”
- DOJ exceeded its two-year target of favorably resolving at least 90% of its federal violent crime defendants’ cases by successfully resolving 92% of its 30,484 federal violent crime defendant prosecutions throughout FY 2018 – 2019.
- Water Conservation and Supply Enhancement. The Department of Interior sought to increase the available water supply in the Western States through conservation-related programs to help provide a more sustainable and secure water supply while reducing the impact of drought for the benefit of the public and the economy. Through agency efforts, reclamation exceeded the FY 2019 Water Conservation Goal of 155,732 by 14,348 acre-feet, with a total of 170,080 acre-feet of water conservation capacity.
- Increase Federal Contracts to Disadvantaged Small Businesses. The Small Business Administration (SBA) sought to increase the number of 8(a)-certified firms receiving federal contracts. The SBA exceeded this APG with 3,871 8(a) firms receiving a federal contract through the fourth quarter of fiscal year 2019 (ending September 30).
With the release of the President’s 2021 Budget, agencies have set nearly 90 new APGs covering FYs 2020-2021, reflecting the performance commitments to be achieved throughout the next two years in priority policy and management areas. Reporting on agency progress towards achieving these priority goals will continue quarterly on Performance.gov.
Strengthening the Policy Framework of Management Processes and Routines to Improve the Organizational Performance of Federal Agencies
Finally, the Administration strengthened the Performance Framework as part of the 2019 revisions to OMB Circular A-11, Part 6. The revisions incorporated those parts of the Foundations for Evidence-Based Policymaking Act of 2018 focused on evidence-building activities, further maturing the Federal Performance Framework as a management system which includes the organizational management functions agency leadership must prioritize to improve program outcomes and the performance of the Federal Government.
Building a government that works smarter, better, and more efficiently to deliver results for the American people is the purpose of the Federal Performance Framework. Leaders across government are leveraging this framework to improve mission outcomes, service to the people, and stewardship of taxpayer dollars, and to achieve the objectives of the President’s Management Agenda. The management policies, practices, and routines highlighted here will be further strengthened over the course of 2020, with progress and results shared here quarterly on Performance.gov.