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Recommitting to Good Government

Today, as part of the Administration’s commitment to effective government for all Americans, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) released new guidance for agencies on developing goals and tracking progress to improve the delivery of government services in key priority areas. The guidance fully restores the Federal Government’s performance framework for improving program and service delivery found in Part 6 of OMB Circular A-11, which was eliminated under the prior Administration, and provides new direction for setting goals.

Agencies were clear, and unanimous, in their desire to have the earlier framework reinstated. Grounded in proven management practices of high-performing organizations both private and public, the framework emphasizes a focus on implementation by engaging senior leaders through ambitious and data-driven goal setting, regular reviews of progress, and public reporting of results. It also provides agencies with flexibilities in setting their goals and reestablishes tools to improve customer experience that were constrained by the previous Administration.

As Federal agencies currently undergo a new round of priority goal setting, the OMB guidance released today encourages agencies to focus on the significant challenges the country faces, from continuing to meet the health, welfare, and economic challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic to advancing equity and addressing climate change. This year, we are encouraging agencies to work across organizational boundaries in setting goals that better align to the outcome and the person we are serving, rather than how programs are structured. We encourage new political appointees to partner with career leadership, including the workforce outside the Washington, D.C. area, to refine their goals and objectives.

Government performance priorities across multiple administrations have shown significant improvements when the related agency priority goals have received sustained leadership attention with clear definitions of success, collaboration across organizational boundaries, and support from the Congress. At the Department of Housing and Urban Development, veterans’ homelessness decreased by 47 percent between 2010 and 2016 following focused attention by the department on a joint agency priority goal with the Department of Veterans Affairs. After it made going paperless an agency priority in 2008, the Department of Treasury saw a 90 percent reduction in paper transactions for benefit payments within ten years. And in a span of just two years, the Department of Interior achieved a nearly 10 percent increase in water conservation and reclamation efforts in western states, similarly through focus on an agency priority goal.

Furthermore, evidence shows that the implementation of the management routines established in agencies required by the GPRA Modernization Act drives greater use of performance information in decision-making.

As agencies establish new goals over the coming year, we invite the public to follow their progress on, which will be updated quarterly with progress – whether we achieve our objectives or fall short. Through this simple process of being clear about our goals, showing the public our plans to get there, and then being transparent about our results, we aim to continue building trust with the American public.