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Monday, August 14, 2006

Agencies still in the red on financial performance

"Of all the categories under which the Executive Branch Management Scorecard analyzes agencies, financial performance continues to be the one in which agencies consistently score the worst. Although many agencies have shown noticeable improvements in many areas since the score card's inception in fiscal 2001, failing financial grades are a constant.

The low scores remain partly because it's the only category on the score card that is independently verified, some analysts say. The Government Accountability Office is set to publish a report in September that lawmakers hope will shed more light on how the Office of Management and Budget arrives at the scores for the other categories.

In the third quarter of fiscal 2006, 16 of 26 departments and agencies earned red, the lowest grade. Moreover, 12 of those 16 agencies have always gotten red scores in financial performance.

There have been a few positive scores. The National Science Foundation has always scored a green, the highest rating, in financial performance. The Social Security Administration has earned yellows or greens. And after seven straight red ratings, the Education Department jumped to green in the first quarter of fiscal 2003 and has stayed there ever since.

No scores for financial performance changed between the second and third quarters of this year, according to the score card. In case-by-case progress assessments, OMB gave 24 agencies green scores because, in its view, the financial performance objectives were proceeding according to plan. The Homeland Security Department and NASA received yellow ratings, meaning that OMB noticed some slippage in establishing financial performance objectives. The progress assessment is a different measure from the status grade.

A green score means an agency is implementing its initiatives as planned; it is the highest rating an agency can receive. Yellow shows a need for adjustments to achieve the objectives in a timely manner, and red means an initiative is in serious jeopardy. The score card evaluates agencies in five areas on the President’s Management Agenda: workforce, competitive sourcing, financial performance, e-government, and budget and performance integration."

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