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Monday, November 13, 2006

Agencies see green in final 2006 management grades

Many agencies closed fiscal 2006 with improvements to their quarterly scores on the President's Management Agenda, with 15 grades improving across the five main initiatives and four dropping.

Notable changes on the Office of Management and Budget's traffic-light style score card ratings, released late Thursday, included a bump for the Defense Department in competitive sourcing from red, signaling unsatisfactory performance, to yellow, for mixed results. Defense has no scores that are green, for success.

Top agency officials take the quarterly management score cards seriously, and the timing for major announcements and new activities is often tied to just before -- or safely after -- scores are finalized. During the past several months, OMB officials have spoken publicly about securing the president's management legacy.

Observers have said the upcoming shift to a Democratic House and Senate could have mixed effects on the administration's management projects.

On the controversial competitive sourcing initiative, some advocates from both the industry and union sides say the initiative has already ground nearly to a halt, with agencies winning more than 80 percent of competitions. Others say the shift could lead to more anti-competition language being inserted into authorization and spending bills. Paul Denett, the new head of procurement at OMB, has said since taking the helm in August that he intends to ramp up competitive sourcing.

Efforts under the financial and human capital management initiatives have mostly been bipartisan, and are not expected to change drastically in the 110th Congress. Lawmakers have been ambivalent about the administration's initiative to rate the effectiveness of virtually every government program -- using the Program Assessment Rating Tool -- to facilitate performance-based budgeting, as well as its strategy of paying for e-government projects by pooling funds from multiple agencies. Those initiatives, critics on both sides of the aisle say, circumvent lawmakers' intentions for program design and agency appropriations.

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