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Friday, November 30, 2007

FEATURES Running the Light

It's been six years and 23 score cards since President George W. Bush declared a grand program of his own, a management agenda for federal agencies. Has he made good on it? Government Executive applied the administration's own stoplight ratings, and overall, the agenda came in at yellow - "mixed results" in President's Management Agenda parlance.

The administration gives its efforts, or those of the agencies, better marks. Agencies have improved from predominantly red marks at the score card's inception in August 2001 to a slight majority of green on the last quarterly ratings for fiscal 2007. "While agencies have shown great progress in implementing these requirements, there remains a lot of work to be done," said Clay Johnson, Office of Management and Budget deputy director for management, upon release of the latest score card on Nov. 5. Eight days later, Bush issued an executive order lending additional structure to his effort to improve agencies' performance. The order requires agency heads to set clear annual goals, lay out plans for achieving them, and designate "performance improvement officers" to assess and report publicly on progress. A Performance Improvement Council will be established within OMB.

To support our assessments, we provide greater detail than do the administration's quarterly evaluations. We base our human capital yellow ranking, for example, on subratings for key Bush efforts such as pay for performance, recruitment and retention, and technology, as well as a score for labor relations.

We assess broad indicators of financial performance and also evaluate the administration's lines of business initiative, in which financial management figures prominently. We treat the famous, or infamous, depending on your vantage point, Program Assessment Rating Tool within a broader examination of performance improvement and its effect on budgeting.

We judge the ratings that follow to be tough but fair. And we invite you to make your own appraisal of the President's Management Agenda online here.

- Brittany Ballenstedt, Robert Brodsky, Gautham Nagesh, Elizabeth Newell and Alyssa Rosenberg, GovExec.com

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