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Monday, January 07, 2008

Bush’s legacy: Why 2008 is a make-or-break year

As the deputy director for management at the Office of Management and Budget, Clay Johnson is probably most responsible for the imprint on government President Bush will leave next year.

Asked to sum up Bush’s legacy as he enters his final lap, Johnson puts it in a word: accountability.

“I think there is more accountability — formal accountability — for performance than there has been before.”

Steps forward
Despite the setbacks, there have been key management successes in the last seven years, many of which got little attention:

Financial management. The number of agencies with clean financial audits increased from 17 to 19 out of 24, while the number of material weaknesses in those audits fell from 62 to 39. Financial audits now are turned around in 45 days from the close of the year, instead of the six months it used to take.

But even in those areas where significant inroads were made, much work remains. Agencies continue to face challenges with several key aspects of IT management, including implementing major systems modernization projects, protecting data from security breaches and being able to share information between and among agencies, Walker said.

And while agencies are turning around their year-end financial statements in record time, Walker said they focus too much attention simply on getting clean opinions. Sound financial management means being able to link cost data with program performance information so managers can make more informed decisions, he said.

“I think we need to redefine success in financial management to move away from clean opinions. Those should be the result of having a sound financial management system,” Walker said.

-Tim Kauffman, FederalTimes.com


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