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Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Agencies must create performance snapshots

All major agencies must produce a two-page snapshot of their performance and financial results for fiscal 2008 to improve annual reporting, the Office of Management and Budget said in guidance released Aug. 29.

OMB also provided an online template to help agencies create the snapshots, which they must finalize by Dec. 15, the memo states.

Last year, some agencies experimented with different ways to present their Performance and Accountability Reports (PARs) to make their data more readable and useful to Congress and the public, said Robert Shea, associate director for administration and government performance at OMB, and Danny Werfel, deputy controller in OMB’s Office of Federal Financial Management, who wrote the memo. Agency PARs typically contain hundreds of pages and can be difficult to navigate, OMB has said.

“A three-tiered, drill-down reporting structure will allow agencies to provide information that is easily accessible to a diverse set of readers and stakeholders,” they wrote in the memo, which they sent to agencies’ program improvement officers and chief financial officers.

Under the PAR pilot program, several agencies produced a highlights section for their fiscal 2007 reports. The section summarized their performance, efforts to overcome shortcomings, key goals and how funds were spent relative to those goals, the officials said.

This year, the agencies participating in the pilot program and all major agencies must publish the two-page Budget, Performance and Financial Snapshot, which should also contain hyperlinks to more detailed agency information. The snapshots will act as executive summaries for the highlights or Citizens’ Reports, which the pilot participants must provide in January. Shea and Werfel encouraged non-participating agencies to also produce Citizens’ Reports of 25 or fewer pages. Those reports are due in January.

OMB said it plans to publish a governmentwide performance results report in January 2009.

Agencies not participating in the pilot programs must generate the comprehensive PAR by Nov. 17, which includes Agency Financial and Annual Performance reports, the memo states. Those participating in the pilot must also publish their financial reports by Nov. 17.

Because the pilot agencies incorporate their performance reports into their congressional budget justifications, they must update the reports to include fiscal 2010 performance targets, which the next president will submit in January with the fiscal 2010 budget, the OMB officials said.

- Mary Mosquera, FCW.com

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