Huge Challenges Await the Chief Performance Officer
President-elect Barack Obama called his appointment of Nancy Killefer as the first chief performance officer "among the most important I will make." The task ahead of her -- as the nation's first CPO and as a deputy director for management at the Office of Management and Budget -- is daunting, considering the thousands of government programs and millions of employees she now has to evaluate.
So what will she do, how will she do it and what new policies will she enact? What would you do? (Leave your thoughts in the comments section below.)
Obama said cabinet secretaries and key staff members will "meet with Nancy soon after we take office – and on a regular basis thereafter – to discuss how they can run their agencies with greater efficiency, transparency and accountability."
The goal of improving government efficiency and measuring its performance has plagued presidential administrations for years. President Lyndon B. Johnson launched a "Planning, Programming, and Budgeting System," while President Richard M. Nixon tried "Management By Objective." President Jimmy Carter introduced zero-based budgeting while President Bill Clinton (through the work of Vice President Al Gore) tried to "reinvent" government.
Most recently, the Bush administration launched the Program Assessment Rating Tool (PART), "to assess and improve program performance so that the Federal government can achieve better results." The program "is far from
perfect," according to a background document on the program. "In fact, after using it for the first time, we have identified a number of shortcomings that will need to be addressed." In several conversations over the past few days, several observers agreed that PART will need a serious overhaul by the Obama administration.
In a 2006 report by McKinsey and Company called "How Can American Government Meets its Productivity Challenge?" Killefer and colleagues wrote that "nobody measures government productivity" noting that the Bureau of Labor Statistics had stopped doing so in 1994. They wrote that PART has "been unable to significantly alter the political dynamic of the budget process -- results remain a secondary factor in decision making."
They issued several recommendations:
1.) Measure productivity again, providing an ongoing, transparent indicator of progress
2.) Set an ambitious national government productivity target
3.) Create more transparency in agency and program performance
4.) Give agency managers incentives to make productivity gains
5.) Build management capability at agencies by introducing the Chief Operating Officer role
6.) Boost OMB's management function.
Some caution that the Killefer cannot create yet another system to measure performance, as previous administrations have done.
"The first thing she's going to have to do is to figure out how to measure success, because there's no agreement about that now," said Robert Tobias, director of the Institute for the Study of Public Policy Implementation at American University who has worked with Killefer on the IRS Oversight Board.
"You have to get a uniform, across-government agreement on how to measure," he suggested, a comment echoed by others.
"They're too many systems already," said Adam Hughes, director of federal fiscal policy for OMB Watch. "I think the challenge for her is to figure out what are the good aspects of the way the government currently evaluates government performance, and where are the bad parts."
Hughes also suggests Killefer "has got to include more people in the conversation about performance," since the Bush administration's development of PART "alienated too many other constituencies."
Some of Killefer's recommendations already exist in practice.
The Web site for New York City's Office of Operations allows residents to track everything the city does -- from filling potholes to responding to emergency medical calls.
“Too often in government, there is no accountability," New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg said in his statement congratulating Obama on his creation of a CPO. "In business and government, I have learned that if you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it and our success in New York has been rooted in the hard analysis of the data we collect."
Such transparency might help Killefer identify government managers and other federal employees worthy of promotion, especially since she said she hopes to work on "engaging and drawing on the talents of the federal workforce in order to deliver on our promise of a new, more efficient and effective government."
"With the right transparency, government can take immediate action and know who is leading teams, who the rising stars might be or how to get rid of the bottom performers," said Lars Dalgaard, CEO of management consulting firm SuccessFactors.
As for the creation of chief operating officers, some departments already have them. Last year's Defense Authorization Act established a chief management officer at the Defense Department and the bill implementing recommendations of the 9/11 Commission strengthened the Under Secretary for Management position at the Department of Homeland Security by also making it the deparmtent's chief management officer.
What Would You Do? What do you recommend Killefer do? Where should she start? Leave your thoughts in the comments section below.
| January 9, 2009; 12:30 PM ET
Categories: Agencies and Departments, What Would You Do?
Save & Share: Previous: Eye Opener: Jan. 9, 2008
Next: Obama Plan Focuses on Private Sector, Local Jobs
Posted by: jward52 | January 9, 2009 1:30 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: joecarter | January 11, 2009 2:08 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: davethewave1 | January 12, 2009 4:50 AM | Report abuse
Posted by: ropavo | January 12, 2009 10:51 AM | Report abuse
Posted by: upstate111 | January 12, 2009 10:52 AM | Report abuse
Posted by: larry2 | January 12, 2009 10:53 AM | Report abuse
Posted by: reginaldkcarter | January 12, 2009 11:44 AM | Report abuse
Posted by: jeromestoll | January 12, 2009 12:02 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: llafair1 | January 12, 2009 12:35 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: bigtom6156 | January 12, 2009 1:10 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: Doubtom | January 12, 2009 2:51 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: georgeduffy | January 12, 2009 4:07 PM | Report abuse
The comments to this entry are closed.