Wednesday, July 7, 2010
OMB chief performance officer Jeff Zients has periodically said he wants to create a “performance management framework” for the federal government. Some are asking where is the framework? Others are asking do we really need a framework?

OMB last month released a memo on its next steps on improving agency performance.  Rather than defining a government-wide, all-encompassing framework, it focuses on defining a framework for agency “high priority performance goals” and tracking their progress.  Interestingly, at about the same time, a coalition of state and local groups released a different vision of how to improve performance, but with the same intent as OMB’s – how to move from a system focused on measurement and reporting to once focused on management and improving. 


The National Performance Management Advisory Commission released “A Performance Management Framework for State and Local Government,” culminating a two-year effort.  Sponsoring organizations include the Council of State Governments, the International City/County Management Association, the NationalCenter for State Courts, the National League of Cities, and others.


Their framework describes seven performance management principles and how to incorporate them into governmental processes and decision-making:


  • Ensure a results focus permeates strategies, processes, organizational culture, and decisions.
  • Ensure information, measures, goals, priorities, and activities are relevant.
  • Information collected should be easy to access, use, and understand.
  • Goals, programs, activities, and resources should be aligned around priorities and desired results
  • Decisions and processes should be driven by timely, meaningful, and accurate data.
  • Performance practices should be sustainable over time, and across political leaders.
  • The performance management framework should transform the organization, its management, and its policy decision-making process from a focus on process and inputs, to a focus on organization-wide results.

While these seven principles seem fairly intuitive and simple, they are not.  The majority of the report is on how to implement them.  The most interesting part is a series of case studies of states and localities that have incorporated these principles into how they work.  These initiatives include:


These are all worth browsing because they are inspiring (at least to us performance geeks).


But back to OMB. . . . It says it wants to create a “performance portal” dashboard for the federal government.  Canada has created a “planning and performance gateway.”  It is based, in part, on its Management Accountability Framework, which seems to be a variation of former president Bush’s management scorecard. 


It’ll be interesting to see how the US version compares, especially since the Canadian version seems to focus at two levels:  broad, cross-government outcomes and agency-by-agency performance reports.


Will the US version be more like our states and localities, or more like the framework used by the Canadians?