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Nick Wakeman

Is OMB wrong to set so many performance goals for agencies?

I read with interest Jason Miller’s Federal News Radio story about the performance goals the Office of Management and Budget is setting out for agencies to achieve.

I won’t argue with the intent of the goals. It’s good to have goals, and I agree with the need for agencies to be evaluated on their performance.

But 100 specific performance goals? Fifteen cross-agency priority goals?

Maybe I’m feeling cynical today, but aren’t we overthinking it? Does OMB need to be that prescriptive?

I remember when Vivek Kundra came out with the 25-point plan. I heard comments that there were too many even then. Why not focus on four or five?

To me, 100 performance goals shifts the focus away from what everyone says they want – better outcomes – and puts it on the process. Such a large number just makes everything seem out of reach.

People will lose focus and nothing will be accomplished because it all seems so complicated.

What the government needs is simplification. Only four goals or guiding principles are needed when taking an action or making a decision:

1. Will it lower my costs?

2. Will it improve the delivery on my mission (in measurable terms)?

3. Does it lower costs and improve delivery?

4. Does it improve the security of my operations?

If you can answer yes to any one of those questions, you probably should move forward. If you can answer yes to more than one, then you definitely should move forward.

If you are contemplating an action, and you don’t know the answers to any of those four questions, then you'd better stop.

For contractors, the flip side should hold true: Does your product, service, solutions, etc. deliver lower cost, improve the mission or increase security?

If you can answer those in the affirmative, then you know you are on the right track.

The message needs to be simple and straight forward; otherwise, it is too easy to ignore.

Posted by Nick Wakeman on Mar 19, 2014 at 9:39 AM


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