OMB may open purse to help program reviews

Following on the heels of the fiscal 2011 review requirements, officials are offering money now as an incentive for more evaluations.

The Office of Management and Budget may open its purse to help agencies that need money to evaluate their programs, according to a new memo.

OMB officials have a limited amount of money to give away, and it’s willing to grant extra money to agencies that can prove they based their fiscal 2012 budget priorities on a rigorous review of their programs, according to the July 29 memo from OMB Director Peter Orszag.

Overall, officials want a detailed picture of what an agency is already doing to review its programs and how it has budgeted money in its fiscal 2012 proposal to make sure its programs are working. They also want to know the agency’s ability to carry out evaluations and any impediments to doing the work, whether in statute or regulations, the memo states.


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The deadline for the extra funding request, which is all voluntary, is Sept. 27, according to the memo. (Find the request template here.)

President Barack Obama has said he wants to cut the deficit in half as a share of the economy by 2013, the end of his term in the White House. Orszag wrote that program evaluations are more important than ever because of Obama’s goal and future government spending.

“Ultimately, evaluations can help the administration and Congress determine how to spend taxpayer dollars effectively and efficiently by investing taxpayers’ resources in what works,” he wrote.

However, agencies have struggled to appraise the programs in the past because many don’t have offices to do the in-depth, intensive reviews.

“As a consequence, some programs have persisted year after year without adequate evidence that they work,” he wrote.

OMB officials also plan to put information online about all federal evaluations aimed at reviews that are planned, underway or just completed. They also want to improve coordination between agencies to save resources. Agencies should share information beyond what OMB has said in the past about evaluations and also consult with OMB’s Resource Management Offices to optimize their evaluations plans, the memo states.

About the Author

Matthew Weigelt is a freelance journalist who writes about acquisition and procurement.

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