Agencies to set own human capital PMA goals

By Jason Miller
Executive Editor

Agencies are setting their own goals under the human capital category of the President’s Management Agenda.

Office of Personnel Management acting director Michael Hager wrote in a letter accompanying the release of the latest PMA scorecard Nov. 3 that agencies have made significant progress around the governmentwide goals for human capital.

“Rather than require the same checkmarks from every agency, OPM now gives agencies ample space on the scorecard to identify their own outcomes and deliverables,” Hager wrote.


“[A]gencies have provided demonstrated evidence that they have the right human capital systems in place to meet the governmentwide standards for success in Human Capital Management.”

This is a big change from how the Office of Management and Budget and the initiative owners set goals over the past six years.

Traditionally, OMB and initiative owners worked together to come up with governmentwide goals, and then measured agency progress against those targets.

“Agencies are now encouraged to build on these systems to meet their own strategic priorities,” Hager wrote.

“Although OPM continues to measure agencies’ progress toward government wide standards in Strategic Human Capital Management, agencies are also identifying goals and outcomes specific to their strategic priorities. OPM is partnering with agencies to assure their human capital initiatives truly support organizational outcomes.”

Hager adds that departments must show how each goal helps meet their mission and what specific metrics are used to demonstrate results.

This is the second major change in more than six years of the PMA. OMB over the summer changed the name of competitive sourcing to commercial services management.

Four agencies improved their scores under the new category this quarter-State and Transportation departments and the Corps of Engineers earned green scores, while the Veterans Affairs Department earned a yellow grade.

The administration also issued a memo asking agencies to submit their fiscal 2008 competitive sourcing reports to OMB by Nov. 21.

OMB will take the agency reports combine them into the governmentwide account of how agencies are doing.

Interestingly, the report does not include anything from agency work under the commercial services management, which incorporates business process reengineering and high performance organizations.

“[A]gencies should not include data on business process reengineering projects undertaken pursuant to the commercial services management initiative in this report,” says Clay Johnson, OMB deputy director for management, in a memo to agencies. “However, agencies should track performance and validate results of their BPRs.”

Johnson says the PMA will remain in tact to some degree under a new president.

Speaking at a recent conference on transition, Johnson says the next administration will build on top of the PMA.

“I think the federal employees can say the following about the government — the majority of civilian employees are focusing on and increasingly being held accountable for accomplishing desired outcomes,” Johnson says. “The need for better information for people to make smart decisions is greater than ever before.”

Johnson says employees understand that their work around the PMA areas and made changes to focus on desired outcomes and costs.

“They can get better still,” he says.

“It is highly unlikely that a new administration from either party will come in a say ‘we don’t care about how spend money or we don’t care about having unqualified audit opinions…’ They will take what federal employees and build on top of it.”

In fact, Neera Tanden, the domestic policy director for Obama for America, told the Daily Debrief Oct. 30, that if president Sen. Obama would take a governmentwide reform effort to look at every program to make sure working right.

“This administration took some good steps and some limited steps,” Tanden says.

“One of the things Sen. Obama wants to ensure is agencies are looking at the impact the program have in communities they are serving. He would like to have civil servants evaluate their programs, and ensure they use evaluations to have an affective approach to accountability.”

Doug Holtz-Eakin, the senior domestic policy advisor for Senator John McCain (R-Ariz.), told the Daily Debrief Nov. 3 that human capital will be the number one management issue for the next president.

Holtz-Eakin adds that a McCain administration would focus on three management areas:

  • Hiring people of integrity and experience with expertise in managing
  • You need transparency to have effective accountability, especially in the execution of contracts and grants
  • Build into agencies the capacity to review programs that need help

On the Web:

OMB – Competitive Sourcing report memo

OMB – PMA Scorecard

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