Rep. Latham wants to beef up agency performance requirements

Rep. Tom Latham (R-Iowa) introduced a bill requiring agencies to use continuous process improvement measures. The bipartisan "Lean and Responsive Government Act...

By Stephanie Wasko
Special to Federal News Radio

Rep. Tom Latham’s (R-Iowa) “Lean and Responsive Government Act” requires agencies to use continuous process improvement measures for better efficiency and effectiveness.

Latham, who introduced the bill July 16, said the methods require agencies to “set clear, measurable goals, analytically evaluate overly bureaucratic systems and reduce Washington red-tape in a sustainable manner,” according to a press release.

Many major corporations, as well as small businesses, commonly practice continuous process improvement methods, the bill stated, and have successfully reduced costs and improved goods and services.

In addition to the private sector, the Defense Department, along with several other agencies, has implemented similar methods, such as Lean Six Sigma. The bill also provides examples of how the requirements could be successfully implemented across the government.

“One might say the methodology is an old one, but it does work, and industry’s still using it. DoD and GSA are pushing it,” said Robert Shea, a former associate director of the Office of Management and Budget and a principal with Grant Thornton, in an email to Federal News Radio.

Latham’s “Lean and Responsive Government Act” builds on the 2010 Government Performance and Results Modernization Act (GPRMA), which required agencies to set performance goals on at least a quarterly basis among other performance related recommendations.

Rep. Henry Cuellar (D-Texas) established the GPRMA and worked to co-author the “Lean and Responsive” bill with Latham, according to a press release.

“Politically speaking, I think it’s important to note the bill’s sponsors are appropriators, and the principal author, Latham, is retiring and so needs a legacy bill,” Shea said. “For those reasons, the bill has more legs than you might think.”

The bill gives responsibility for the continuous process improvement to the agency’s chief operating officer, aided by the performance improvement officer. If the bill passes, the director of OMB will appoint a member to the Performance Improvement Council to be a continuous process improvement adviser.

OMB also would establish a center of excellence for continuous process improvement, which would provide tips and training for improvement strategies.

“Once federal departments and agencies universally implement these methods, it will result in improved performance and a better utilization of American tax dollars. Embracing this approach empowers departments and agencies to take innovative steps to reduce waste in their organizations and apply those resources to other priorities without requiring additional funds,” the press release stated.

The Government Accountability Office joins Latham and Cuellar in looking to improve agency performance efficiency and effectiveness. GAO released Tuesday its evaluation of GPRMA implementation required in the bill. They recommended agencies appoint deputy goal leaders and develop ways of keeping them responsible for meeting agency priority goals.

Stephanie Wasko is an intern with Federal News Radio.


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