Agencies set 92 priority goals for final years of Obama administration

The Office of Management and Budget released a set of 92 agency-specific priority goals for the final year of the Obama administration — 40 percent of which are new.

Senior managers leading the charge behind those goals also have a new, common meeting ground to collaborate. The Performance Improvement Council, together with OMB, is launching the Leaders Delivery Network.

A select group of 25 people working on agency priority goals will meet roughly every other month to talk about the new ideas and challenges they face when implementing their strategic plans. Those managers will be responsible for ingraining those goals into their agencies’ missions.

Shelley Metzenbaum, former associate director for performance and personnel management at OMB, now president of the Volcker Alliance, said the new leadership network gives agency managers a much-needed solution to cross-agency management challenges.

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“How do you manage across agencies? How do you actually get problem solving management when multiple agencies need to step forward to take on an objective?” she asked. “This Leadership Delivery Network is a very innovative, exciting approach to that, especially since it also really strengthens the people who have been chosen [to] mature their skills, so they can continue to be career leaders around the federal government.”

The last Leadership Delivery Network meeting is tentatively scheduled for November 2016.

This year, agencies will designate a career deputy goal leader to help its deputy goal leader oversee and implement their priorities, Lisa Danzig, associate director for personnel and performance at OMB, told Federal News Radio in April.

It’s also the first time agencies published their goals in October at the start of the fiscal year, rather than in February with the release of the President’s budget.

This also is the first administration in which departments are compiling with the Government Performance and Results Modernization Act of 2010, which requires agencies regularly update their progress every quarter on Performance.gov.

With a new administration in January 2017,  new priorities will come. But Metzenbaum said agencies have come along way in reporting their performance updates and progress since Congress passed and President Barack Obama signed the GPRMA 2010 into law. She said she hopes the next administration will continue to weave their goals and priorities into agency missions.

“It’s my assumption, it’s my hope and it’s certainly best business and government practice, to use goal setting as a way of clarifying,” Metzenbaum said. “What are we going to try and accomplish, where are we going to try to get breakthrough progress, and where might we let up or where might we have a shift in priorities?”

As agency managers recognize, not all of their goals and priorities will get accomplished by the end of the Obama administration, and many that were priorities for 2014 and 2015 remain goals in 2016 and 2017.

For example, the Defense Department listed auditability as one of its five priorities for the next two years. The Pentagon has previously struggled to meet its audit ready deadlines, and it said in April it won’t likely meet the 2017 deadline, either. But Metzenbaum said setting the goal the first place, speaks volumes to an agency’s workforce.

“It’s not a checklist of activities you need to do, but it’s how do we actually get government to manage to these outcomes that you can’t fully control but you need to keep driving people to think in innovative ways to say, how can we do better?,” she said. “Why are we having problems? What are the root causes? How do we attack them so we can constantly do better?”

Agencies indicate cyber, customer service as new priorities

Agencies designated several new goals for the next two fiscal years.

Most notably, the Office of Personnel Management added cybersecurity monitoring as one of its major priorities for 2016-17.

OPM hopes 50 percent of federal users will use Personal Identity Verification (PIV) authentication for its services by the end of fiscal 2016 — and 100 percent of its users by the end of fiscal 2017, according to the agency’s statement on Performance.gov.

It also wants 95 percent of OPM assets to be visible on the Continuous Diagnostics and Mitigation dashboard by the end of fiscal 2016.

By the end of the second quarter in fiscal 2016, OPM said it plans to “have acquired, implemented and refined four CDM controls including vulnerability management, secure configuration management, hardware asset management and software asset management.”

Perhaps unsurprisingly, the Homeland Security Department indicated it wants to improve federal network security as one of its new goals in 2016-17.

By the end of fiscal 2017, DHS said it will deliver two phases of continuous diagnostics and mitigation tools to all participating agencies.

The Justice Department is also adding cybersecurity as a new goal. By the end of 2017, DoJ said it will demolish 1,000 cyber threat actors and resolve 90 percent of security and criminal cyber cases.

The Social Security Administration also has indicated its interest in improving the customer service experience. It wants to boost the number of online transactions by 25 million each year. SSA is also setting higher goals for customer satisfaction — a new priority for the agency this year.  It’s setting target goals for its online services at an average of 84.5 points in 2016 and an average of least 85 points in 2017.

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