Agencies discuss how to measure government performance

Each administration brings its own approach to managing operations and performance of the federal government. The emphasis in the first couple of years of the Obama administration has been on detailed measurement and public display of results, using an array of management techniques and online tools.

Putting those tools to effective use is the subject of our special Federal News Radio Discussion: Meeting Mission Goals Through Technology brought to you by General Dynamics IT.

Panelists include:

  • Herb Jackson, Acting Chief Management Officer at the Government Printing Office
  • Jim Dyer, Chief Performance Officer and Chief Financial Officer, Nuclear Regulator Commission
  • Malcolm Bertoni, Assistant Commissioner for Planning, Food and Drug Administration



Jackson: “We want our employees to answer basic questions: what is expected of them, how am I doing at meeting those requirements?… We use a two pronged approach to performance management: we manage individual performance through human capital employee quarterly performance reviews–employees are on a regular, quarterly basis feedback. We also look secondly at developing a performance platform or dashboard where we can look at KPIs and results.”


Bertoni: “Went to the actual program managers and asked them to develop some monthly program measures that they thought was important to their program. And there was a dialogue, because some of them were very experienced at doing this kind of measurement, others less so. So we made sure the measures they were developing really had some meaning and relevance to the executive leadership. As a result, when we develop these measures, we actually have been posting these results on our website in a very transparent way.”



Jackson: “We are seeing great success with the use of technology. For example, our FUTURE DIGITAL SYSTEM: we’ve been able to capture what employees are doing, and we’ve been able to capture where the agency is as it relates to sustainability and other types of issues.”

Dyer: “The Internet and the Intranet, and our ability to communicate with a wide number of stake holders, public, other licensees, internal staff also, has really been instrumental.”

Bertoni: “We’ve used some relatively low-tech approaches as we learn the (dashboard) system, and then the next phase will be moving it to a more modern database platform, and that way, we think we’ll have our requirements very clearly laid-out, and will be able to pick the right tools.”



Bertoni: “We’ve been using our FDA Track program to try to identify the specific activities and results that we’re trying to achieve…Some of the new programs certainly get a fresh look, but the other programs are always taking a continuous improvement approach to it, and always looking at how they can improve their measures.”



Jackson: “Our objective at GPO is to ensure that we’re keeping America informed, and we need to do that by empowering our employees with performance information. It’s one thing to say what the measures are, but we need to make certain that we witness how they drive the success of our promise to the American people. We want to make it personal for our employees. That they have a stake in it, that it’s not just at the executive level but it’s throughout the agency that this is being done.”

Dyer: “At the NRC, one of the things that we look at is accountability for achieving the metrics, and then the second is are we measuring the right thing?”

Bertoni: “The key innovation that the FDA has been experimenting with… FDA Track, is monthly data collection, and quarterly review. So that you can see that the performance information is actually being used by the program managers to guide decisions about adjusting resources or focusing attention in particular areas to improve performance and make sure you’re hitting those annual targets.”


Jackson: “Agencies go through that all the time, and you do have to keep with your core mission…but at the same time you have to look at it from both levels, from the executive levels and from the level of the regular employee…That’s why it’s so important that the performance measures are cascaded so that it’s not just at the top.”



Dyer: “We’re looking at upgrading our Website, and adding technology to improve the display and development of our metrics and performance assessments… Als well as improving our technology for so webstreaming a lot of our public commission meetings to get those out to more people.”

Jackson: “To continue to be transparent, throughout the agency and to our external customers, and at the same time…looking at our 5-year plan as to where we go from here, and what our next steps will be.”

Bertoni: “FDA just published today on our Website our new Strategic Priorities Draft document, so we’re looking fro comments from the public on that. And we’re also going to be looking at better measures for our foods program, regulatory science and medical products.”