Bring Back The President’s Management Agenda

The Obama Administration should consider implementing a President’s Management Agenda (PMA) in its second term. The PMA structure used during the Bush administration clearly articulated management goals in areas such as financial accountability, human resources, competitive sourcing, e.government, and budget and performance integration. The PMA scorecard provided transparency with respect to status and results and fostered competition among agencies striving to get to green. The Obama Administration in its first term has issued its direction to promote better management with many excellent goals and guidance for achievement. However, the goals/results are spread across new laws, Executive Orders, OMB Circulars and Memorandum, and various websites. A PMA structure would help connect all the management agenda items, focus attention on achievement, and provide transparency as to status and results.

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Bill Kirst

Stephen – thanks for the post. I agree there should be more of a central dashboard for reporting on progress and goals and objectives, and I applaud the open data initiative of the administration. However, I recall how much the PMA seemed to manage agency leaders versus them managing it. Do you think there is a risk that if it is brought back in its original form that leaders may worry about the need to spend most of their time reporting versus leading?

Sterling Whitehead

I think you’re referring to the void was supposed to fill. Note that I say “supposed”. It is hardly updated. Something modeled after the IT Dashboard would be very helpful.

Stephen Watson

Bill thank you for your comment. I think having agency specific targets will help keep management focus on relevant results.

John Kamensky

Steve – Actually, there are 7 cross-agency management priorities embedded in the President’s FY 2013 budget that are somewhat similar to the PMA. They respond to the new GPRA law, which requires cross-agency management priorities in specific areas, such as IT and acquisition. There isn’t a scorecard for all of them (there are for some of the elements, such as the IT dashboard), but their progress will be reported quarterly, once the Performance.Gov website is made “live,” which should happen in the next few weeks, reporting the progress of all of the agency and cross-agency priority goals as of October 1st.

The 7 cross agency management priority goals touch on: real property, improper payments, data center consolidation, cybersecurity, strategic sourcing, closing skill gaps, and sustainability. (

Stephen Watson

John, thank you for your comment. The Performance.Gov website will help increase focus and intensity on these important management initiatives.

Marc Berson

A bit of a delayed reaction, Steve, to your post in 2012 … but, I completely agree! The PMA dashboard during the Bush administration was simple, yet effective – the Red-Yellow-Green ratings on key performance metrics are very impactful in terms of compelling leaders to take action. There are certainly many great goals at, but it would be very difficult for the average citizen to see how well the agencies are meeting these goals. However, imagine if these goals “cascaded up” to 5-6 higher level goals common to every agency, and then the higher level goals were regularly monitored, rated and “dashboarded” for anyone to see a snapshot of agency performance. Then you have an effective tool for comprehensively enhancing government performance.