Government Needs Goals For Success

In December Congress and the Senate passed legislation titled the Government Performance and Results Modernization Act of 2010, sponsored by Rep. Henry Cuellar (D-TX). The act requires federal agencies to:

  • Designate senior officials to serve as a chief operating and performance improvement officers. These two officials would be responsible for finding significant cost savings through the elimination of redundant programs.
  • Set high-priority goals and develop a plan to accomplish each goal.
  • Post quarterly performance updates on a single government website instead of submitting them to Congress annually.
  • Identify little-used or outdated reports required by the executive branch or Congress, with an aim toward reducing such reports by 10 percent within a year. In subsequent years, the Office of Management and Budget director will set a goal for eliminating even more reports.

Over the past 16 years I have worked for and interacted with dysfunctional government departments. At a very basic level most government departments do not have clearly understood goals that people are working towards in a united fashion. Without goals people and organizations drift aimlessly. We need more discussion at the state and local government level about setting and monitoring performance goals. When the executive branch, legislative branch, department heads and employees are on the same page as to high priority goals, things get accomplished.

Government will not move forward until elected officials collaborate on establishing three high priority goals for each department. It is important to limit department goals as too many goals cause people and departments to lose focus. In order to be successful, high priority goals should be established in the following manner:

  • In consultation with the Council/Legislature and those affected by the department’s programs.
  • Each goal should have a named owner who is a Commissioner or senior official accountable for accomplishing the goal.
  • For each goal, the lead department should set out annually how it and it intends to accomplish the goal. This information should be publicly available and should form a prominent part of each department’s budget submission.
  • Progress towards the high priority goals should be reviewed by Council/ Legislature committees and publicly reported at least every six months.

Defining goals will bring a new clarity of focus and make government more effective and efficient. We need leaders who can work with others instead of fighting about politics, patronage and egos. To move our community forward we need debates about priorities.

Do you think establishing goals which can be measured and monitored in government makes sense?

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Lori Winterfeldt

VHA already does much of this at the facility level. It makes sense, but it needs to be balanced with other factors. When we focus on statistics, figures, measurements, employees can experience unneeded stress. That being said, it’s NOT a bad idea.