Holiday Wishes for the Government Performance Management Community

By: Jon Desenberg
Jon Desenberg is policy director at The Performance Institute.

To the dedicated performance and budgeting professionals in state and local government around the country: Remember, what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. The budget headwinds and the demands of reporting for the Recovery Act have made this the toughest in the 20 years I’ve been working in government. However, wherever I went, from Alaska to Florida and many stops in between I saw that the transformational work in business intelligence, performance indicators, strategy maps and improved strategic plans have paid off. Better decisions were made, even when we all wished that we didn’t have to make those tough decisions. From the new reporting scorecard in Fulton County, GA, to the county and city stat systems in Dade County, Baltimore, Philadelphia, D.C. and elsewhere, we saw that a focus on performance truly becomes valuable as times get tough. You’re true leaders in performance and accountability.
To our esteemed senators and congressman, the time is now—please embrace performance and results-based management practices, before its too late. Kudos to Sen. Mark Warner for creating the new Senate Task Force on Government Performance, but where are your colleagues? At a recent hearing, your colleagues were missing for all but a few minutes. Not making time ask a few questions about improved results indicates a lack of inclination to begin thinking about improved performance and perhaps actually doing something about it. Hundreds of thousands of federal employees look to Congress for leadership on spending wisely, setting the right goals, and matching funding accordingly. You’ve continued to disappoint them and the American taxpayer this year.

To our president and his appointees, your careful and serious thinking about performance management has been much appreciated. Now, however, is the time to do the very difficult job of moving plans into action. For all the problems and mistakes in our previous President’s Management Agenda, speed of execution was never one of them. While some agencies are going to move in the right direction on their own, some very important ones will not, at least not fast enough. We appreciate your careful thinking and we now need some strong direction.

To AGA, thank you. AGA’s focus on performance at their annual conference and the efforts they’ve taken to move hundreds of local governments in the right direction on performance has been pitch perfect and spot on. We in the performance community greatly appreciate it.

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