New: Progress Reports on Agency Priority Goals

OMB releases first quarterly progress reports for the 2014-2015 round of agency priority goals.

The Obama Administration in 2009 directed agencies to identify a small handful of priorities that they would commit to achieving in a two-year timeframe. This initiative was embedded into the GPRA Modernization Act of 2010. Agencies are required to identify priority goals and report on their progress quarterly. In late June, agency progress reports were posted on the governmentwide website.

When the President’s FY 2015 budget was released in March of this year, agencies refreshed their priority goals for the FY 2014-2015 time period. There are 89 agency priority goals for the 23 major departments and agencies. Based on my review, 33 are new and the rest are extensions or revisions of goals previously set in the 2012-2013 round of goal-setting. In all cases, agencies have named individuals who serve as the goal leaders.

New goals – with associated progress indicators — include, for example:

Department of Defense Priority Goal: Transition to Veterans

By September 30, 2015 DoD will improve the career readiness of Service Members’ transitioning to Veteran status by:

· ensuring at least 85% of eligible Service Members complete new required transition activities prior to separation: pre-separation counseling, a Department of Labor (DoL) employment workshop, and Veterans Affairs’ benefits briefings;

· verifying that at least 85% of separating service members meet newly established Career Readiness Standards prior to separation;

· achieving and maintaining 85% or better positive responses from Service Members assessing the effectiveness of the Department’s transition assistance training curriculum;

· accelerating the transition of recovering Service Members into Veteran status by reducing the disability evaluation processing time; and

· supporting the seamless transition of recovering Service Members by sharing active recovery plans with the VA.

Goal Leader: Virginia S. Penrod, Chief of Staff, Office of the Under Secretary of Defense (Personnel and Readiness)

Social Security Administration Priority Goal: Expand the use of video hearings. We will deliver a world-class customer experience by expanding the use of video technology to hold hearings.

By September 30, 2015, increase the percentage of hearings we hold by video from 26 percent in FY 2013 to 30 percent.

Goal Leader: Jim Borland, Assistant Deputy Commissioner, Office of Disability Adjudication and Review

Each agency priority goal includes an action plan that includes measurable indicators of progress and milestones. Progress reviews are conducted quarterly by agency chief operating officers (generally the deputy secretary or equivalent).

Progress Review Updates. The new (or refreshed) goals publicly posted back in March 2014 underwent their first progress reviews at the end of the quarter (March 31st) and the updates posted on in late June provide an initial baseline of data for assessing progress in coming reviews. Agencies will undertake their next quarterly reviews beginning July 1st and those progress reports will be posted publicly after they are completed, generally 6-8 weeks after the end of the quarter.

For example, in the case of the Defense priority goal for veterans, its progress report to date says that they’ve developed a “military lifecycle implementation plan” that will be rolled out to all military services and combined 13 separate directives and developed an expedited disability process manual to help speed veterans’ claims once military service members are discharged and file a claim for veterans benefits.

And for the Social Security priority goal for video hearings, its progress report notes that it has created a new “quarterly video use report” to track progress, that staff in regional office sites are certified to use video equipment, and that the administrative review judges have “held 27.2% of hearings by video during this fiscal year, while for the month of March alone we held 28.3% of hearings by video.”

New Link for a Quick Overview of Agency Priority Goals. The Government Accountability Office critiqued the website last year, including observations about its poor navigation. While it has improved, it is still difficult to move back and forth between priority goals, so I’ve created a separate landing page that lists the goals, by agency.

I’ve also numbered them, for easier reference, and this list makes for easy scrolling, but beware that if agencies add or delete goals, this will affect the numbering, and if agencies revise the text of the goals from when they were originally posted, or who the goal leaders are. This separate landing page for Agency Priority Goals is static, not dynamic.

IBM Center for The Business of Government

Graphic credit: Courtesy of renjith krishnan via FreeDigitalPhotos

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