Achieving Real Improvement in Federal Policy and Program Outcomes: The Next Frontier

October 2008 - The purpose of this paper is to address the following questions: Who should be responsible for guiding the federal government’s performance in the next Administration? How can the next President achieve real improvements in federal policy outcomes?

Overview

The purpose of this paper is to address the following questions: Who should be responsible for guiding the federal government’s performance in the next Administration? How can the next President achieve real improvements in federal policy outcomes?

Key Findings

The advice provided in this report reflects lessons captured during the authors’ discussions with diverse staff and officers both in the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) and in various agencies. Synthesizing these views and our own, we offer a set of goals and recommended strategies to improve government performance in the next Administration, including:

  • The President must set the standard and demand of his cabinet and senior officials that performance be a high priority;
  • At the highest level, priorities for program assessment should be set so that assessments focus mainly on programs important to the President’s major policy priorities;
  • Agency heads, not the OMB, must lead in improving performance, and agency executives must be held accountable for improving outcomes;
  • Gains in transparency and standards for assessing how well programs perform should be preserved and built on; and
  • The analytic and reporting burdens of the assessment process on both OMB and the agencies should be reduced and better targeted.