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Performance.gov |So what??

Posted January 31, 2013 8:11 PM by Brandon Kline

Over the past year and a half, I’ve had the pleasure of supporting the Office of Management and Budget as one of our clients here at Ascendant. A lot has been accomplished in those 18 months, but one of the coolest achievements was finally launching Performance.gov. A website dedicated to showing the “performance side” of the federal government. In other words, it’s how the government is cutting waste, streamlining operations, and improving performance.

Admittedly, it was a long process bringing together the largest agencies in the federal government to report publically on top issues and priorities. But, it was worth it! If you follow our blog, check out Melanie’s post earlier this month to learn more about Performance.gov. Anyway, the reason I’m writing this post on essentially the same topic is because I was recently telling someone about the website and she asked me, “so what, why should I care?”  

It was an interesting question. Why should you care? My response – you should care because it tells the story of the impact that YOUR tax dollars are having on the American people. One of my favorite examples of this story is the Department of Interior’s goal of cutting violent crime in Indian communities across the country. High crime rates on some Indian reservations have been a concern for some time and DOI decided that they were going to change that. So, using performance metrics and review meetings to guide the effort, DOI developed a pilot program to reduce the violent crime of four specific communities with the highest crime rate.

The original goal was to reduce the crime rate by 5% and many considered that to be an ambitious goal at the time. To kick off the effort, Interior began collecting and analyzing crime data, identified trends, and began allocating resources to the areas of highest need. As the program progressed, regular reviews of the data became the norm, law enforcement strategies were continuously evaluated, and the communities were engaged on the front lines.

All of this effort began to pay off. By the end of 2011, the initiative had far exceeded its goal by reducing crime in these communities by a whopping 35%.  Now that is a performance story! Reducing violent crime on Indian communities by 35%! That means, through the Department of Interior, YOUR tax dollars have had a positive impact on the lives of thousands of people in Indian communities throughout the country.

So, back to the original question of - “why should I care?” I think this story is a perfect example of why you should. It shows real impact for real people. I’d like to encourage anyone reading this blog to check out Performance.gov and find similar stories of YOUR tax dollars at work.  

Performance.gov launches!

Posted January 7, 2013 10:56 AM by Melanie Burton


Success should be judged by results, and data is a powerful tool to determine results. We can't ignore facts. We can't ignore data. -President Barack Obama, July 24, 2009

The quote that says it all. In 2009 the federal government acknowledged the importance of data, of informed decision making, of tracking performance, and in 2010, the federal government did something about it. The GPRA Modernization Act of 2010 was passed. The act required federal agencies to set 2-year Agency Priority Goals, use data-driven measures to gauge success and to make this all available on a public website. Now, just two years later, the site is playing a critical role in the movement towards increased government transparency. Together, the 24 agencies have 103 Agency Priority Goals, 8 Cross Agency Priority Goals (goals that are impacted by a set of agencies such as Exports), and 6 Cross Agency Management Goals. The website represents a new zenith of information availability, transparency and accountability within the government. Performance.gov allows anyone and everyone to see what is being done to improve cybersecurity, reduce gang violence, prevent foreclosures and provide insight into a multitude of other pertinent issues. The general public can now see what their taxes are being used for- and whether they’re doing a good job or not. During a briefing, Shelley Metzenbaum, associate director for performance and personnel management of the Office of Management and Budget, told reporters “what we’ve now done is give you information about those goals: we explain why the goals were chosen, the strategies with each goal, we explain the progress we’ve made with them, and if there were problems, we explain those.” The website provides and in-depth look into what the government actually does and the continued process of self-assessment and improvement that is now underway.

Performance.gov was designed to deliver “a view of the progress underway in cutting waste, streamlining government, and improving performance.” The website’s layout allows you to browse by agency or by the following areas of focus- acquisition, financial management, human resources, technology, performance improvement, open government, sustainability and customer service. You can now access an Agency’s priority and strategic goals, their plans for accomplishing them, and even their financial reports.

This is just the beginning. Performance.gov asserts that “over time, we will add more information from agency strategy plans, performance plans and reports, and we will produce this information in formats that allow users to see trends, look at goals contributing to common themes, see programs contributing to common goals, and cross-reference other related data.”

Performance.gov sheds a light on where tax-payers’ dollars are being spent and how key issues are being solved, but this is not its only function. The site represents a new approach to problem solving by the agencies. They each honed in on specific and important goals and were able to improve the methods used to track progress. So, while there is still room for improvement (as is always the attitude in performance management- growth and learning, right?) the site is definitely a good start. 

Happy Memorial Day!

Posted May 29, 2012 12:00 AM by Brandon Kline

As we celebrate Memorial Day and honor our veterans and military families for their service and sacrifice, I would like to take the opportunity to highlight some of the great work our government is doing to support our veterans.

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Joining Forces Community Challenge Winners!

Posted April 29, 2012 1:13 PM by Brandon Kline

In a previous post, I briefly discussed my work with the Joining Forces Community Challenge, and the great privilege it was to contribute to an effort in support of our nation's veterans and military families. As a quick recap, the Joining Forces Community Challenge was launched in July 2011 by First Lady Michelle Obama and Dr. Biden in an effort to recognize and celebrate those citizens and organizations with a demonstrated, genuine, and deep desire to be of service and improve the lives of our military families. The Challenge concluded on April 11th, with a celebration at the White House to announce the five winners and one people's choice nomination.

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Measuring AND Managing for Performance

Posted February 26, 2012 7:10 PM by Brandon Kline

Recently, I watched an interview (conducted by Andy Feldman of Gov Innovator) of Bryna Sanger, the deputy provost at The New School in New York City. Throughout her career, Ms. Sanger has been researching, evaluating, and proposing best practices for performance measurement and management systems in cities around the country. Currently, she is conducting a study entitled, "Does Measuring Performance Lead to Managing for Performance," which takes a look at nearly 200 cities across the United States, and explores the link between performance measurement and performance management. The findings of her study are interesting and thought provoking, especially for those of us involved in performance management, and I wanted to take this opportunity to share an overview of them with you.

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The Joining Forces Community Challenge

Posted January 31, 2012 10:21 PM by Brandon Kline

As a consultant staffed at the Performance Improvement Council, part of the U.S. Office of Management and Budget, I have had the privilege of working many initiatives within the Federal Government. One such initiative, focused on our nation's veterans, is the Joining Forces Community Challenge. The Joining Forces Community Challenge was launched in July 2011 by the First Lady Michelle Obama and Dr. Biden in an effort to recognize and celebrate those citizens and organizations with a demonstrated, genuine, and deep desire to be of service and improve the lives of our military families.

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Can a Government Use a Balanced Scorecard?

Posted November 30, 2011 2:21 PM by Ted Jackson

Can a government use a Balanced Scorecard? Is a national government too expansive to have a strategy? Is a state or provincial government to complex? Is a city government too tactically focused? The answer to all of the above is no. A government can very effectively use the Balanced Scorecard. Many have done so with great success: Brazil, Singapore, Maryland, Washington, Durham, Charlotte to name just a few. What are they keys to success? Leadership commitment, constant communication and engagement of stakeholders are the keys to successful strategy execution with a Balanced Scorecard.

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The GPRA Modernization Act of 2010

Posted October 16, 2011 8:48 PM by Brandon Kline

The GPRA Modernization Act of 2010, an update to the Government Performance and Results Act (GPRA) of 1993, has set new standards for delivering a high-performance government. Why should you care? You should care because, as an American, you should expect that your government is effective, efficient, accountable, and consistently striving to be the best stewards possible with your tax dollars. That is exactly what the bi-partisan, GPRA Modernization Act of 2010 has set out to accomplish. A recent article on GovernmentExecutive.com highlights key objectives and details agency obligations under the GPRA Modernization Act of 2010.

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Joining Forces Community Challenge

Posted August 20, 2011 10:16 AM by Brandon Kline

Army Strong

The Few. The Proud.

Aim High ... Fly-Fight-Win

A Global Force For Good

Always Ready

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