Agencies end fiscal 2008 with higher management marks

Scores improve in making services more efficient and measuring program performance.

The Bush administration has released its traffic-light-style management score card for the last quarter of fiscal 2008, with agencies making the biggest strides in the categories of commercial services management and performance improvement.

Comment on this article in The Forum.Four agencies moved up a notch on commercial services management, known as the

Competitive Sourcing Initiative until last spring, when the Office of Management and Budget expanded it to include business improvement techniques other than public-private job competitions. The State and Transportation departments and the Army Corps of Engineers progressed from a yellow light, indicating "mixed results," to green, marking "success," while the Veterans Affairs Department went from a red light, signaling an "unsatisfactory" performance, to yellow.

Three agencies ended fiscal 2008 with better grades in performance improvement, which tracks efforts to measure whether programs are effective and use that information to inform budget decisions. The Health and Human Services Department and VA moved from yellow to green in that area, while the Homeland Security Department jumped to yellow.

There was also movement in the e-government arena, but that was more of a mixed bag, with two agencies improving and two regressing. The Homeland Security and Interior departments went up a notch to yellow, while the Energy Department fell to yellow and the Housing and Urban Development Department slid to red.

The rest of the score card showed few changes, though the U.S. Agency for International Development moved to a green light in human capital and OMB, which produces the score card, achieved the highest grade in financial management.

The new scores came on the eve of the presidential election. It is unclear whether the next president will continue the five main initiatives of the President's Management Agenda. Republican nominee John McCain and Democratic contender Barack Obama both have said they intend to review federal programs and weed out those that aren't working, but neither has made commitments in areas such as competitive sourcing.

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