IT, workforce, customer service central to President's Management Agenda

The just-released President's Management Agenda focuses on IT modernization, reshaping the federal workforce and the reorganization of government.

DDM Margaret Weichert March 20 2018

IT modernization, reshaping the federal workforce and the reorganization of government highlight the 2018 President's Management Agenda.

While much of the document reiterates objectives laid out in previous reports, executive orders and the White House's budget proposal, the agenda, released March 20, puts together 14 cross-agency priority areas of transformation.

They include improving federal customer experience, category management, transparency for IT spending, acquisition management and security clearance reform.

To accomplish these goals, the agenda identifies three drivers of transformation: IT modernization; data, accountability and transparency; and reforms to the federal workforce.

"The business of the federal government is to serve the American people, but we can’t perform if we have outdated technology and we’re not setting up the workforce to meet the public’s expectation," Margaret Weichert, the Office of Management and Budget's deputy director for management, said at a Kansas City event. "You’ve heard administrations in the past talk about many of these same topics. We’re not inventing something wholly new. What we are doing is focusing on getting ‘er done. We’re focusing on execution."

On the IT modernization front, the administration expands the wide-ranging final Report to the President on Federal IT Modernization, which includes security improvements, modernizing citizen-facing services and cost-effective tech infrastructure.

To achieve IT modernization goals, the agenda identifies executive orders and policy initiatives, legislation, as well as implementation support — through the previously announced centers of excellence — and the central modernization fund established through the Modernizing Government Technology Act.

The PMA touts the Technology Modernization Fund, housed by the General Services Administration, as an enabler for IT modernization. That centralized fund, which is authorized for $250 million in each of fiscal years 2018 and 2019, is yet to be appropriated.

The agenda also takes aim at the federal personnel system.

"The personnel system supporting Federal employees is a relic of an earlier era that has failed to keep pace with changing workforce needs," it states, noting that reforms are necessary to adapt to 21st century challenges.

To carry out federal workforce reforms, the report states the administration "intends to partner with Congress on overhauling the statutory and regulatory rules that have, over time, created an incomprehensible and unmanageable civil service system."

The PMA reiterates the administration's goals on workforce management. Specifically, the agenda pushes reshaping and "streamlining" the workforce, making it easier to fire "poor performers" and cutting federal compensation and pension packages.

Additionally, the agenda pushes for reforms to human capital management — through changing the rewards and incentive structure for federal employees — and again proposes the $1 billion interagency workforce fund as part of the fiscal year 2018 appropriations.

Modernizing the security clearance process will also improve the government's ability to effectively onboard employees and improve trust in government, the agenda states.

The agenda also emphasizes plans to reorganize the federal government by cutting "unnecessary political positions," expanding the use of shared services, making better use of the government's purchasing power and consolidating agencies' offices.