Biden's DDM tees up strategic planning agenda

The Biden administration wants to capitalize on agencies' current strategic planning process to move major administration priorities like climate, pandemic recovery, economic recovery and equity.

OMB is also working on the President's Management Agenda, which Dustin Brown, deputy assistant director for management at the Office of Management and Budget, said at a recent event will advance equity and climate change issues.
Eisenhower Executive Office Building (Image: Wikimedia Commons)

The Biden administration is looking to capitalize on the strategic planning process required for agencies to advance its top goals, a top official said during an event hosted by the Partnership for Public Service and Grant Thorton Public Sector on Wednesday to release a new report on strategic planning.

Strategic plans with goals and performance measures for fiscal years 2022 through 2026 are due from agencies in February 2022. The plans are required by the Government Performance and Results Act of 1993, which was updated in 2010.

Agencies also required by the Office of Management and Budget to align those goals with the Biden administration's top priorities like equity, pandemic response, economic recovery and climate.

"This is an incredible opportunity," said Jason Miller, the Biden administration's Deputy Director for Management at OMB. "It is truly the first time at the beginning of a new administration that every agency is building out a four year strategic plan simultaneously with seriousness, purpose and ongoing engagement from agency leadership. That is a huge opportunity to make sure that what we are doing, what we are putting in place increases the success rate of all of our agency missions that creates integrated overall vision consistent with the administration's priorities."

The process involves clearly defining success on both a macro and micro level, he said.

As agencies develop these plans, OMB has a role to plan in process management, integration and supporting agencies government-wide. That includes ensuring that individual agencies' plans are "creating a set of goals consistent with the administration's priorities," he said.

The administration plans on having around 100 "agency priority goals," Miller said, meant to produce results within two years.

So far, a consistent theme around advancing equity in agency processes and programs has emerged already, Miller said. This aligns with a January executive order meant to reorient federal agencies to better serve traditionally underserved communities.

Agencies are going about pursuing this goal in their strategic planning in different ways, Miller said, offering up "integrating it as a horizontal effort across multiple strategic goals and strategic objectives" and "building new capacity or embedding questions within agency-specific learning agendas," as examples.

OMB is also trying to create a community of practice around equity to advance those efforts, Miller said.

The strategic planning process can be a useful tool for agencies, said Janis Coughlin-Piester, deputy office head at the Office of Budget in Finance and Award Management at the National Science Foundation.

NSF has been focused on broadening equity and diversity in science and engineering for years already. Now the administration has similar goals on equity and diversity in the workforce.

"We have this focus from our leadership, we have the focus from the administration, and we have a set of tools that we can use to help focus our staff energy around that. And really the big challenge for NSF is setting this course to make the demographics of science and engineering the community itself more in line with the demographics of the nation," she said. "These are tools that, if used to our advantage, can really help us advance."

At the Department of Agriculture, the agency has included people on teams implementing Biden executive orders like the one centered on equity into the strategic planning process as a way to align goals, said Karen Peck, the agency's staff chief of Departmental Operations and Performance.

OMB also has its eye on Capitol Hill, where legislators are currently working on one bipartisan infrastructure bill and another backed by Democrats.

"Obviously there's major legislation being considered on the Hill, that if passed could result in changes to strategic goals and strategic objectives, so we're going to need to be dynamic," Miller said.