Performance.gov provides no new information

Tools

Performance.gov went live Aug. 25, aiming to fulfill a key portion of the Government Performance and Results Modernization Act of 2010 (H.R. 2142), which passed in late December 2010. The legislation requires the Office of Management and Budget to develop an overall federal government performance plan and a website to display agencies' quarterly performance data.

In its current state the website falls short of this goal--a point acknowledged in the website's FAQ section, which says the site will move to "more dynamic and useful performance reporting," when additional requirements of the modernization act become due in late 2012.

That means that for now, the site lacks the promised quarterly performance updates on priority goals; agency strategic plans, annual plans and annual reports in a standardized, open format; and a full list of agency programs.

These shortfalls were not noted by OMB's Chief Performance Officer Jeff Zients, however, in an Aug. 25 White House blog post. Zients says the site "provides a window into the Obama administration's approach to improving federal government performance and ensuring accountability of senior officials for achieving results."

"For [eight] areas of focus, the site provides access to management dashboards, data and descriptions of best practices," adds Zients.

The dashboard is divided into eight sections: acquisition, financial management, human resources, technology, performance improvement, open government, sustainability and customer service. Each section compiles applicable information already available on other sites by linking directly to those sources.

For example, the technology section of performance.gov features short descriptions and links to the 25 point plan to reform federal IT, the IT dashboard and TechStat meeting information on CIO.gov. Other category pages link to appropriate portions of USAspending.gov, memos, executive orders and OMB announcements. The site offers very little in the way of actual data or visualizations, and instead references information by linking to other .gov sources.

Each of the 24 major executive departments has a page as well. Each page has a picture of the secretary or administrator, a link to the department's website, bullet points on the agency's mission and goals, and a list of the agency's "government-wide management initiatives" as they relate to the eight focus areas.

The Labor Department's initiative for information technology, for example, offers one line with links: "Efforts include effectively managing large-scale IT projects, achieving operational efficiency, and improving cyber security." Surprisingly, all the departments have the same exact same initiative for IT, making it apparent that agency initiatives on the performance.gov are temporary placeholders.

An anonymous Obama administration official reportedly told NextGov that the current iteration of the site does not, in fact, comply with the GPRA Modernization requirements, but will by the October 2012 deadline. The official also blamed the "pace of development" of the website on decreased e-government funding.

But the effort has not been without funding. 

According to the Federal IT Dashboard the complete fiscal 2010 investments and partial fiscal 2011 investments (which includes "related dashboards") bring the total expense of the performance dashboard to $1.2 million thus far.  

According to the database, investment in a "performance dashboard" began in fiscal 2010--as part of the Accountable Government Initiative (.pdf) --and five line items appear complete, with a total of $785,000 spent thus far:

  • Hosting and infrastructure is listed as 100 percent complete with a cost of $20,000;
  • Functional upgrade, enhancements and maintenance is listed 100 percent complete with a cost of $750,000;
  • Project planning is listed as 100 percent complete with a cost of $4,000;
  • Outreach and communications is listed as 100 percent complete with a cost of $1,000; and
  • Governance and budget is listed as 100 percent complete with a cost of $10,000.

Add the $785,000 from 2010 to two line items for fiscal 2011, which show partial completion.

  • MS-46191 "FY 11 Performance & Related Dashboards" is only listed as 20 percent complete and has $276,000 invested thus far;
  • and MS-48914 "FY11 Performance and related dashboards" is listed as 75 percent complete with $206,900 invested thus far.

It's unclear how these two line items, with similar titles, differ.

For more:
- visit performance.gov
- see the White House blog post

Related Articles:
OMB requests GPRA Modernization action items by Sept. 12
Zients: Federal agencies need to do 'more with less'
White House launches Campaign to Cut Waste