Archive for October, 2009
The newly formed bipartisan Senate Budget Committee Task Force on Government Performance held its first hearing yesterday, with testimony from several experts on government efficiency, including the new OMB Deputy Director for Management Jeffrey Zients.
While several themes were discussed, most were not new ideas or concepts. However, there are two I thought interesting.
First, legislators are attempting to play a role in measuring performance, not just in their role of developing the federal budget, but also to instill some form of continuity in the program management system. Several speakers noted the problems that arise when a new measurement system is implemented with each new administration.
And in fact, Zientzs said the Obama administration is working to create a revamped system of setting goals and measurements that is more outcomes-based than previous efforts. But he said the administration doesn’t plan to “throw the baby out with the bath water” but will instead build upon and use those aspects of GRPA and PART that are effective.
Second, the administration and legislators both agree there should be some form of accountability – and even penalties and incentives - built into a new program management system.
The task force hearing can be viewed online by clicking here.
It seems there are discussions about merging the Grants Policy Committee and the Grants Executive Board in an effort to coordinate the two aspects of the federal grants community.
As its name implies, the GPC is in charge of establishing policies to implement grants streamlining efforts. The GEB, on the other hand, has authority over the business side of the streamlining effort, including Grants.gov and the Grants Management Line of Business.
But soon the two boards may merge into one. Tom Cooley, chair of the GPC, said at a recent National Grants Partnership webinar that there are plans to merge the two so that policy people talk to program people, and they talk to IT people, etc.
Sounds like a good idea to me…
If you think the contents of the Federal Register can be informative but have found the data hard to use and sort through, there is some good news. The Federal Register has been converted into XML, a form of text that allows users to browse, reorganize, and customize the data in just about any way they want.
For example, rather than browsing the daily contents of the Federal Register by agency or department as you used to do, you can now rearrange the information to see what announcements might affect your grant program or join real-time discussions about proposed regulations.
The transition is part of the Obama administration’s Open Government initiative and was implemented by the Government Printing Office and the National Archives and Records Administration. The XML version of the last ten years of the Federal Register are now available at http://www.federalregister.gov.
President Obama has prohibited federal employees from texting while they drive, but the ban may not stop there: federal agencies will now be “encouraging” their recipients and subrecipients to also ban employee texting while on government (or company) business or in government vehicles.
The Executive Order, issued October 2, prohibits federal employees from text messaging while driving on official government business or while in government-owned vehicles. It also directs federal agencies to consider adopting education and awareness activities about the dangers of texting while driving.
But agencies now must also “to the extent authorized by applicable statutory authority” encourage recipients and subrecipients to adopt similar text messaging bans and to begin their own outreach and prevention activities.
I’m not sure how this will play out – or if we’ll see any impact at all on federal grants – but it will be interesting to watch.