Bottom-Up Approach to Performance Improvement Recommended

A series of laws enacted over the last two decades has created a good framework for improved government performance and results “but it is still too top-down and does not meaningfully engage front line units,” says a report from the National Academy for Public Administration.

It said that OMB should “make organizational units the building blocks for improving performance” and designate long-term capacity to deliver performance and results as a government-wide initiative.

It said that key elements of a bottom-up model would include:

* Using data such as employee engagement figures from the Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey and data from other sources such as performance data to diagnose individual work units.

* “Create a learning-based approach (rather than a directive approach) to improve organizational capacity and performance in agencies by engaging organizational units to develop their own individually tailored plans for improvement” which may cross program and agency boundaries.

* “Help managers make effective use of a flood of new data relevant to their operations by giving them tools to access, analyze, and apply those data, as well as the skills to manage in this new data-rich environment.”

Over the long run, such an approach would “transform the federal government into an organization that learns from experience, constructively engages employees at all levels in this shared enterprise, and continually strives toward higher standards of excellence in achieving its many missions and policy objectives,” it said.