Federal Manager's Daily Report

Watchers of federal contracting-out policy found a

note of irony in a recent statement by the Office of

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Management and Budget regarding provisions under

consideration in the Defense Department authorization

bill for the fiscal year that starts October 1.


The House version of the measure would establish a

pilot program requiring that a tenth of new functions

be subject to a formal in-house versus contractor

cost comparison, meaning that DoD could not simply

decide to grant the new work to contractors without

formally considering hiring more federal civilian

employees to do the work. The measure also would

require similar studies of certain work already

contracted out; such studies would have to be

performed on a number of contractor jobs equal to a

tenth of the number of in-house jobs being studied

for conversion to contract.


In a statement opposing such provisions, OMB said

that “arbitrary quotas concerning commercial work

to be performed by federal employees would

undermine the department’s ability to redirect its

manpower . . .”


The phrase “arbitrary quotas” rang more than a few

bells around Washington, since that was the

opponents of contracting policy used against an

OMB initiative that had targeted 15 percent of

commercial-type jobs to be studied for possible

conversion through last year, and that had targeted

half of such jobs for eventual study. OMB ultimately

dropped those goals under that pressure, although it

still uses activity on “competitive so1. CIO Council

Reviews IT Investment Measurement Tool

As part of an assessment of the effectiveness of

commercial performance measurement methods for federal

IT efforts, the Federal Chief Information Officers

Council ran a pilot program for the balanced scorecard

measurement system (BSC) with the Department of Agriculture.


The underlying notion with BSC is that organizations

are more effective when guided by their missions and

when “balanced” by focusing on multiple perspectives,

said the report, authored by Patrick Plunkett,

co-chairman of the Community of Practice for IT

Performance Management.


USDA’s food acquisition tracking and entitlement system

(FATES) initiative replaced an inventory management

system across three USDA service agencies funded at $1.5

billion annually, and BSC took into account five

perspectives: customer, stakeholder, internal, one for

learning and growth, and a financial and budgetary

perspective. Each perspective included three objectives

with measures to gauge progress, plus initiatives for

achieving the objectives, said the report.


It said the BSC had to be tailored for the government

agency, and that for a major IT initiative such as FATES,

a BSC would typically be developed only after

organizational scorecards were available to align the

effort with the broader mission. But in this case those

scorecards did not exist for the USDA service agencies,

so its team had to “clarify organizational objectives in

addition to the IT objectives.”


The contractor said that as a top-down methodology, BSCs

are most effective when “organizations cascade them down

and throughout organizations to set priorities and guide

objectives of operating units,” according to the report.


It said the BSC methodology established a consensus among

senior managers for three objectives stemming from the

five perspectives. Those objectives reflected a strategy

to satisfy the mission, customers and users.


However, the methodology did not go far enough to define

methods to collect measurement data, which could impede

implementation, said the report.

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