OMB has revoked one of the last policies it issued during the Trump administration, which had told agencies cut back on their reporting of progress toward performance and priority goals in the budget process on grounds that the data is little-used.
Memo M-21-22 says the Trump-era policy—which in essence removed a section of Circular A-11, the general budget preparation guidance—“threatened to disrupt strategic and performance planning across federal departments and agencies. These activities are critical to clearly defining the outcomes the federal government aims to achieve, using feedback from our customers to improve service delivery, and being transparent about agency results.”
The new memo tells agencies that they instead are to “align their strategic goals and objectives, including agency priority goals, with the administration’s policy priorities, in particular continuing to meet the health, welfare, and economic challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, advance equity, and address climate change.”
“Agencies are encouraged to form partnerships proactively in areas where programs from multiple agencies must work together to achieve a common outcome and to submit proposals for joint agency priority goals to OMB where appropriate,” it says. Draft strategic plan objectives and priority goals should be submitted by June 4 to OMB, which will then work to “ensure alignment with the administration’s highest priorities” in developing the Biden administration’s President’s Management Agenda.
The new memo however leaves in place the prior memo’s guidance regarding creation of a federal program inventory, saying OMB “remains committed to making meaningful progress” toward it.
Separately, in memo M-21-21, OMB reminded agencies that once the administration presents its upcoming discretionary funding request, any testimony to Congress or other public disclosures regarding that request should be limited to the information it contains. Agencies “should not make commitments about specific programs not expressly mentioned in the discretionary request or address account-level details until the release of the budget” which will come later, it says.