OMBlog

  • The GAVI Pledge: An Investment in Future Generations

    It’s a rite of passage — parents taking their children to a doctor or nurse to be immunized against diseases that once threatened their grandparents’ generation. Yet, still today, too many children in the world’s poorest countries suffer from vaccine-preventable, life-threatening illnesses such as measles, diarrheal diseases, and pneumonia. And even here at home, we are seeing increasing outbreaks of measles due to gaps in vaccine coverage. 

    Today, the United States has joined our friends and allies to take a giant leap forward to address these preventable tragedies. Consistent with President Obama’s vision to end extreme poverty and fight disease, the United States is committing $1 billion over four years to GAVI, The Vaccine Alliance.

  • An Improbable Public Interest Start Up

    [To apply and learn more about the U.S. Digital Service, check us out here.]

     

    A year ago, I returned to California after working on the rescue team to fix Healthcare.gov. I slept for a couple of weeks, and I began the task of processing what I had seen and done. I knew that Healthcare.gov was the most important work I had been a part of. I saw that technology in parts of the government was in bad shape.

    But there was hope.  When asked, some of the very best engineers and troubleshooters in the world willingly put their lives on hold to dedicate their time to this very difficult problem.  When they got there, they found government officials and contractors, who also wanted nothing more than to fix the site and who were ready and willing to work together to make it happen.  There was limitless opportunity to do more.

    In May, we started to talk about creating the U.S. Digital Service. This was a daunting idea—because the challenges we face are so complicated and so important. But, I had seen first-hand how we can make a real difference when we bring the best talent to our toughest problems. Knowing what I knew, it would have been disgraceful not to try. So in August, I moved to Washington, D.C., to start the U.S. Digital Service with one other employee, Erie Meyer. Since then, she and now many others have helped me navigate, Forrest Gump-like, a series of milestones and major events that I only partially understand.

    Today, we have a few dozen world-class technologists working at the U.S. Digital Service. We have technology experts working on the veterans' disability claim backlog, Freedom of Information Act, climate change action plan, Ebola, and so many pressing issues that make a real difference in people’s lives. We kept quiet for a while to see if our ideas proved out, but now it is time to go bigger. We need more technologists to join us as we strive to:

    • Deliver veterans their earned benefits faster.
    • Connect all people with student loan debt to their best, most affordable repayment options.
    • Make Social Security benefits as simple to manage as a social media profile.
    • Unlock capital and other resources available to startups through the Small Business Administration.
    • Create visa applications and passport renewals to be as clear as ordering a book online.  

    Lots of people have asked me what's been most surprising about my time in government so far--I think they're expecting me to say the bureaucracy, the Blackberrys, or the curious practice of writing everything in Powerpoint form before printing it and handing it out.

    But what's truly been the biggest surprise is how the very best engineers, technologists, and designers are ready to give up the perks of the private sector and work alongside equally talented government colleagues to take on the toughest problems in government.  They are seizing the tremendous opportunity we have to transform the way government delivers services to people.  They are not discouraged by challenges.  They are energized.  Mastering technology is one of the greatest challenges facing our government, and our generation is answering the call.

    Our team already includes the lead developer on Google Chrome, the third engineer ever hired at Amazon, and the former Operations Director at Twitter--all people who had likely never considered serving in government, until they were asked to.  And now they are applying their cutting-edge skills to fixing the very services that their friends, neighbors, and so many others depend on.   

    We are recruiting talented professionals like these to form Digital Service teams throughout the government.  We are partnering with dedicated public servants to embed these teams into agencies where they can gain traction on mission critical problems that have the most impact on everyday people. We are lucky to already have 18F at the General Services Administration, and the White House's Office of Science and Technology Policy, as part of the team.

    We're especially proud of our work at the Department of Veterans Affairs, where we're helping build a Digital Service team. In its short time on the ground, this team has already worked on projects like the Veteran's Employment Center. This one tool, built in three months, delivered the functionality of three different planned IT systems an entire year early and eliminated about $14 million in planned procurements and contracts. The cost savings matter. But most important are the stories of customers like Vickie, a homeless vet in Seattle who—with the help of the tool—landed two job offers.

    I don't blame you if you are skeptical that we can fix the biggest problems in government. I used to be, too. But every day, I am reminded of a quote by President Kennedy that is sewn into the Oval Office rug: "No problem of human destiny is beyond human beings."

    We have found the problems. We need the human beings. We are calling on America’s talented technologists to be part of the solution. We hope we'll hear from you soon.

    [To apply and learn more about the U.S. Digital Service, check us out here.]

    Mikey Dickerson is the Administrator of the U.S. Digital Service and the U.S Deputy Chief Information Officer.

  • U.S.-U.K. Digital Government Partnership

    Today, we are building on a long history of innovation and collaboration on digital technologies with the United Kingdom.  The President and Prime Minister Cameron just announced a commitment to strengthen and expand the ongoing digital partnership between our two countries.  Both countries have made real progress in working to improve how our governments use digital services to better serve citizens and businesses, and to build a stronger digital economy.  We will expand our already existing collaborations in these areas as well as continue to support open data and open government initiatives for our own countries as well as for all countries.

    U.S.-U.K. innovation and collaboration on digital technology dates back to WWII, when both countries were in need of extraordinary amounts of mathematical computation capacity.  Teams from both countries did the seminal work that created modern digital computing.  Breakthrough work included the United Kingdom’s Bletchley Park code breakers, the ENIAC ballistics calculation advances in the United States, and many other groundbreaking programs in both countries. 

    The U.S. and U.K. have also been ongoing innovators of open government and open data; from very early releases and collaborations on weather and mapping data to full data portals now hosted at the United Kingdom’s data.gov.uk, and data.gov in the United States, which host hundreds of thousands of government data sets released to the public.  And for decades, United States and United Kingdom innovators have been at the forefront of including children in learning computer coding – from early work at Dartmouth to MIT Media Lab’s Seymour Papert’s seminal work on Logo in the 1970s and 80s, to the UK’s BBC Micro from Acorn, a computer designed with an emphasis on education created during those same early years.

    Each of us, personally, has our own digital history with the United Kingdom:

    “This shared digital history is personally powerful to me because of my own connection to it: as a young student in England during the 1950's, my father fell in love with these new digital gizmos, learning to "program" them by changing out transistors and watching what would happen next.  He followed this passion to MIT and a graduate degree in electrical engineering ("computer science" hadn't been invented yet). The magic of those machines never left him - he went to work for IBM and then started a technology company headquartered in New York and London that he still runs today.”Office of Management and Budget Director, Shaun Donovan

    “I learned about the deep U.S.-U.K. digital history through many years of joining the Silicon Valley Comes to the U.K. events held in London each November.  This is an annual program to bring together the two country’s tech /entrepreneurship communities --- it was during a session at 10 Downing where I first learned of the U.K.’s Lady Ada Lovelace, who is often referred to as the world’s first programmer.  This started my personal work to uncover the lost history of technical women and minorities.  At another session, Dr. Sue Black first told me about Bletchley Park– the subject of the new film The Imitation Game’ celebrating the work of WWII code breaking heroes including Alan Turing, Joan Clarke, and others.  Our chance meeting kicked off collaboration to help secure that museum’s future and further teamwork with Code.org and others on coding skills for youth and adults in both countries.”U.S. Chief Technology Officer Megan Smith

    The next stage of the U.S.-U.K. partnership will focus on three core efforts:

    • First, transforming how government delivers digital services to better meet the needs of citizens.
    • Second, continuing to lead on global open government efforts through the Open Government Partnership, which enhances government transparency and public access to government data.
    • And finally, increasing our nation’s technological capabilities by training the next generation of digital experts and expanding the reach of high quality Internet access.

    Both countries have already stepped up their efforts in this area, learning from each other’s best practices. In 2011, the United Kingdom created the Government Digital Service (GDS), a centralized group of digital experts who have vastly improved citizen experiences when using government digital services.  This team has worked to make public services digital by default, simpler, less costly, and faster to use. 

    In the United States, we recently launched the U.S. Digital Service, a small group of highly skilled tech experts who are working with agencies to improve their citizen-facing digital services and hire their own embedded team of highly skilled digital service leaders.  In addition, GSA, the home of USA.gov, Data.gov and many other Federal websites, has built its own digital service team named 18F which is working with more than a dozen agencies to help them deliver on their missions digitally in a design-centric, agile, open, and data-driven way.

    Together, our two countries can continue to be leaders in all of these arenas.  We look forward to further collaboration, which now also includes sharing code through the best-practice of open source.  Next up, Mikey Dickerson, and members of his U.S. Digital Service team, alongside other innovators across the U.S. government, will head to the United Kingdom in coming months to continue the teamwork with the U.K. GDS.  Meanwhile, it has been a pleasure to host the United Kingdom leadership and some of the digital team here in the United States this week.

    Shaun Donovan is the Director of the White House Office of Management and Budget.

    Megan Smith is the U.S. Chief Technology Officer in the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy.

     

    ADDITIONAL BACKGROUND

    U.S.-U.K. DIGITAL GOVERNMENT PARTNERSHIP:

    Advancing our Nations’ Digital Services and Building Strong Digital Economies

     

    Today, President Obama and Prime Minister Cameron committed to continuing the decades-long collaboration between our two nations on advancing digital technologies.  This collaboration has already allowed our countries to make significant strides in upgrading government’s technology infrastructure and capacity to deliver services in order to build stronger digital economies.

    As digital technologies reshape the global economy, countries will increasingly depend on the free flow of information and data, a high-quality digital infrastructure, and public servants with the skills to drive innovation and deliver critical services and benefits to citizens.  The United Kingdom and the United States have made a commitment over the last few years to increase the effectiveness of government digital service delivery, open up government data for public use, and increase public access to technology.  Today’s announcement builds on that partnership by:

    • Transforming Government Digital Service Delivery:  Our governments interact every day with citizens and businesses, delivering services aimed at improving lives and strengthening our economies.  Both governments have developed digital service teams who seek to transform the way the government interacts with citizens and businesses.  Through the partnership we are forging, these teams will continue to work together to share best practices and tackle shared challenges.
    • Advancing the Global Effort on Open Government: The United States and United Kingdom jointly founded the global Open Government Partnership, a group of 65 nations who are working to champion the values of open government and spread its benefits around the world.  We will jointly commit to build on the landmark agreement of G8 leaders to an Open Data Charter, promulgated under the UK G8 Presidency in 2013, and further promote these principles in other international forums.
    • Increasing our Nations’ Tech Capability and Promoting the 21st Century Citizen: The United States and United Kingdom are committed to expanding access to high quality internet for all of their citizens. We are also investing in training children and adults to code, a key skill which will allow them to understand the basics of programing which can help address real world problems.

    The rich partnership between our nations on digital technologies dates back to World War II, when both countries were in need of extraordinary amounts of computation capacity.  Together, teams from both countries did the ground-breaking work that created modern digital computing.  In the coming months, we will agree to a Memorandum of Understanding to solidify this exciting opportunity and strengthen and enhance our longstanding partnership to transform the way governments deliver for our citizens.

    BUILDING ON PAST PROGRESS

    Digital Service Delivery

    • The United Kingdom created the Government Digital Service (GDS), a centralized group of digital experts who have vastly improved citizen experiences when using government digital services. This team has worked to make public services digital by default, simpler, less costly, and faster to use.
    • Last year, the United States launched the U.S. Digital Service, in many ways modeled on the GDS. This group is comprised of some of the country’s best and brightest tech talent and has worked with agencies like the Veterans Administration and the Department of Health and Human Services to improve the digital experience that American citizens and businesses have with their government. In addition 18F, a new delivery unit within General Services Administration (GSA), is working with more than a dozen agencies to help them deliver on their missions in a design-centric, agile, open, and data-driven way.
    • The United Kingdom developed a comprehensive Digital Strategy which consists of 14 actions to fundamentally redesign digital services. These actions include building common technology platforms and making digital services the default for transactions with the government. This strategy, once fully implemented, will save taxpayers in the United Kingdom £2.7 billion per year. 
    • The United States launched a comprehensive data-driven review of agency Information Technology (IT) portfolios to identify and eliminate duplicative systems and rein in wasteful IT spending. This effort, PortfolioStat, has led to over $2.2 billion in savings over the past three years. In addition to the adoption of new technologies and approaches such as cloud computing and agile development, PortfolioStat has helped agencies save taxpayer dollars and deliver greater value in IT.

    Open Government/Open Data

    • The United States has shown its commitment to open government by implementing an Open Data Policy, ensuring that data released by the government is accessible and useful to all. The Administration has released 138,470 data sets to date, and more are released every day. The United States is continuing to support this effort and identify data sets that will benefit the health care, energy, education, employment, public safety, tourism and agriculture sectors.
    • The United Kingdom has created GOV.UK, a single location on the Internet for citizens to access all government information and services. This single site has replaced over 1,500 websites.
    • Together, the United States and United Kingdom launched the Open Government Partnership in 2011. This global effort has grown to include 65 countries committed to making their governments more open, accountable, and responsive to citizens.  The United States and United Kingdom are world leaders on opening government data and will continue to expand this work.

    Next Generation: Coding at School, Connectivity and Tech Entrepreneurship

    • Last month, millions of U.S. and British students participated in Computer Science Education Week events that included a coding hour hosted by each leader where President Obama and Prime Minister Cameron tried coding to set examples and to encourage youth to join “Hour of Code” efforts.  To date, more than 40 million people from both countries have participated in this program. 
    • These Computer Science Education Week events are held each year during the second week of December specifically timed to coincide with the birthdays of our two elite computer science pioneers: U.S Rear Admiral Grace Hopper on December 9 and the United Kingdom’s Lady Ada Lovelace on December 10.

     

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  • Taking Category Management Government-Wide

    In December, the Strategic Sourcing Leadership Council (SSLC), comprised of the seven largest and highest-spending agencies, took a major step forward in transforming the federal acquisition landscape.  The SSLC approved dividing the federal marketplace into ten super categories of commonly purchased items as part of a larger move towards “category management,” an approach used extensively in the United Kingdom’s government and private industry for years.

    Category management is a new, more strategic approach that will enable the federal government to buy smarter and more like a single enterprise.  It involves identifying core categories of spend, and developing heightened levels of expertise, sharing best practices, providing streamlined solutions =, and managing supply and demand, for each of the categories.  The objective is to increase efficiency and effectiveness while reducing costs and redundancies.

    The ten super categories include important spending areas like IT, Transportation, Travel, and Professional Services, which make up $270B, or two-thirds, of the total spend on goods and services.  Each category will be led by a team of experts who will develop a common, government-wide strategy for smarter buying.  An online portal called the Common Acquisition Platform (CAP), currently in development by GSA, is the starting point that puts all acquisition categories in one place for easier navigation of purchasing options.  

    The categories of common spend are:

     

    Let’s take a look at why category management is so important. Today, the federal acquisition system is fragmented, with thousands of buying offices in hundreds of departments and agencies acquiring more than $400 billion in goods and services each year.  Far too often, our acquisition professionals are making these purchases with very little insight into what their counterparts across the government are buying, who they are buying it from, what they are paying, and how they are buying it.  In general, there is very little coordination and sharing of information and best practices across government. In fact, there is no single place a government contracting officer can go to find out important details regarding existing contract vehicles for any particular commodity area. 

    Recently, the Office of Federal Procurement Policy (OFPP) released an important policy memo -- Transforming the Marketplace: Simplifying Federal Procurement to Improve Performance, Drive Innovation, and Increase Savings that makes category management an Administration priority for improving how we buy common goods and services. 

    This memo builds on the good work already underway within GSA’s Federal Acquisition Service (FAS).  Working with OFPP and the SSLC, FAS has been playing a critical role in implementing category management, both within FAS as well as government-wide. The online portal or Common Acquisition  Platform (CAP) is an online tool that provides a new and transparent view of the fragmented federal acquisition landscape that will help drive the government to buy and act as one.  Specifically, CAP provides government buyers with comprehensive information about existing contract vehicles from multiple agencies, current market trends and expertise, transactional data, and good practices that will help them navigate the cluttered acquisition marketplace.  Within CAP, GSA has already launched “Category Hallways” or online sites– for several categories and sub-categories, like Administrative Support, Education and Training, IT Hardware, IT Software, Professional Services, and Small Package Delivery categories – see below for information about joining the CAP community.

    With OFFP’s direction and collaboration, GSA is taking an even larger role in implementing category management throughout the federal government. In the coming months, GSA will coordinate with the SSLC and other key players in the federal acquisition community to create guidelines for executing category management. These future guidelines will address how to  independently validate cost savings, create the right performance metrics, and benchmark contract solutions to pick the right one.

    Together, through this new approach to government buying, OFPP, GSA, and the SSLC agencies will play a vital role in making the federal procurement process more streamlined and transparent. Category management will empower agencies with spending data and contract intelligence so they can make more informed purchases that better respond to an agency’s needs, leverage budget resources, and benefit taxpayers.

    Are you ready to give it a go? Take a “walk” down one of the hallways at: https://hallways.cap.gsa.gov and let us know what you think!

    Anne Rung is the Administrator of the Office of Federal Procurement Policy.

    Tom Sharpe is the Commissioner of the Federal Acquisition Service.

  • “Dynamic Scoring” is Not the Answer

    The House will vote today on a resolution requiring the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) and the Joint Committee on Taxation (JCT) to adopt a practice known as “dynamic scoring,” which would change how the Congress calculates the expected cost of a piece of legislation. Current rules require calculating a policy’s direct cost to the government, which includes looking at how affected individuals and firms would react to the policy.  But dynamic scoring goes further by requiring that budget estimates also take into account how policies could affect the total size of the economy. While this may seem like another example of Washington “inside baseball” with little impact on the American public, using dynamic scoring for official cost estimates would risk injecting bias into a broadly accepted, non-partisan scoring process that has existed for decades. As a result, it could allow Congress to adopt legislation that increases Federal deficits, while masking its costs.

    Non-partisan economists and analysts at CBO and JCT analyze all spending and tax bills based on a stated set of assumptions that are chosen and widely recognized to be “accurate, consistent, fair, and impartial.” Given the importance of these estimates for policymakers in deciding whether to support legislation, any change to scoring rules should enhance their accuracy, consistency and fairness.

    Adopting dynamic scoring risks doing just the opposite.

    First, dynamic scoring requires CBO and JCT to make assumptions in areas with unusually great uncertainty. While all budget estimates are uncertain, there is substantially more disagreement among economists and experts about how policy changes affect the macroeconomy than about most other scoring issues. This helps explain why estimates from different CBO models of the long-run growth effects of a 10 percent tax cut differed by a factor of 15 – and ranged from positive to negative – when dynamic scoring was used.

    Second, and more fundamentally, dynamic scoring would require CBO and JCT to make assumptions about policies that go beyond the scope of the legislation itself. For example, when a tax cut or spending increase is deficit financed, its long-term effect on the economy depends heavily on how and when its costs are ultimately recouped – whether through higher taxes or lower spending, and after how large an increase in debt. When the legislation itself is silent on these questions, Congressional scorekeepers would have to make an assumption – potentially putting scorekeepers in the game, rather than just referees. Moreover, in standard models, these assumptions are often the difference between a positive or negative effect on the economy.

    Finally, dynamic scoring can create a   bias favoring tax cuts over investments in infrastructure, education, and other priorities. While the House rule would require dynamic scoring for legislation making large changes in revenues and/or mandatory spending, and makes it permissible at the option of leadership for any such legislation (even if modest), it would not apply to discretionary spending, ignoring potential growth effects of investments in research, education, and infrastructure. More insidious, economic models that find large growth effects of tax cuts are often based on the assumption that they would be paid for entirely through reduced spending – without taking into account at all the economic consequences the reduction in government investment.

    None of this is to say that policymakers should not consider economic consequences of legislation; despite the uncertainty of macroeconomic projections, these issues are often central considerations in policy debates. That’s why the Administration supports CBO and JCT’s current approach of providing supplementary macroeconomic analysis of major legislation – as they did for former Ways and Means Chairman Camp’s tax reform plan and for the Senate immigration bill. Under this approach, CBO and JCT provide estimates reflecting a range of assumptions about financing and other factors, and let policymakers use their own judgment about which set of assumptions should carry the most weight.

    The Administration stands ready to work with Congress to enact legislation that will benefit the American people and strengthen the economy. But Congress should not adopt changes in scoring legislation that upend the level playing field that has existed for decades, and could call into question the accuracy, consistency, and fairness of CBO and JCT budget estimates.

    Shaun Donovan is the Director of the Office of Management and Budget.

  • Q4 Priority Goals Update: Notable Progress on Government Effectiveness and Efficiency

    Almost one year ago, the Administration committed to ambitious improvements in Government services and better outcomes for the American public.  We established 15 new Cross-Agency Priority (CAP) Goals and every Federal Agency published a small number of Agency Priority Goals, totaling 91 across Federal the Government. Now, a year in, we are seeing notable progress and success as agencies work together and break down silos. Additionally, as a result of setting these goals and measuring progress against them, teams supporting the goals have identified new strategies to deal with roadblocks they have encountered. I wanted to share a few examples below, but you can find much more information by visiting Performance.gov where quarterly progress updates were published today. 

    • Benchmarking Cross Agency Priority Goal.  To enable Agencies to make data -driven decisions, GSA and OMB have partnered with the 24 largest Federal Agencies to unleash 40 metrics that benchmark the efficiency of government functions across more than 150 organizations in the areas of Acquisitions, Finance, Information Technology, Human Capital and Real Property. The Benchmarking initiative is the first of its kind across Federal Government and offers huge potential to deliver markedly higher efficiency and better performance from Federal mission-support functions, including through identifying opportunities to apply private sector standards where appropriate. As a result of this effort, we are already seeing results. For example, some agencies have experienced as much as a 10% increase in their reporting of contractor past performance, a vital way in which the federal government tracks the performance of its contractors.
    • Shared Services Cross Agency Priority Goal. In order to improve the way government delivers services externally, we need to aggressively reform the way government delivers services internally.  Greater use of high-quality, high value shared services will improve performance and efficiency throughout the government.  During Q4 for FY 2014, the Department of the Treasury’s Office of Financial Innovation and Transformation (FIT) developed guidance related to the governance of Federal financial management shared services.  The guidance, developed in conjunction with the designated financial management Federal Shared Service Providers (FSSP) and the Chief Financial Officers (CFO) Council defines the roles and responsibilities of key stakeholders and processes to foster consistent operational management among the FSSPs. To date, four agencies have already started switching to financial management shared service providers. This framework can also serve as the basis for adopting a shared services model in other management functions.

    In addition to our CAP goals, it is also encouraging to see many examples of strongly improving performance trends and a focus on continuous improvement in our Agency Priority Goals (even where specific stretch targets may not have been met).  For example, the State Department and USAID have made progress on their Climate Change Agency Priority Goal, and making low-emissions, climate-resilient sustainable economic growth a priority. To do this, they are measuring how the US strengthens capacity in countries and among people to ultimately reduce national emissions trajectories.  Where data is available, State/USAID have exceeded their intermediate targets on progress for this goal. For example, as of Q4, State/USAID report that 13 countries they support through the Low Emission Development Strategies (LEDS) Global Partnership have planned, proposed, strengthen, or adopted one or more strategies, plans, policies, processes, or activities  to support LEDS development and implementation as a result of their participation. Moreover, through the LEDS Global Partnership 2,386 officials and practitioners have received relevant training or assistance.

    Another example is GSA’s Strategic Sourcing Agency Priority Goal. The Strategic Sourcing Goal is both an agency goal of GSA, and a Cross-Agency Goal of government. The GSA effort saved $97 million, but still fell $13.4 million short of its $111 million savings goal. This challenge has propelled the GSA Goal Team to expand the reach of the effort and in turn, to develop a new policy approach that emphasizes category management expanding acquisition staff capabilities. 

    The Performance Improvement Council (PIC), who works closely on goal-setting and implementation for the goals discussed above, has just announced the launch of their own website - PIC.gov. PIC.gov provides an overview of the PIC staff, the council members, and all the work they do together to advance and expand the practice of performance management and improvement in the Federal Government. 

    Beth Cobert is the Deputy Director for Management at the Office of Management and Budget.

  • Transforming the Landscape of Federal Financial Assistance

    Today, the Administration is implementing measures to significantly overhaul and strengthen Federal grant-making regulations to improve outcomes for the American people.  The culmination of a three-year collaborative effort across Federal agencies, the rule released today by the cross-agency Council on Financial Assistance Reform (COFAR) will effectively implement OMB guidance on grant-making across Federal agencies.  These measures will reduce the total volume of financial management regulations for Federal grants and other assistance by 75%, and reduce administrative burdens and risk of waste, fraud, and abuse for the approximately $600 billion in Federal grants expended annually.  

    A key Administration priority, OMB has worked with agencies to focus Federal grant resources on improving performance and outcomes while ensuring the financial integrity of taxpayer dollars. Last December 2013, based on extensive public input, OMB published the guidance, Uniform Administrative Requirements, Cost Principles, and Audit Requirements for Federal Awards (“Uniform Guidance”),  to agencies in the Federal Register that would streamline eight Federal regulations into a single, comprehensive policy guide (2 CFR 200). OMB set a one-year timeline for the Uniform Guidance to take effect, allowing enough time for Federal grant-making agencies and award recipients to update their policies to fully realize the benefits of the Uniform Guidance. Today’s action implements the Uniform Guidance across Federal grant-making agencies through an interim final rule, which will allow for additional feedback on the rule during a 60-day public comment period. The interim final rule will be effective for new awards made on or after December 26, 2014.

    Key policy reforms in the Uniform Guidance will:

    • Allow state, local, and tribal governments to work in partnership with universities and non-profits to design the programs that best meet their local communities’ needs and obtain flexibility and enhanced coordination from the Federal government.
    • Allow universities to hire staff to do the administrative work that directly benefits grants so that scientists can focus on science.
    • Allow nonprofits and other organizations that have never been reimbursed for indirect costs to use a standard minimum rate that supports the fundamental operations of the organization; removing a key barrier to entry and opening up competition for Federal awards.
    • Publish Single Audit reports online, eliminating a burdensome paper-chase for reporting and providing the public with key information to strengthen oversight of Federal tax dollars.
    • Raise the threshold for required audits from $500,000 to $750,000 in Federal awards expended per year, maintaining oversight for 99% of dollars audited now, but focusing the resources to reduce risk of waste, fraud, and abuse.
    • Emphasize the long-standing requirement for non-Federal entities to have strong internal controls that are appropriate to the organization, while relaxing overly prescriptive and obsolete procedural requirements.

    Taken as a whole, this historic reform will transform the landscape for financial assistance for generations to come.  To realize today’s actions, the COFAR in coordination with OMB, engaged the larger public for direct input and worked directly with stakeholders to navigate between competing priorities, facilitate implementation, evaluate effectiveness, and push this important reform effort forward.

    But the dialogue does not end today.  The COFAR has already begun work with Federal agencies and non-Federal stakeholders to evaluate the impact of this guidance based on key metrics.  We invite you to join the conversation at cfo.gov/COFAR as we provide resources to support smooth implementation of the guidance and identify further opportunities for improvement.

    To comment on the rule within 60-days, please visit www.regulations.gov.

    Dave Mader is the Controller of the Office of Management and Budget.

  • OMB Director Shaun Donovan on the Passage of H.R. 83, Consolidated and Further Continuing Appropriations Act, 2015

    The Consolidated and Further Continuing Appropriations Act, 2015, continues last winter’s progress in returning to a more regular order budget process and avoiding manufactured crises while continuing to make needed investments in economic growth and opportunity.  For the first time since the financial crisis, this agreement marks two consecutive stable years of funding for agencies, allowing them to adapt to changing needs while also giving agencies the certainty that will allow them to plan and execute their budgets to serve the American people.

    As the President has said, the legislation is a compromise and no one got everything they wanted.  But, it is a step towards proving that a divided government can work without governing by crisis or threatening an economic recovery that’s growing stronger.  Building off last year’s efforts to reverse harmful sequestration cuts, the legislation protects critical investments across the government that will contribute to growing our economy, creating jobs, and strengthening the middle class. 

    Key areas that will be positively impacted by this funding include:

    Climate - The Administration’s ambitious climate and conservation agenda continues to move forward – from our efforts to cut carbon pollution from power plants, to our work on oceans, the Clean Water Act, stream protection, wildlife trafficking, and parks and monuments, the important work of protecting environment can be implemented with the resources provided in this bill.  The bill also means we can continue to invest in clean energy, manufacturing, and critical early stage research and development.

    Affordable Care Act - The funding provided enables the administration to move forward with implementation of the Affordable Care Act, including support for operating the exchanges.

    Fixing Our Broken Immigration System – The legislation does not impede the President’s efforts to reform our broken immigration system while we work towards enactment of a bipartisan solution.

    Early Learning - The legislation locks-in last year’s significant funding gains for the President’s early learning agenda, including $250 million for Preschool Development Grants to support State efforts to expand high-quality preschool for four-year olds and $500 million for Early Head Start-Child Care Partnerships that will help to expand access to high-quality early education for tens of thousands of additional children across the country.

    Manufacturing and Infrastructure Investment – The bill passes into law bipartisan Manufacturing Institutes legislation, which continues momentum for the Administration’s signature advanced manufacturing initiative. The Department of Transportation’s Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) grants program will also receive $500 million to support new grants that will go towards repairing existing infrastructure, connecting people to new jobs and opportunities, and contributing to our Nation’s economic growth.  Additionally, the bill extends funding for Trade Adjustment Assistance, which provides trade-affected workers with opportunities to obtain the skills, resources, and support they need to become reemployed, and provides $10 million for SelectUSA, a $3 million increase, to promote the United States as a destination for foreign business and investment.

    Responding to Ebola - Nearly ninety-percent of the President’s emergency funding request was provided to support the Administration’s continuing aggressive whole-of-government response to Ebola, including both domestic response activities and funding for international efforts as part of the Administration’s global health security initiative.

    Financial Industry Regulation - Two key regulators, the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) and the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), will see significant funding increases, supporting their work to create a more stable and responsible financial system through continued implementation of Wall Street Reform. The CFTC received a 16 percent increase and the SEC received and 11 percent increase above the FY2014 operating level. The bill is also free of language undermining the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) that some Republicans in Congress sought to include.

    Degrading and Destroying ISIL - Congress also honored the President’s funding request to support our efforts to degrade and destroy ISIL, including the Administration's requests for $1.6 billion for Iraq Train and Equip and up to $500 million for Syria Train and Equip, as well as other international and counterterrorism priorities.

    But, let me be clear: this legislation also contains ideological and special interest rider provisions that the Administration opposed. For example, the amendment to the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act will negatively impact a critical component of financial system reform aimed at reducing taxpayer risk.  In addition, the amendment to the Federal Election Campaign Act will allow individual donors to contribute to national political party committee accounts for conventions, buildings and recounts in amounts that are dramatically higher than what the law currently permits.

    Furthermore, it was shortsighted to provide less than full-year funding for the Department of Homeland Security. Short-term continuing resolution funding measures are disruptive, create uncertainty, and impede efficient resource planning and execution.  The Administration strongly believes DHS should be fully funded in the New Year without delay. And, the cuts to the Internal Revenue Service will severely hurt taxpayer service and deprive the federal government of billions of dollars in revenue collection.

    While not everyone got what they wanted, this legislation, which provides full-year spending for most of the federal government, reflects real bipartisan compromise. Avoiding a dangerous government shutdown that would have hurt our economic progress, and locking in full year funding for some of our main domestic and national security priorities, are important victories for the American people, for our economy, and the responsible stewardship of our federal government.

    Shaun Donovan is the Director of the Office of Management and Budget.

  • Leading America’s Workforce

    Watch on YouTube

    Today, the President honored the incredible innovation, energy, and commitment of the senior leaders of America’s federal workforce. These public servants come from all walks of life and from every corner of America to carry on the proud tradition of dedicating their careers to serving others.

  • Protecting Our Artists and Entrepreneurs in an Innovation Economy

    Editor’s Note: The following We the People petition response was posted on November 19 at White House – We the People.

    As President Obama has made clear, "our single greatest asset is the innovation and the ingenuity and creativity of the American people." An open Internet is vital to creativity, free expression, and innovation. A key part of preserving these qualities is ensuring that we have the right legal tools to counter criminal conduct that harms our creators and users (and our country's economic health) in the face of continuous technological advances. It is essential that in doing so, we preserve the openness, privacy, security, and creativity of the Internet and its users.

    For that reason, I'm pleased to discuss the Administration's position on criminal penalties for streaming of illegal, copyright-infringing content.

    To be clear: We are not advocating for, and do not support, Congress enacting criminal sanctions against people who upload their own, non-commercial performances of other artists' works on Tumblr, against the content creators making your favorite mashup on YouTube, or against the users of these services -- like many of you who signed this petition -- who watch and listen to this digital content.

    Rather, we think the law should deter the large-scale willful reproduction, distribution, and streaming of illegal, infringing content for profit. We think it is important to combat this type of activity because of the negative impact it has in diminishing the drive and economic incentive to produce the great movies, sporting events, and music that we love and that account for millions of American jobs and billions of dollars contributed to our economy annually.

    With this goal in mind, and in recognition of the dramatic way in which the Internet and mobile technology has changed how we access content, we believe that federal criminal law should be modernized to include felony criminal penalties for those who engage in large-scale streaming of illegal, infringing content in the same way laws already on the books do for reproduction and distribution of infringing content. And, it's worth making clear that this proposed change doesn't require altering the existing rights and obligations of those who upload or view online content.

    Legislative efforts to improve the copyright system, including those focused on streaming, will confront several key policy questions, a point the Department of Justice recently highlighted in testimony before Congress. In particular, as we look to modernize our laws to include felony criminal penalties for streaming, we should keep in mind that a felony is meant to reflect significant criminal activity. Therefore, in addition to establishing a felony streaming provision, Congress should consider the question of whether changes in the business model of streaming-based infringement also counsel corresponding changes in the way we set the harm thresholds -- e.g., the number of infringing acts or articles, their dollar value, and/or the statutory time period in which those acts must be committed -- required to establish a felony penalty for illegal streaming under the criminal copyright statute. The Administration is prepared to work with Congress on this important issue.

    This is a rational, straightforward update to our criminal laws -- and it's necessary because online piracy hurts some of our nation's most creative artists and innovative entrepreneurs and companies, and if left unchecked, runs the risk of threatening the health of the economy and American jobs. Moreover, it reflects a commitment to ensuring that our laws work effectively in balancing the rights and responsibilities for all involved parties and for the American people. We must also make sure that our laws and policies safeguard free expression, respect for consumer privacy, and cybersecurity in the online environment.

    While we strongly support this update to the law, we know that legislation and law enforcement, standing alone, are not enough to better the online environment. For instance, startups and content owners are also developing innovative new platforms and business models to market legitimate works online. Moreover, a range of voluntary, private sector-led initiatives are underway to develop and implement best practices to reduce intellectual property infringement that occurs online. They include leading Internet service providers, content producers and owners, payment processors, advertisers, and ad networks. This multifaceted approach is central to ensuring both the effective protection of intellectual property rights and the continued freedoms that make the Internet such a transformative and powerful medium.

    Alex Niejelow is Chief of Staff to the U.S. Intellectual Property Enforcement Coordinator and Director for Cybersecurity Policy on the National Security Council.

  • Transforming the Marketplace: Simplifying Federal Procurement to Improve Performance, Drive Innovation, and Increase Savings

    This Administration has made significant progress on strengthening Federal acquisition practices, reducing red-tape, and providing greater benefit for taxpayer dollars. Executive departments and agencies have cut contracts that are no longer necessary or affordable, – resulting in over $55 billion in savings in just FY 2013 alone – launched new efforts to pool the Government’s buying power through strategic sourcing, and implemented other smart buying strategies to deliver better value for the American people.

    While we have made tremendous progress, there is a critical need for a new paradigm in Federal procurement. The overwhelming feedback from industry and other stakeholders is that the sheer complexity of the Federal contracting space is leading to less innovation, higher costs, and weaker performance.  We have more than 3,300 contracting units across the Federal Government, but there’s very little sharing of information and best practices and very little collaboration across our organizations. The result is that we have a lot of duplicative efforts. For example, in FY 2013 we had more than 23,000 awards for HR training and services alone. Further, we have no central unit to share pricing information. When we’ve looked at pricing, we see huge price differences for the same exact item – sometimes as much as a 300% price difference.  We must transform the marketplace and create a new model for Federal contracting that’s based on sharing information, best practices, and increased collaboration between Federal agencies, and between agencies and industry.

    Today, I issued the guidance to agencies, Transforming the Marketplace: Simplifying Federal Procurement to Improve Performance, Drive Innovation, and Increase Savings, that describes ongoing actions to address these concerns and directs a series of specific agency actions that build upon the Administration’s ongoing effort to create a more innovative, efficient, and effective acquisition system to support the needs of a 21st century Government.

    Using the President’s Management Agenda’s pillars of effectiveness and efficiency as guiding principles, there are three core elements driving this new approach.

    • Buying as One through Category Management. We are implementing a new vision for purchasing, one that fundamentally shifts from managing purchases and price individually across thousands of procurement units to managing entire categories of purchases across Government collaboratively. This approach, called category management, is used extensively in industry and in the United Kingdom. In the Federal contracting space, it can be best accomplished by managing the more than $270 billion in annual spend for commonly purchased goods and services – over half of the Federal Government’s overall spend. By bringing common spend under management, including collecting prices paid and other key performance information that allow easy comparisons, we will ensure that agencies get the same competitive price and quality of performance when they are buying similar commodities under similar circumstances. We will also free up agency acquisition personnel to focus on complex agency-specific procurements.
    • Deploying Talent & Tools Across Agencies & Growing Talent Within Agencies to Drive Innovation. Opening the acquisition system to greater innovation is critical to ensuring the best results from our contracts.  We must embrace practices that encourage new and better ways of thinking and expand access to the most innovative companies.  As part of this effort, within 180 days of the date of this memorandum, the Office of Federal Procurement Policy (OFPP) will work with the Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) and other agencies to develop a plan for increasing digital acquisition capability, and the U.S. Digital Services, in partnership with OFPP, will pilot a program to train agency personnel in digital IT acquisitions and deploy trained personnel back to their agencies to encourage innovative acquisition practices Government-wide.  OMB will also work with OSTP and agency officials, including those responsible for research and development programs, to identify additional opportunities as well as incentives and mechanisms to pilot innovative contracting models.
    • Building Stronger Vendor Relationships. Early, frequent, and constructive engagement with industry leads to greater innovation and better outcomes. Such engagement is particularly important for complex, high-risk procurements, including those for large IT projects. We’ve taken several steps toward that end, including the launch of our first online national dialogue with industry earlier this year, and a pilot for a new tool for vendors to provide constructive feedback on agency acquisitions. These were important first steps. But we need better customer-facing tools and more ways to get feedback from industry on a regular basis. Smarter IT use it a key component to improving supplier relationships and Federal acquisition. To help companies enter the Federal marketplace and find agencies looking for their services, GSA has already begun to design improved online tools for vendors to more easily find opportunities to compete for contracts. Another key component is removing regulatory barriers to innovation. Within 180 days of this memorandum, OFPP, will make recommendations to the Deputy Director for Management on specific actions that can be taken to reduce burden in commercial item acquisitions, especially for small businesses.  Finally, relationships with vendors are still managed individually across thousands of procurement units through hundreds, if not thousands, of individual contracts. One company, for example, may have several thousand contracts with the Federal Government – yet it’s possible that no one entity would manage the relationship with that company government-wide. This approach makes it challenging for both the acquisition workforce and the vendor community to drive improved outcomes, control costs, and ensure transparency. We propose to manage key vendor relationships as a single enterprise. Mirroring other governments and industry, who focus on vendor, supplier, and performance relationships, OFPP will, within 90 days of the date of this memorandum, develop a plan to recruit the Federal Government’s first Vendor Manager for top IT commercial contractors.

    Utilizing the information and feedback we received from industry (including through the first-ever Government-sponsored “Open Dialogue” on Federal Procurement), agencies, and state and international governments, today’s guidance reflects a collaborative effort from all spectrums of the acquisition world to develop a more robust, simplified Federal marketplace that benefits vendors, buyers, customers and, most importantly, the American taxpayers.

    Anne Rung is the Administrator for the Office of Federal Procurement Policy at the Office of Management and Budget.

  • "It's Not Just a Ferguson Problem, It's an American Problem" -- Improving Community Policing

    Yesterday, the President announced that he will take a number of steps to strengthen community policing and fortify the trust that must exist between law enforcement officers and the communities they serve. As part of this, he proposed a new three-year, $263 million Community Policing Initiative investment package that will increase use of body worn cameras (BWCs) by law enforcement, expand training for law enforcement agencies (LEAs), add more resources for police department reform, and multiply the number of cities where the Department of Justice (DOJ) facilitates community and local LEA engagement.

    The new initiative expands programs within the President’s FY 2015 Budget, and builds on them by adding more resources to help integrate the federal government with state and local LEAs to build and sustain trust between communities and those who serve and protect these communities.

    The funding would support the following activities:

  • Taking Steps to Improve Federal Information Security

    In a rapidly changing technological environment, we must have robust procedures, policies, and systems in place to protect our nation’s most sensitive information. Growing cybersecurity threats make it ever more important for the Federal government to maintain comprehensive information security controls to assess and mitigate emerging risks. That is why today, the Office of Management and Budget, in coordination with our partners at the National Security Council (NSC) staff and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), is releasing annual guidance to agencies on improving the security of Federal information and networks, in accordance with the Federal Information Security Management Act (FISMA) of 2002.

    This year, and for the first time, the annual guidance on Improving Information Security and Privacy Management Practices, establishes a new process for DHS to conduct regular and proactive scans of Federal civilian agency networks to enable faster and more comprehensive responses to major cybersecurity vulnerabilities and incidents.  This new process complements existing agency information security operations, to include network scans, and will provide a consistent scanning methodology that quickly identifies risks and vulnerabilities that may have government-wide implications.

    In coordination with this release, the DHS is publishing the FY 2015 Chief Information Officer (CIO) Annual Federal Information Security Management Act (FISMA) Metrics and Updated U.S. Computer Emergency Readiness Team (US-CERT) Incident Notification Guidelines.

    • The FISMA Metrics are the result of a yearlong inter-agency process to improve the quality of the metrics.  Ultimately, these metrics are more than just a compliance exercise – they will get us closer to determining whether our processes are actually making us safer.
    • The US-CERT Incident Notification Guidelines streamline the way agencies report cybersecurity incident information to US-CERT, while improving US-CERT’s ability to quickly respond to emerging cybersecurity threats.

    These substantial improvements should not distract from the important work that lies ahead.  Evolving cybersecurity incidents underscore why agencies must remain ever vigilant to combat emerging threats.  As such, OMB, in coordination with the NSC staff and DHS, will continue to prioritize implementation of the FY 2015 Cybersecurity Cross Agency Priority (CAP) Goals and the DHS Continuous Diagnostics and Mitigation (CDM) program.  The FY 2015 CAP Goals, which can be found on www.performance.gov will continue to emphasize the implementation of basic cyber hygiene practices.  Additionally, once fully implemented, the DHS CDM program (initiated by M-14-03:  Enhancing the Security of Federal Information and Information Systems) will allow agencies to continuously monitor their networks and respond to risk indicators in near real-time. Ensuring the security of information on the Federal government’s networks and systems will remain a core focus of the Administration as we move forward aggressively to implement new protections and respond quickly to new challenges as they arise.

    Beth Cobert is the Deputy Director for Management at the Office of Management and Budget.     

  • The Foundation for Growth and Prosperity Revisited

    Today at Northwestern University, the President revisited the foundation for growth and prosperity that he unveiled more than five years ago, in April 2009, at Georgetown University. In that speech, he called for investing in new energy and technologies, expanding access to education for the country’s workers and children, launching health care reform, managing our nation’s finances, and putting in place financial reform and a stronger system of consumer protections.

    It’s worth taking this moment to look back at the distance the economy has come since 2009, and the work left to do to build a more durable economy for the future. When it comes to managing our nation’s finances, we face a very different picture than we did five years ago. As the chart below shows, under the President’s leadership, the deficit has been cut by more than half as a share of the economy, representing the most rapid sustained deficit reduction since World War II.

  • What Policy Simultaneously Improves Performance, Transparency, and Oversight for Federal Awards?

    On December 26, 2013, OMB published final guidance in 2 C.F.R 200 titled Uniform Administrative Requirements, Cost Principles, and Audit Requirements for Federal Awards to improve the effectiveness and efficiency of Federal financial assistance.  This guidance delivers on President Obama’s second term management agenda and his first term directives under Executive Order 13520, the February 28, 2011 Presidential Memorandum, and the objectives laid out in OMB Memorandum M-13-17 to better target financial risks and better direct resources to achieve evidence-based outcomes. The policy simultaneously improves performance, transparency, and oversight for Federal awards.

    But the next question is, “By how much?”

    To answer this question, today OMB is issuing new metrics to measure the impact of the Uniform Guidance.  We will use data collected annually in the Federal Audit Clearinghouse as well as information from Federal agencies and other partners to measure these policies against key benchmarks, and evaluate the need for future reforms. 

    Since the Uniform Guidance was published this past December, we have reached out to stakeholders through webcasts, Frequently Asked Questions, and numerous conversations, all while working closely with Federal agencies to develop their implementing regulations.  From this engagement, we believe the Uniform Guidance could transform the landscape of the more than $600 billion awarded annually in Federal financial assistance.

    We believe these new policies could save the Federal government more than $50 million per year in audit expenses, allow recipients to end burdensome and obsolete reporting practices, and allow previously administrative dollars to be re-programed to support better program performance.

    For example:

    • For universities, this could mean more dollars to put towards the basic research that underpins innovation throughout the world.
    • For small nonprofits, the simplifications could remove barriers to entry and open competition for Federal awards to more new entrants than ever before.
    • For state, local, and tribal governments, this could mean more flexibility to develop efficient, evidence-based programs that best provide citizens with the services they most need.  

    Further, this policy could improve oversight of these awards by increasing transparency through publication of audit reports, requiring recipients to have strong internal controls, and requiring Federal agencies to review risk prior to making an award.

    This reform delivers on the President’s directives to reduce both improper payments and administrative burden.  Most importantly of all, we think the Council on Financial Assistance Reform's process was inclusive of all stakeholders and responsive to their suggestions. The metrics we are issuing today will allow us to gather hard data to measure these impacts.

    The Uniform Guidance will become effective on December 26, 2014 upon publication of Federal agency implementing regulations, but we are not going to wait until then to begin the conversation. Please join Deputy Director for Management Beth Cobert, myself, the COFAR and partners as we discuss the potential impact of the reform with non-Federal stakeholders during our upcoming webcast this Thursday October 2nd, from 1:00-3:00pm, accessible with no RSVP necessary at www.cfo.gov/COFAR.

    To learn more about the Uniform Guidance, please visit the Council on Financial Assistance Reform's website, and check out the most recent Frequently Asked Questions Document.

    David Mader is the Controller at the Office of Management and Budget.

  • OMB Director Shaun Donovan on the Passage of HJ Res 124, Continuing Resolution, 2015

    Today, Congress took an important step in ensuring that critical government functions continue to operate without interruption and that we avoid a damaging government shutdown. As the President said, we are pleased that Congress — a majority of Democrats and a majority of Republicans, in both the House and the Senate — have voted to support a key element of our strategy: our plan to train and equip the moderate opposition in Syria. We are also pleased that Congress supported our efforts to address the Ebola epidemic.

    However, this Continuing Resolution is only a temporary solution. Congress must pass a long-term extension of the Export-Import Bank that would help American companies create and support jobs here at home. And there is more work to be done when Congress returns to pass comprehensive full-year appropriations legislation that appropriately funds both national security requirements and critical domestic priorities that promote economic growth, opportunity, and innovation.

  • Progress on Security and Suitability

    Today marks one year since the senseless acts of violence at Washington Navy Yard. After the events last fall, the President directed the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) to conduct a 120-day review of Federal employee suitability and contractor fitness determinations as well as security clearance procedures. As Deputy Director for Management, and chair of the inter-agency Suitability and Security Clearance Performance Accountability Council, taking the lead on these efforts was one of the first things I did upon arriving at OMB. The inter-agency team, comprised of members from across the Federal spectrum, engaged in an intensive review effort to assess risks and vulnerabilities inherent in current security, suitability, and credentialing processes, and identified actionable solutions.

    The 120-Day Suitability and Security Report laid out a set of 13 key recommendations to improve how the Government performs suitability determinations and security clearances. The report’s recommendations built upon DOD’s Navy Yard Reviews, and ongoing work by OPM, Office of the Director of National Intelligence, DoD and other agencies. We have a lot of work to do, but over the past year we’ve made meaningful and impactful progress, and are continuing to work and coordinate across the whole of government to accelerate this progress.     

    Here are some key points on our efforts to date:

    • Continuous Evaluation. The Administration has launched several pilots that are currently underway to assess Continuous Evaluation (CE) capability. These pilots have already successfully demonstrated the effectiveness of more frequent investigations of cleared personnel and a comprehensive CE program is scheduled to have initial operating capability for the most sensitive populations by the end of this year, and fully implemented for these populations in FY 2016. 
    • Frequent Background Checks. The Suitability and Security Executive Agents revised the Federal Investigative Standards (FIS) to establish a five-year reinvestigation requirement for all individuals with a security clearance, regardless the level of access.  This is a change from the prior practice of conducting background reevaluations every five and ten years for those with top-secret and secret clearances, respectively.
    • Improved Access to Law Enforcement Records.  In accordance with the FY 2014 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), the inter-agency Records Access Task Force examined the relevant policies that determine the level of access that background investigators have to public records.  The NDAA Task Force report provided recommendations for improving information sharing between State, Local, and Federal Law Enforcement entities when conducting background investigations.
    • Enhancing the Quality of Background Investigations. The Security and Suitability Executive Agents jointly released Executive branch guidance for the implementation of National Training Standards (NTS) for Background Investigators, National Security Adjudicators and Suitability Adjudicators.  The NTS will enhance the quality of background investigations and adjudications through standardized policies, processes and training.
    • Access to Classified Information. The Director of National Intelligence (DNI) issued a government-wide requirement for all agencies to review and validate whether each individual within their agency identified as eligible for access to classified information still required eligibility.  To date, agencies have responded with significant reduction of clearances across their agency population. By the end of CY 2014, our objective is to reduce the total number of individuals identified as having an active security clearance by at least 10 %.
    • Cross-Agency Priority (CAP) Goal. The Administration also established the Cross-Agency Priority (CAP) Goal on Insider Threat and Security Clearance Reform that serves as the 120-Day implementation plan and focuses on eight sub-goals that support insider threat, suitability and security clearance reform activities. This CAP Action Plan is publicly available at Performance.gov and is updated quarterly to monitor progress and hold agencies accountable for success.

    We’ve made progress, but there is more work to be done. We will continue to work aggressively to ensure rigorous oversight and accountability mechanisms are in place throughout government, thereby ensuring the safety of Federal workers and the protection of our nation’s most sensitive information.

    Beth Cobert is the Deputy Director for Management at the Office of Management and Budget and Chair of the Suitability and Security Clearance Performance Accountability Council

  • Improving Performance and Delivering Impact

    Early on in the Administration, we laid out an ambitious goal of ending veterans’ homelessness in 2015. Announcing the goal was the easy part.  However, to truly make sustained progress on this goal and drive on-the-ground results, we recognized the need to put in place rigorous management practices that would help the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), and providers of care improve services for veterans and their families.  

    In 2009, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) launched the Agency Priority Goals and the Cross-Agency Priority (CAP) Goals initiatives that established a series of clear, measurable benchmarks to help agencies deliver on their missions and drive better outcomes for citizens. VA and HUD’s efforts are prime examples of what the Priority Goals are all about. Each quarter, OMB tracks progress on Performance.gov to provide accountability and allow the public to see how we are doing, what is working well and what is not. Today, the Administration is posting performance results for Priority Goals on Performance.gov for the 3rd Quarter of 2014. The agency reports show significant progress across the Federal government in delivering results, which includes the President’s recent announcement of a 33 percent decline in veteran homelessness since 2010.

    Here are some highlights:

    • Veteran Homelessness.  Over the last four years, the Administration has reduced veteran homelessness by one-third (or by more than 24,800 people). To do this, the Department of Housing and Urban Development and the Department of Veterans Affairs collaborated to identify the biggest cause of homelessness and the most effective measures to reduce and prevent homelessness. As a part of the overall reduction in veterans’ homelessness, 35,000 homeless veterans have moved into permanent housing through VA-funded residential and rapid rehousing programs and the HUD-VA Supportive Housing program (HUD-VASH) through Q3.
    • Renewable Energy.  As part of cross-agency efforts to expand the development of clean, domestic sources of energy, the Department of Interior has greatly expanded permitting for renewable energy on Interior-managed, approving over 14,100 megawatts of renewable energy capacity over the past 4 years which, when built, would help power approximately 4.8 million homes.
    • Disaster Loans.  By implementing a new process for issuing applications to disaster survivors, the Small Business Administration has increased the proportion of its disaster loan applications returned by those who request them in each quarter in FY 2014. In Q3, the return rate increased to 80%, as compared with 50% and 62% in Q1 and Q2 respectively. This higher application return rate means more disaster survivors will receive much needed Federal disaster assistance, and SBA will improve the efficiency of its operations. This new approach also improves customer service by adding multiple touch points with disaster survivors and allowing them to more easily apply for assistance.
    • Federal Real Estate Footprint.  GSA is working proactively with agency customers to refine their leasing requirements and consolidate where economically and financially appropriate. In doing this, GSA is helping agencies minimize operations, maintenance, and investment costs. By the end of FY15, GSA expects to have reduced the amount of leased space by 5% on replacement leases. Though FY14 data is not yet available, GSA helped reduce the Federal real estate footprint by 1.4% in FY13.

    When I was Secretary of HUD, we used the Agency Priority Goal framework to take concrete actions that would advance our goal to end homelessness and set intermediate annual targets to significantly reduce the number of homeless veterans.  I led regular data-driven reviews with VA’s Deputy Secretary (a.k.a. HUD STAT) and our respective teams to see what was working and remove any roadblocks.  For example, by analyzing data reported from field offices, we could identify and work with cities that were not using a “housing first” approach, which removes barriers to help veterans obtain permanent housing as quickly as possible, with fewer prerequisites. By using the APGs the Administration has made significant progress on our goal to end veterans’ homelessness – going from aspirations to practical steps we could implement across the country to improve outcomes.  And now as OMB Director, I am pleased to help enable these types of performance improvement efforts across agencies on a range of issues. 

    The Agency and Cross-Agency Priority Goals are an opportunity for senior policy officials, career executives, managers, front line employees, and providers to come together to accelerate progress on the government’s bottom line outcomes.  By using a data-driven, implementation-focused approach, agencies are achieving significant gains in their respective missions to accelerate economic growth and expand opportunity for the American people.

    For more information on the Administration’s performance improvement efforts, please visit Performance.gov.

    Shaun Donovan is the Director of the Office of Management and Budget

  • Moving Forward on International Regulatory Cooperation

    As part of President Obama’s effort to achieve smarter and more effective approaches to international regulation, today I am pleased to announce the release of the U.S.-Canada Regulatory Cooperation Council (RCC) Joint Forward Plan. The Forward Plan represents a significant pivot point for our regulatory cooperation relationships with Canada, and outlines new federal agency-level partnership arrangements to help institutionalize the way our regulators work together. 

    The Forward Plan will remove duplicative requirements, develop common standards, and identify potential areas where future regulation may unnecessarily differ. This kind of international cooperation on regulations between the United States and Canada will help eliminate barriers to doing business in the United States or with U.S. companies, grow the economy, and create jobs.

    Regulatory cooperation has to mean more than just “aligning” specific rules across the border; such a rule-by-rule approach is neither practical nor scalable enough to meet our ever-changing regulatory environments. We need to think more broadly and creatively on how to build cooperative frameworks to achieve our economic and regulatory policy goals in a more dynamic manner.

    That is why the Forward Plan identifies 24 areas of cooperation that the United States and Canada will work together to implement over the next three to five years in order to modernize our thinking around international regulatory cooperation and develop a toolbox of strategies to address international regulatory issues as they arise. 

  • Hello, from the Digital Service

    It’s been nearly three weeks since I started my job as the Administrator of the new Digital Service team at OMB, and it’s been an exciting few weeks. For those who don’t know, the Digital Service is a unit comprised of some of the country’s best and brightest tech talent that was launched with one core mission in mind – to improve and simplify the digital experience that people and businesses have with their government.

    I had my first adventure in public service last fall, when I came on as part of the team to fix HealthCare.gov. The experience was life-changing. I’ve worked on a variety of major projects in my life, but nothing compares to having a direct, positive impact on countless lives. And when I got the call to be part of a team that would scale government-wide the same proven approach that ultimately enabled millions of Americans to sign up for quality health insurance, I couldn’t resist.

    The amount of enthusiasm and support we’ve received – from our partners at the agencies, members of the tech community, and the American people (including a colleague’s grandmother and many others who advised me to iron my shirts) – is truly inspiring. Over the last few weeks we’ve been able to bring onboard great talent to help drive this work. Like Jennifer Anastasoff, who founded a social-sector startup that provided a pathway for some of the nation’s top minds in business and entrepreneurship to join state and local governments; Erie Meyer, who served as a senior advisor to the U.S. Chief Technology Officer, helped launch the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s technology team, and was named to Forbes 2014 “30 under 30” list for technology; Brian Lefler, a software engineer with years of experience working in large and complex server-oriented architecture; Vivian Graubard, who led tech efforts on a Presidential Task Force that resulted in the launch of NotAlone.gov, and was named one of Time’s 30 People under 30 Who Are Changing the World; and Haley Van Dyck, who, as a technology advisor to the U.S. Chief Information Officer, was a driving force behind key Administration initiatives such as the Digital Government Strategy, U.S. Open Data Policy, and the President's Open Data Executive Order.

    This is an exceptionally talented bunch, and we are fortunate to be joining an equally talented team already in place in OMB’s E-government office (or “E-gov” as it’s known).  The strong foundation that E-gov has built has allowed the Digital Service team to get off to a great start.  Their expertise and knowledge about IT delivery within Government has really helped us hit the ground running, and we’re excited to continue to work closely together as we stand up the Digital Service. We are continuing to build a team of tech experts that have mastered a variety of disciplines, including design, procurement, human resources, and finance. The Digital Service team and OMB will work in collaboration with agencies to improve and simplify government digital services. 

    The first step in making these fixes has just been taken; on my first day, we released for public comment the Digital Services Playbook and the TechFAR Handbook. These are two crucial components in our growing IT toolkit that will enable agencies to do their best work. We’ve been getting great feedback on everything from typos to major substantive edits, but we can always use more; we encourage you to take a look and we welcome the input.

    Our work is driven by a fundamental belief in the skill and dedication of public servants. Government is filled with talented individuals who are uniformly dedicated to improving the lives of Americans. That’s why the Digital Service is not about doing IT work for agencies, but rather making sure that everyone is in a position to do their best possible work. In the weeks and months ahead, I look forward to helping Government Information Technology evolve into the kind of force for good governance I know it can be.

    Stay informed -- sign up here to monitor the latest news from the Digital Service.

     

    Mikey Dickerson is the Administrator of the Digital Service.