OMBlog

  • 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

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    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.

  • Buying What Works: Case Studies in Innovative Contracting

    Last week, the White House announced the launch of the U.S. Digital Service (USDS), a new team of America’s best digital experts dedicated to improving and simplifying the digital experience that people and businesses have with their government.  The USDS team has already begun to make progress by releasing the TechFAR Handbook, a guide that helps explain how Federal agencies can take advantage of existing procurement authorities to execute key plays in the Digital Services Playbook.

    The Federal Government has long used its buying power as one of the world’s largest customers to accelerate well-known innovations, from the first microchips to the Global Positioning System (GPS).  Today, Federal agencies continue to leverage innovative procurement practices that spur the private sector to develop advanced technologies to better serve the American people – and to pay only for successful results, not just best efforts.

    Today, the Office of Science Technology Policy (OSTP) and the Office of Management and Budget are pleased to release the first version of Innovative Contracting Case Studies, an iterative, evolving document that describes a number of ways Federal agencies are getting more innovation per taxpayer dollar – all under existing laws and regulations. For example, NASA has used milestone-based payments to promote private sector competition for the next generation of astronaut transportation services and moon exploration robots.  The Department of Veterans Affairs issued an invitation for short concept papers that lowered barriers for non-traditional government contractors, which led to the discovery of powerful new technologies in mobile health and trauma care.  The Department of Defense has used head-to-head competitions in realistic environments to identify new robot and vehicle designs that will protect soldiers on the battlefield.

    We encourage both private sector stakeholders and public servants to engage in a sustained public discussion, identifying new case studies and improving this document’s usefulness in future iterations.  At the same time, Federal government employees can join a community of practice around innovative contracting by signing up for the new “Buyers Club” email group (open to all .gov and .mil email addresses).  This “Buyers Club” group should provide a useful forum for troubleshooting and sharing best practices across the Federal government, serving everyone from contracting officers with deep expertise in the Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) to program managers looking for new ways to achieve their agencies’ missions.

    All of these innovative contracting efforts are aligned with President Obama’s management agenda to deliver a 21st century government that is more effective, efficient, and supportive of economic growth, including specific cross-agency initiatives on Smarter IT deliverystrategic sourcing, and shared services.  We encourage readers to join thepublic discussion of Innovative Contracting Case Studies, or sign up for the Feds-only “Buyers Club” email group.  We look forward to raising awareness about the many ways that the Federal Government can use the power of the purse to deliver powerful and cost-effective technology solutions for the American people.

    Tom Kalil is Deputy Director for Technology and Innovation at the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy.

    Lesley Field is the Deputy Administrator for Federal Procurement Policy at the White House Office of Management and Budget.

  • Skyrocketing Fire Costs

    Over the past twenty years, a changing climate, population growth near forests and rangelands, and the buildup of brush and other fuels have dramatically increased the severity of wildfires and the damage that they cause to our natural lands and communities. Year after year, fire seasons grow longer and longer, destroying homes, threatening critical infrastructure and the watersheds that provide clean drinking water to millions of people. Between 1980 and 2011, the average annual number of fires on Federal land more than doubled, and the total area burned annually tripled. Even as fire seasons have grown, the way we pay to fight these fires remains unchanged – and fundamentally broken.

    The Forest Service’s firefighting appropriation has rapidly increased as a proportion of the Forest Service’s overall budget, increasing from 16 percent in 1995 to 42 percent today. As the costs of wildfires have spiraled out of control, it has shrunk the budget of other Forest Service programs, taking millions of dollars from other critical forest health and land management priorities in order to pay for them. What’s more, often the programs we are forced to divert funds from are the very programs which help to mitigate the impact of wildfires.

    Today, the Department of Agriculture is releasing the Fire Transfer Impact Trends report detailing in clear terms just what this broken practice has cost us over the past twenty years – and what it will continue to cost us in the future if we don’t tackle this problem now.

    These spiraling fire costs have left the government unable to sufficiently invest in critical forest and rangeland priorities, including:

    • restoration projects designed specifically to reduce the  risk of catastrophic wildfire while restoring forests to be healthier and more resilient;
    • public access and tourism on public forests that stimulates local economies;
    • capital investments and maintenance to improve access and infrastructure on our Federal lands; and,
    • research and development to continue to improve the science behind our forest restoration, conservation and fire prevention and firefighting decisions.

    On top of the budget reductions outlined in the new report, the Forest Service’s non-fire program budgets are affected by “fire borrowing.”  Funds spent on fire suppression have exceeded the allocated amount in all but four years since 2000.  In these cases, the shortfall is covered through transferring, or “borrowing” additional funds from Forest Service programs that have already been cut over the last 20 years.

    The Forest Service recently released a state-by-state report providing examples of how funding for local wildfire preparedness, forest restoration, and other activities in nearly every state across the country has been used to instead fight fires, due to shortfalls in wildfire suppression budgets.

    Unless we act, the problem is going to keep getting worse.

    The President has put forward a common-sense plan to address this problem, modeled on congressional proposals with broad bipartisan support in both houses of Congress. This proposed reform would change the way we fund the most catastrophic wildfires, treating them the same as other natural disasters. This approach would provide certainty in fighting wildfires and investing in other areas that promote healthier and more resilient forests. And it would do so in a fiscally responsible way that lives within the overall funding levels already authorized by Congress.

    This is not merely a concern for future generations; it will hurt us right now, this year. If we see the kind of severe fire activity that we currently project, the Forest Service will soon run out of money and will be forced to transfer hundreds of millions of dollars from other programs in order to put out the fires.  A fix is needed, and needed urgently. The current system is untenable, dangerous, and simply irresponsible.  We urge Congress to act on this bipartisan proposal without delay.  

    Tom Vilsack is the Secretary of the United States Department of Agriculture.

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

  • Delivering a Customer-Focused Government Through Smarter IT

    As technology changes, government must change with it to address new challenges and take advantage of new opportunities. This Administration has made important strides in modernizing government so that it serves its constituents more effectively and efficiently, but we know there is much more to do.

    Last year, a group of digital and technology experts from the private sector helped us fix HealthCare.gov – a turnaround that enabled millions of Americans to sign up for quality health insurance. This effort also reminded us why the President’s commitment to bringing more of the nation’s top information technology (IT) talent into government is so critical to delivering the best possible results for our customers – the American people.

    A core part of the President’s Management Agenda is improving the value we deliver to citizens through Federal IT. That’s why, today, the Administration is formally launching the U.S. Digital Service. The Digital Service will be a small team made up of our country’s brightest digital talent that will work with agencies to remove barriers to exceptional service delivery and help remake the digital experience that people and businesses have with their government.

    We are excited that Mikey Dickerson will serve as the Administrator of the U.S. Digital Service and Deputy Federal Chief Information Officer. Mikey was part of the team that helped fix HealthCare.gov last fall and will lead the Digital Service team on efforts to apply technology in smarter, more effective ways that improve the delivery of federal services, information, and benefits.

  • Freezing the Federal Footprint

    From the beginning of the Administration, Federal agencies have worked to increase the quality and efficiency of their core administrative functions to enhance productivity.  As part of that commitment, one of the key pillars of the President’s Management Agenda is continued emphasis on the efficiency of government operations.

    In that vein, today we are pleased to announce that the Federal government has made significant progress toward implementing the Administration’s “Freeze the Footprint” policy for Federal real estate. At the close of FY 2013, the office and warehouse space in the inventory of the 24 Chief Financial Officer (CFO) agencies was reduced by roughly 10.2 million square feet.  

    Through this policy direction and utilizing existing administrative authorities, agencies are taking significant and creative steps to manage their real estate inventories by freezing growth in the portfolio, measuring the cost and utilization of real property to support more efficient use, and identifying opportunities to reduce the portfolio through asset disposal.

    Under the guidance to implement the Administration’s “Freeze the Footprint” policy, agencies developed three-year plans to restrict the growth in their office and warehouse inventories.  This policy requires that agencies freeze the growth in their office and warehouse inventory or offset any new acquisitions with a corresponding reduction.

    Agencies also developed internal controls to facilitate increased communication between agency Chief Financial Officer and Real Property Management offices. The Freeze the Footprint policy is just one step which supports the Federal government’s efforts to improve the quality of data on the real estate inventory to support greater consolidation and improved real estate management policies going forward. Through efforts like these, we will create a Government that will make a significant, tangible, and positive difference in the lives of the American people and the economy, and drive lasting change in how government works.

    To ensure accountability and transparency on agency efforts toward meeting their individual “Freeze the Footprint” baseline, agency baseline and FY13 office and warehouse space inventory numbers have been posted on Performance.gov

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

  • Mid-Session Review 2015

    OMB today released the 2015 Mid-Session Review (MSR), which updates the Administration’s estimates for outlays, receipts, and the deficit in light of economic, legislative, and other developments that occurred since the release of the President’s 2015 Budget in March. 

    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, and it continues to fall.  The MSR projects a $583 billion deficit in 2014, which is 3.4 percent of GDP, nearly $100 billion less than last year’s deficit and $66 billion lower than the Budget projection.  Looking ahead, the MSR estimates that deficits under the President’s proposed policies will fall to below 3 percent of GDP in 2015 and reach 2.1 percent of GDP by 2024.   

    At the same time, our economy is moving forward and businesses are creating jobs.  Businesses have added nearly 10 million new jobs over the past 52 months.  The housing market is rebounding, with rising home prices lifting four million borrowers above water on their mortgages in 2013 alone.  Americans are purchasing vehicles at a faster pace over the last two quarters than in any quarter since the first half of 2007.  The manufacturing sector has experienced stronger job growth over the last four and a half years than over any comparable period since the mid-1990s.  

    But the President believes more can be done, and our top priority must remain accelerating growth while expanding opportunity for all Americans.  The Budget provides a roadmap for making investments to accelerate economic growth, expand opportunity for all hard-working Americans, and ensure our national security, while continuing to improve the Nation's long-term fiscal outlook.  At the same time, the Budget takes key steps to both continue and enhance the Administration's efforts to deliver a government that is more effective, efficient, and supportive of economic growth. 

    By investing in our infrastructure and manufacturing, simplifying the tax code for businesses, reforming our skills and job training programs, and fixing our broken immigration system, we can create jobs and achieve stronger and more inclusive economic growth.  By rewarding hard work with fair wages, equipping all children with a high-quality education to prepare them for a good job in the future, making sure a secure retirement is within reach, and ensuring health care is affordable and reliable, we can expand opportunity for all Americans.  By eliminating wasteful tax breaks for the wealthiest Americans and making common sense reforms to Government programs, we can manage our Government more efficiently and effectively, and continue to cut the deficit in a balanced way.

    Brian Deese is the Acting Director of the Office of Management and Budget

  • Agencies Release Action Plans for Implementing New Performance Goals

    As part of the Administration’s effort to improve the effectiveness and efficiency of the Federal government, agencies have been setting clear, measurable goals to drive better outcomes for the American people.  In March, building on our prior goals, the Administration announced new two-year Agency Priority Goals (APG) and new longer-term Cross-Agency Priority (CAP) Goals. The new goals were selected based on their importance in accelerating economic growth, expanding opportunity, increasing the efficiency of the Federal government, and ensuring the nation’s long-term fiscal strength. 

    To further this effort, today the Administration is releasing detailed action plans for the fifteen CAP goals – eight of which make up the core of the President’s Management Agenda.  These plans are focused on implementation and include strategies, specific milestones, timelines, and indicators to improve cross-agency coordination and measure success in key areas. CAP Goal teams are being co-led by leadership from the Executive Office of the President and Federal agencies, allowing for more broad-based ownership of cross-agency initiatives that is key to long-term success.

    As we have done in the past, we will provide updates on our progress in achieving milestones for both Agency and Cross-Agency Priority Goals each quarter on Performance.gov, providing accountability on these important efforts to improve government performance.  

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

  • Calling on Congress to Eliminate Outdated and Duplicative Reporting Requirements

    Every year, Congress requires Federal agencies to produce thousands of written reports and plans on far ranging topics.  While these reports and plans often provide useful information for legislative decision-making, oversight, and public transparency, some reports and plans that were once useful have become outdated or duplicative, and needlessly divert time and resources away from critical agency mission activities.

    To help address this problem, in 2012, the Administration released an initial list of more than 350 outdated or duplicative reports and plans that Federal agencies recommended for elimination or consolidation.  Today, the Administration is releasing a new list that identifies 74 additional reports and plans recommended for elimination or consolidation.  This action represents another step in the President’s Management Agenda and overall effort to improve the effectiveness and efficiency of the Federal government.  As required by the Government Performance and Results Modernization Act of 2010, these lists have been posted on Performance.gov, the Administration’s online tool for tracking government performance.  

    In many of these cases, reporting requirements have long outlived their need. Since 2000, for example, the Department of Homeland Security has been required to prepare an annual report to Congress on violations of the Dog and Cat Fur Protection Act.  For quite some time, however, there has been very little to report, with only one violation found in the past seven years.  Other reporting requirements remain on the books even though the particular program the report is focused on no longer exists.  For example, the Department of the Interior has a requirement from the Energy Policy Act of 2005 to prepare a report every year on the Royalty-in-Kind program that was discontinued in 2009. 

    We have already seen some progress in culling unnecessary reports and plans. With the passage of the National Defense Authorization Act in 2011, Congress agreed to streamline about half of the over 150 reports and plans the Defense Department recommended for modification that year.  And Congress did act to eliminate or modify some of the reports and plans included in the Administration’s initial 2012 list.  But most importantly, there is clear movement in Congress to address this problem even further, with legislation currently residing in both the House and Senate that would potentially eliminate or consolidate hundreds of additional reports and plans now required of Federal agencies.

    From the day the President took office, he has been committed to improving the openness and transparency of government, and increasing the amount and quality of information made available to the public and to Congress, through websites such as Data.gov, USAspending.gov, and Performance.gov.  We can continue that openness and transparency while eliminating unnecessary reporting requirements that waste limited taxpayer resources.  The Administration looks forward to working closely with Congress as we continue to make progress in this area in the months and years ahead.

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