OMBlog

  • 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

  • Reducing Costs and Burdens: Further Progress in Regulatory Lookback Effort

    Over the last few years, Federal agencies have been implementing the President’s call for a government-wide review of existing regulations, identifying rules to be changed or removed because they are out-of-date, unnecessary, or overly burdensome.  As part of this retrospective review, or “regulatory lookback,” agencies across the Federal government have identified hundreds of initiatives to reduce burdens and save taxpayer dollars. In fact, the retrospective review effort to date includes actions that will save more than $13 billion dollars in the near term, with more savings on the way.

    Today, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid services (CMS) issued a final rule to reform regulations that the agency found to be unnecessary, obsolete, or excessively burdensome on hospitals and other health care providers.  This final rule streamlines health and safety standards that health care providers must meet in order to participate in Medicare and Medicaid.  One key provision in the final rule will specifically reduce burdens on small critical access hospitals and rural health clinics. CMS projects that the rule changes it is issuing today will save more than $3 billion over the next five years for the American health care system.  

    Today’s CMS action is just the latest example of an agency eliminating requirements it has determined are no longer necessary.  Another example of recent agency action includes the Department of Transportation’s proposed rule issued last summer to streamline requirements for truck drivers and motor carriers that would ensure drivers only have to file inspection reports when they identify vehicle problems or have reason to believe problems might exist. When finalized, this change is estimated to save tens of millions of hours in paperwork burden each year, resulting in more than $1 billion in annual paperwork time savings.

    Ensuring regulatory flexibility for businesses and reducing unnecessary regulatory burdens through the retrospective review process are top priorities for the President and the White House Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs.  And the retrospective review is a critical part of the Administration's regulatory efforts to promote economic growth and opportunity while protecting the health, safety, and welfare of the American people.  We will continue to work with our colleagues at Federal agencies on this effort and on ways to further institutionalize retrospective review as an essential component of government regulatory policy. 

    Howard Shelanski is Administrator of the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs at the Office of Management and Budget.

  • Reducing Costs and Improving Efficiency Through Federal Shared Service Providers for Financial Management

    As part of the President’s Management Agenda, the Administration is pursuing initiatives to streamline the way government delivers services internally, with a particular focus on the core administrative functions that are common across the government.  One of our key initiatives in this effort is to expand the use of high-quality, high-value shared services among Federal agencies.

    Today, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) and the U.S. Department of the Treasury are announcing the designation of four shared service providers for financial management to provide core accounting and other services to Federal agencies. 

    Following today’s announcement, offices from the Departments of Agriculture, Treasury, Interior, and Transportation will lead the administration’s efforts to use shared services for future financial management systems modernizations across the government. These shared services designations are another step in the implementation of OMB’s March 2013 Memorandum to Federal agencies (M-13-08 “Improving Financial Systems through Shared Services).

    As agencies migrate to the four providers, the government will achieve economies of scale and standardization. Using a financial management shared service provider will help agencies reduce the risk of new system implementations, allow for faster and less expensive technological innovation, provide long-term cost savings, and meet government-wide requirements and deadlines.  As a result of these improvements, agencies will be able to focus more of their resources and leadership attention on mission-based programs.

    With the designation of the four providers, more agencies can begin the process of migrating their financial systems.  The Department of Agriculture’s National Finance Center, the Department of the Interior’s Interior Business Center, the Department of Transportation’s Enterprise Services Center, and Treasury’s Administrative Resource Center are ready to support agencies for financial systems modernizations. 

    Treasury and OMB designated these organizations after a comprehensive application process that included leadership commitments, system evaluations, reviews of plans for scaling operations, and determinations that the providers have the capabilities to address the requirements of cabinet level agencies. Additional providers or product offerings may be designated in the coming years as more agencies look to move to shared services and lessons are learned from the initial four providers.

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

    Dick Gregg is Fiscal Assistant Secretary at the U.S. Department of the Treasury

  • Creating a 21st Century Government: Enhancing Productivity and Achieving Cost Savings by Reducing Fragmentation, Duplication, and Overlap

    Today, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) released its fourth annual report identifying opportunities for Congress and the Executive Branch to reduce fragmentation, duplication, and overlap, and achieve cost savings across the Federal government.  In addition, GAO provided a progress report on its previous recommendations. 

    We appreciate the valuable work GAO continues to do on this important topic. Since the beginning of the Administration, the President has made it a priority to identify and eliminate inefficient, unnecessary, or duplicative spending. 

    GAO’s findings recognize the progress that has been made in addressing the recommendations previously identified in its reports. For example:

    • GAO found that Congress and the Executive Branch have made progress on addressing 130 of the 162 (80 percent) broad areas needing attention.
    • GAO found that the Executive Branch addressed or partially addressed 267 of the 323 (83 percent) recommended actions directed to the Executive Branch.
    • GAO found that Congress addressed or partially addressed 28 of the 66 (42 percent) recommended actions directed to Congress.

    Many of GAO’s recommendations deal with some of the most complex and challenging areas across the Federal government. Fully addressing them is a long-term process that in many cases will take years to implement – a fact that GAO recognizes.

    The Administration is committed to continuing to make progress in this important area through the President’s Second Term Management Agenda, building on efforts to reduce administrative overhead, cut improper payments, reduce real estate costs, reform military acquisition, and consolidate data centers. 

    The Administration is also continuing efforts to reorganize and consolidate Federal programs to reduce duplication and improve efficiency; and the President is again asking Congress to revive an authority that Presidents had for almost the entire period from 1932 through 1984 – the ability to submit proposals to reorganize the Executive Branch via a fast-track procedure. 

    The President’s FY 2015 Budget included a number of specific proposals to address duplication and overlap in the Federal government, such as:

    • Streamline Farm Service Agency (FSA) Operations.  The FSA is focused on ensuring that it has the right workforce in the right places to deliver the best customer service possible.  FSA has conducted a review of 2,100 field offices, and in an effort to modernize its field structure proposes closing or consolidating 250 offices as part of streamlining efforts that will save an estimated total of $39 million in 2015.
    • Reorganizing STEM Education Programs.  The President’s FY 2015 Budget proposes a fresh Government-wide reorganization of science, technol­ogy, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) edu­cation programs designed to enable more strategic investment in STEM education and more critical evaluation of outcomes. In 2012, there were more than 200 STEM education programs across Gov­ernment. Already, a substantial number of program consolidations and eliminations have been imple­mented or will be completed this year largely through administrative action. The Budget continues to reduce STEM fragmenta­tion by proposing 33 additional program consolida­tions or eliminations, and focuses ongoing efforts around the five key areas identified by the Federal STEM Education 5-Year Strategic Plan.
    • Expanding Use of Strategic Sourcing.  The Administration’s efforts to leverage the Government’s buying power through the use of strategic sourcing has saved over $300 million since 2010 on commonly purchased goods and services. Creation of central procurement vehicles that can be used by all Federal agencies has reduced contract duplication and reduced prices for some common office supplies by over 65 percent.

    In each of the President’s first three Budgets, the Administration identified, on average, more than 150 terminations, reductions, and savings proposals, totaling nearly $25 billion each year. In the 2013 and 2014 Budgets, the Administration detailed more than 200 cuts, consolidations, and savings proposals, again totaling roughly $25 billion each year. The President’s FY 2015 Budget included 136 cuts, consolidations, and savings proposals, which are projected to save nearly $17 billion in 2015.  The cuts, consolidations, and savings proposals this year reflect the deep spending reductions that occurred in 2013, some of which have continued in 2014, and the fact that many of the Administration’s previous cuts, consolidations, and savings proposals have now been implemented. 

    The Administration looks forward to continuing to work with GAO and Congress to maximize the value of every taxpayer dollar while increasing the productivity and quality of Government services.

    For a Fact Sheet on the GAO Duplication Report, please click HERE

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

  • House Republican Budget Resolution Would Harm Economy, Seniors, the Middle Class, and Those Most in Need

    House Republicans today released a budget resolution for fiscal year (FY) 2015 that would harm the economy, seniors, the middle class, and those most in need, while not using any savings from ending inefficient tax breaks to help reduce the nation’s deficits.  The proposal stands in stark contrast to the President’s FY 2015 Budget, which would accelerate economic growth and expand opportunity for all Americans, while continuing to improve the nation’s long-term fiscal outlook.

    The President’s Budget provides a roadmap for ensuring the country reaches its full potential.  It accelerates growth and creates jobs by investing in infrastructure, research, and manufacturing.  It expands opportunity by ensuring health care is affordable and reliable, investing in job training and preschool, and providing pro-work tax cuts.  It ensures our long-term fiscal strength by fixing our broken immigration system and addressing the primary drivers of long-term debt and deficits, health care cost growth and inadequate revenues to meet the needs of our aging population.  And it supports efforts to make our government more efficient, effective, and supportive of economic growth.

    Unfortunately, the House Republican Budget pursues a different course.  Rather than advancing policies that accelerate economic growth both now and in the future, such as investing in infrastructure, research, and education, it sets out a path to cut these investments well below the already untenable levels resulting from sequestration. Rather than promoting economic opportunity, it would undermine the hard work of those struggling to put food on the table and keep their families healthy by cutting food stamps and Medicaid.  Rather than strengthening Medicare for seniors while improving accountability, it would end Medicare as we know it, turning it into a voucher program and risking a death spiral in traditional Medicare.  Rather than asking the wealthiest to contribute to reducing our deficits, it would raise taxes on middle class families with children by an average of at least $2,000 while refusing to use any revenue from ending wasteful tax loopholes to help reduce the deficit.  

    And rather than expanding health coverage for all Americans and making it more affordable, it would repeal the Affordable Care Act, raising health care costs on families and businesses and eliminating coverage for the 3 million young adults who have gained coverage by staying on their parent’s plan, the millions of people who have already signed up for private insurance plans through the Marketplaces, and millions more who can continue to gain coverage through Medicaid.  It would also wipe out other progress already made under the Affordable Care Act.  For example it would:

    • repeal the closure of the donut hole in prescription drug coverage, which saved the typical Medicare beneficiary who hit the donut hole roughly $900 on prescription drugs in 2013;
    • allow insurance companies to raise premiums and deny coverage because of a pre-existing condition and charge women higher rates;
    • allow insurance companies to reinstate lifetime dollar limits on plans;
    • no longer require insurance companies to allow parents to keep their children up to age 26 on their insurance plans; and
    • no longer require insurance companies to cover recommended preventive services at no cost under new plans. 

    Although the House Republican Budget adheres to the 2015 discretionary funding levels agreed to in the Bipartisan Budget Act, it proposes to drastically reduce non-defense discretionary funding in 2016 and beyond, reaching below sequester-level amounts.  Although the resolution does not specify what it would cut to reach those levels, we know that if the cuts were distributed equally across Budget, it would result in reductions of 15 percent or more below the levels the President has identified as needed to help our economy reach its full potential.  If those impacts were felt today, some of the results would be:

    • Head Start, which provides comprehensive early learning and development services, would serve about 170,000 fewer of the nation's most vulnerable children.
    • Title I, which helps ensure students receive support to meet challenging academic standards, would be unable to support the equivalent of roughly 8,000 schools and 3.4 million disadvantaged students, potentially resulting in 29,000 fewer teachers and aides with jobs.
    • The Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC), which provides critical food assistance to pregnant and postpartum women, infants and children would be able to assist more than 200,000 fewer postpartum women and children.
    • TIGER grants, which fund critical highway, transit, rail and port projects, would be reduced by the equivalent of $90 million from 2014, despite the high need for the program that was only able to award 4 percent of requested funding in the most recent round of grants and is an important part of investing in growth and jobs.
    • Job Training – More than 3.5 million fewer individuals would receive employment and training services through Department of Labor job training programs.
    • The National Institutes of Health could be forced to reduce the number of new NIH grants awarded by about 1,400, slowing research that could lead to new treatments and cures for diseases such as cancer, Alzheimer's, and diabetes.
    • The National Science Foundation could be forced to issue thousands of fewer research awards, affecting tens of thousands of researchers, students, and technicians.
    • Customs and Border Protection – 3,300 fewer Customs and Border Protection Officers (CBPOs) would be funded, impacting travel and trade at our nation's air, land, and sea ports of entry.  A decrease in CBPOs of this magnitude could lead to job and GDP losses, and tens of thousands fewer enforcement actions taken.
    • Criminal Justice – Over 3,500 fewer Federal agents would be funded to combat violent crime, pursue financial crimes, and ensure national security, as well as more than 3,100 fewer prison guards to maintain the safe and secure confinement of inmates in Federal prisons. 

    Moreover, the House Republican Budget fails to tackle some of the most fundamental issues that hold the key to further economic growth and job creation.  It fails to propose a multi-year solution for financing infrastructure improvements across the country that would create jobs and repair roads and bridges that have fallen into disrepair.  And it offers no solutions for our broken immigration system, even though independent economists of all stripes have said that commonsense immigration reform would grow our economy and reduce our deficits.

    The Administration strongly disagrees with the House Republican approach, and believes it would weaken our economy and our country.  At the same time, we are encouraged by the bipartisan agreements reached over the past year to return to a regular budget process that provides certainty for individuals, businesses and the economy.  The Administration looks forward to working with both parties in Congress throughout the coming year to maintain this progress and advance policies that will grow the economy and expand opportunity for all Americans.

    Sylvia Mathews Burwell is Director of the Office of Management and Budget. 

  • A Roadmap for Growth, Opportunity, and Fiscal Responsibility

    Ed. Note: This op-ed originally appeared in regional newspapers across the country.

    The President’s 2015 Budget provides a roadmap for accelerating economic growth and expanding opportunity for all while continuing to improve the nation’s long-term fiscal outlook.

    Despite the significant progress we have made in recovering from the worst recession since the Great Depression, too many Americans are still struggling to join the middle class or stay there.  That is why the President’s top priority remains growing the economy and building ladders of opportunity for all Americans to get ahead. 

    To create jobs and accelerate growth, the Budget includes an ambitious four-year plan that will put people to work repairing and modernizing our nation’s transportation infrastructure, paid for with one time revenue generated by pro-growth business tax reform.  It invests in American innovation and strengthens our manufacturing base by supporting the President’s goal of creating a national network of 45 manufacturing institutes.  And it supports ground-breaking research to fight disease, protect the environment, and develop new technologies.  

    The Budget also enhances the Administration’s efforts to deliver a 21st Century government that is more effective, efficient, and supportive of economic growth, focusing on areas directly impacting citizens and businesses. For example, it expands the President’s initiative to modernize the Federal permitting process for major infrastructure projects, cutting red tape to get more construction workers on the job faster, while still protecting communities and the environment.

    To expand opportunity, the Budget doubles the maximum value of the Earned Income Tax Credit for childless workers to build on the EITC’s success in encouraging people to enter the workforce and reducing poverty.  It invests on the President’s vision of making access to high-quality preschool available to every four-year-old child.  And it invests in new efforts to drive greater performance and innovation in workforce training to equip American workers with skills that match the needs of employers.

    To ensure the nation’s long-term fiscal strength, the Budget focuses on the primary drivers of long-term debt and deficits.  It builds on the reforms in the Affordable Care Act with another $400 billion in health care savings, continuing to slow health care cost growth and improve the quality of care.  It curbs inefficient tax breaks that benefit the wealthiest, and calls for pro-growth immigration reform, which the Congressional Budget Office has found would increase economic growth and reduce the deficit by about $160 billion in the next decade and by almost $1 trillion over the next twenty years. 

    Under the President’s leadership, the deficit has already been cut in half as a share of the economy, the largest sustained period of deficit reduction since World War II.  By paying for new investments and tackling our true fiscal challenges, the Budget continues that progress, reducing deficits as a share of the economy to 1.6 percent by 2024, stabilizing debt as a share of the economy by 2015 and putting it on a declining path after that.

    In recognition of the important bipartisan funding compromise reached by Congress in December, the Budget adheres to the 2015 spending levels that were agreed to in that deal. And it shows the tradeoffs and choices the President would make at those levels. 

    However, those levels are not sufficient – both in 2015 and beyond – to ensure the nation is achieving its full potential.  For that reason, the Budget also includes a fully paid for $56 billion Opportunity, Growth, and Security Initiative – split evenly between defense and non-defense priorities – which presents additional investments in critical areas, such as education, research, manufacturing, and security.  And the Initiative is fully paid for with a balanced package of spending cuts and tax reforms, so it does not add a dime to the deficit.

    The President’s Budget provides a responsible, balanced, and concrete plan that can serve as a guide for Congress in its work over the coming year and help ensure that all of our citizens enjoy the benefits of a strong and prosperous America for generations to come.

    Sylvia Mathews Burwell is the Director of the Office of Management and Budget.

  • Setting New Goals to Deliver a More Effective and Efficient Government

    Since the President took office, the Administration has worked hard to improve the effectiveness and efficiency of the Federal Government. A key component of this effort has been setting clear, measurable goals to drive better outcomes for the American people. These include agency-specific goals and government-wide goals in areas benefiting from cross-agency collaboration.  

    To continue our progress in this area, today, the Administration is announcing new two-year Agency Priority Goals (APG) and new longer-term Cross-Agency Priority (CAP) Goals, as well as releasing agency Strategic Plans outlining strategies for improving performance over the coming years. The new goals were selected based on their importance in accelerating economic growth, expanding opportunity, and ensuring the nation’s long-term fiscal strength.

     For example:

    • A new CAP goal is being established to spur job growth by encouraging more foreign direct investment (FDI) in the U.S. Over the last ten years, U.S. affiliates of foreign companies employed more than five million workers, mainly in high-paying manufacturing jobs, which, on average, pay up to 30 percent more than non-FDI jobs. The National Economic Council, together with the Department of Commerce and the Department of State, will lead this effort.  They will be responsible for improving coordination across the Government and enhancing Federal investment tools and resources.   
    • A new CAP goal led by the General Services Administration and the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) is focused on increasing Government efficiency by establishing cost and quality benchmarks in areas such as human resources, acquisition, IT and property management.  These new benchmarks will give agencies better data so they can make more informed choices about allocating resources and improving processes.
    • The Department of Veteran Affairs, in partnership with the Department of Housing and Urban Development, is setting a joint APG of eliminating Veterans’ homelessness in 2015, ensuring that our veterans receive the care and quality of life they deserve. 

    This spring, goal teams will release detailed implementation plans with specific metrics and milestones for Cross-Agency Priority Goals. Cross-Agency Priority Goals efforts will be co-led by leadership from the Executive Office of the President and Federal agencies, allowing for more broad-based ownership of cross-agency initiatives. This year also marks the first time that all agencies have revised their Strategic Plans at the same time, allowing for better interagency coordination.

    As we have done with prior goals, we will track progress on a quarterly basis on Performance.gov, allowing the public to see how we are doing, and judge what is working well and what is not. Last month, OMB released a report on recently completed APGs and ongoing CAP Goals that showed significant progress across the Government.  We look forward to building on that progress as we work to achieve the new goals announced today.

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

  • Updating Guidance on Use of Voluntary Consensus Standards to Promote Smarter Regulation, Collaboration, and Technological Innovation

    The computer, tablet, or smartphone you are using to read this blog is comprised of parts and components that were developed, manufactured, and assembled in different locations around the United States and the globe, yet was carefully designed to ensure that your device is safe and interoperable with other devices.  We don’t spend much time thinking or worrying about how our electronics work or if they are safe, due largely to the ingenuity of the companies that make these products and their willingness to collaborate with each other to develop technologies that are safe, innovative, and interoperable.  While these companies do an excellent job in designing our products, it is important to remember that governments also play a critical role in ensuring the products that impact our daily lives are safe, effective, and protective of the environment.

    Since the enactment of the National Technology Transfer and Advancement Act in 1995, U.S. Federal regulatory agencies have been guided by the Office of Management and Budget’s (OMB) Circular A-119, “Federal Participation in the Development and Use of Voluntary Consensus Standards and in Conformity Assessment Activities.”  In 1998, OMB issued a revised version of Circular A-119, which has been guiding agencies on the use of voluntary consensus standards in regulation and on conformity assessment ever since.

    Over the intervening years since those revisions, the scope of economic activity and technology innovation has become increasingly global, and its complexity requires governments to collaborate more closely with the private sector, other stakeholders, and each other.  Many of the regulations that U.S. agencies issue every year rely on the work of standards developers and providers of conformity assessment services in the private sector.  Many of these regulations impact companies, workers, and consumers both inside and outside the United States.  As the worlds of regulation, standards, and trade increasingly intersect, and domestic and international interests increasingly overlap, close collaboration within the U.S. government on these issues has become critical, as has a more comprehensive approach.

    In light of these significant changes that have taken place since 1998, OMB has joined together with the Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR) and the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) to develop a comprehensive proposal to update Circular A-119.  This forward-looking proposal includes important and timely updates to U.S. policies on how standards and conformity assessment support regulation, procurement, international regulatory cooperation, and other government functions.  The proposed changes will help:

    • strengthen implementation of international trade rules, helping prevent the creation of trade barriers, and avoiding unnecessary regulatory differences with key trading partners; 
    • support a flexible, transparent, and innovative U.S. standards system for the 21st Century that promotes economic growth, competitiveness, and job creation;
    • reduce regulatory complexity, duplication and costs on companies, workers, consumers and the U.S. Government itself, as well as cumulative burdens on the economy, through promoting retrospective review of existing regulations and increased reliance on private sector solutions, where appropriate; and
    • ensure that U.S. regulations reflect state of the art technical solutions for purposes of interoperability, as well as to protect the health, safety, and welfare of the American public and our environment. 

    This effort represents an important part of our ongoing work to strengthen our regulatory practices to help create jobs, grow the economy, and expand opportunity for the American people.  We invite you to review our proposal and submit your comments, which you may do online here.  OMB, USTR, and NIST will also be hosting a workshop this spring to obtain additional public input on the proposed changes. 

    Howard Shelanski is the Administrator of the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs of the Office of Management and Budget

    Miriam Sapiro is the Deputy United States Trade Representative

    Patrick Gallagher is the Director of the National Institute of Standards and Technology at the Department of Commerce

  • Real Progress in Meeting Agency Performance Goals

    Starting in 2009, the Administration established a common-sense approach to improving the performance of government. Following successful evidence-based practices used in the private and public sectors, the Administration began engaging senior Federal leaders in establishing two-year Agency Priority Goals in areas where agencies were focused on accelerated performance improvement. The Administration also established government-wide Cross-Agency Priority Goals in areas benefiting from collaboration across multiple agencies.

    Today, the Administration is posting performance results on Performance.gov for the 4th Quarter of 2013, which represents the final quarterly update for the 2012-2013 Agency Priority Goals. The agency reports show significant progress across the government in delivering results and positive impact for the American people.

    Below are some highlights:

    • As part of the cross agency efforts to support the President’s National Export Initiative, the Department of Commerce, as Chair of the Trade Promotion Coordinating Committee (TPCC), has taken actions to help achieve a record level of exports of $2.3 trillion in 2013, which supported an additional 1.3 million U.S. jobs.  For example, in 2013, the Department of Commerce’s International Trade Administration (ITA) met its goal of increasing the annual number of new markets that current U.S. exporters enter with ITA assistance to 6,100, a 7 percent increase.  The Department of Commerce and other TPCC agencies continue to advance the interests of U.S. exporters, especially small and medium sized, in markets beyond the United States.
    • The Department of the Treasury estimates that it has saved the American people hundreds of millions of dollars by creating an Agency Priority Goal around increasing electronic transactions with the public to improve service, prevent fraud, and reduce costs.  Included in this goal was an effort to modernize the Federal government’s payment and collection systems, which resulted in paper benefit payments dropping from 131 million in 2010 to 39 million in 2013, allowing us to get money to beneficiaries and back into the economy faster than ever.  At the same time, electronic collections jumped from 85 percent of total collections in 2010 to 97 percent in 2013, reducing costs to the Federal government. 
    •  After designating the improvement of business loan efficiency as an Agency Priority Goal, the Small Business Administration (SBA) has made considerable progress in making it more efficient for small businesses to get loans, while also reducing cost.  The SBA increased the use of paperless processing in their 7(a) loan program (which provides financing for various business uses, such as working capital and real estate) from 72 percent in 2011 to 90 percent in 2013, and from 55 percent to 76 percent in their 504 loan program (which provides financing for real estate and major equipment). The adoption of electronic loan processing also contributed to a 5.6 percent increase in loan volume from 2012 to 2013, growing the number of small businesses assisted.
    • The Department of State set an Agency Priority Goal of using its diplomatic mission overseas to increase the number of market-oriented economic and policy activities by 15 percent, helping to expand U.S. exports, create opportunities for U.S. businesses abroad, and increase economic growth and job creation.  State uses its more than 200 diplomatic missions to promote U.S. manufactured goods and services, analyze and address foreign trade and investment barriers, and provide counseling on exports to new firms.  State has exceeded its goal by 43 percent, achieving a total of 971 “success stories” – instances where an export deal is achieved, a dispute is favorably resolved, or a foreign policy is changed to help U.S. businesses expand opportunities abroad.
    • After establishing an Agency Priority Goal focused on preventing Americans at-risk of foreclosure from losing their homes, the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) initiated a number of measures to improve agency operations and help borrowers at the very early stages of delinquency when interventions can prevent serious delinquency.  HUD increased the number of households assisted with early intervention by 31 percent between 2010 and 2013.  HUD also reduced six month re-default rates from 17 percent in 2011 to 8 percent in 2013 among those who were helped by the agency’s mitigation programs.

    Bringing more robust performance management practices to Federal agencies is a priority for this Administration, and we are pleased to see these efforts gaining momentum. In the coming months, the Administration will set new performance strategic plans, establish new two-year Agency Priority Goals, and select new Cross-Agency Priority Goals that span the government.  

    To learn more about the Administration’s performance improvement efforts, visit Performance.gov, our public portal for tracking and reporting performance progress.

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

  • A Positive Step Forward for Our Nation and Economy

    Today’s passage of the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2014 marks a positive step forward for the Nation and our economy.  This bipartisan legislation provides funding for investments in areas like education, infrastructure, and innovation – investments that will help grow our economy, create jobs, and strengthen the middle class.  It supports our national security by providing needed relief for the Defense Department from the untenable sequestration cuts that were undermining military readiness. It ensures the continuation of critical services the American people depend on. And it brings us closer to returning the budget process to regular order.

    Passage of this legislation ensures that we have appropriations for every agency in the Federal government, enabling them to more efficiently and effectively serve the American people and bringing greater certainty to businesses and communities across the country. Key areas that are positively impacted by the legislation include:

    • Early Learning: The legislation fully restores funding cuts to the Head Start program that were caused by sequestration and provides dedicated resources to improve early education by supporting State efforts to expand preschool for 4-year olds.  And the legislation provides additional funding to expand access to high-quality early education for tens of thousands of additional children through the launch of Early Head Start-Child Care Partnerships.
    • Health Care: The legislation helps ensure we can continue to move forward in providing quality, affordable health care for millions of Americans through implementation of the Affordable Care Act. The Affordable Care Act improves many aspects of the Nation's health care system, such as preventing those with pre-existing conditions from being dropped or denied coverage.  It also provides tax credits to help pay for coverage and slows the growth of health care costs.
    • College Affordability: Funding is included to help bolster American competitiveness by supporting the development of innovative strategies to make college more affordable and help more students graduate on time with high-quality degrees that lead to good jobs.
    • Gun Safety: The legislation supports the Administration’s efforts to strengthen school safety and mental health initiatives to help protect our children from gun violence and provide those suffering from mental illness with the treatment they need.  It also includes funding for the Comprehensive School Safety Initiative, which will fund pilot sites for school districts to develop and implement innovative approaches to school safety.

  • The 2013 SAVE Award Winner

    And the 2013 SAVE Award winner is… Department of Veterans Affairs employee Kenneth Siehr of Milwaukee, Wisconsin!  Kenneth’s proposal received more than 16,000 votes out of more than 33,000 cast.

    The Department of Veterans Affairs sends the majority of outpatient prescriptions to patients via mail. Currently, in order for Veterans to track the delivery of mailed prescription medications they must call their local VA Medical Center directly.  Kenneth recommends saving pharmacy staff time and enhancing customer service by making the package tracking information available to Veterans online through the Veterans Health Administration’s existing web-based portal, MyHealtheVet.

    Keeping with tradition, Kenneth will have the opportunity to meet with President Obama in person in the Oval Office to discuss his winning idea.  Each of the finalists’ ideas will be incorporated in the President’s Budget and all other submissions will be considered for potential inclusion. 

    These ideas alone won’t solve our Nation’s long-term fiscal challenges, but they represent common-sense steps to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of our government and ensure taxpayer dollars are spent wisely.

    We thank everyone who submitted ideas for this year’s SAVE Award and congratulate our 2013 SAVE Award winner Kenneth Siehr.

    Sylvia Mathews Burwell is the Director of the Office of Management and Budget

  • Making Further Progress on Improper Payments

    Over the last four years, this Administration has made reducing the government-wide improper payment rate a priority.  Improper payments – those Federal payments made to the wrong entity, in the wrong amount, or for the wrong reason – represent a waste of taxpayer resources and undermine the integrity of critical government programs. 

    When the President took office in 2009, payment error rates were on the rise.  In fiscal year (FY) 2009, the improper payment rate was 5.42 percent.  Since then, the Administration, working together with Congress, has significantly reduced improper payments by strengthening accountability and transparency through yearly reviews by agency inspectors general, and expanded audits for high priority programs.

    As a result of this concerted effort, the improper payment rate declined to 3.53 percent in FY 2013 when factoring in Department of Defense commercial payments, compared to 3.74 percent in FY 2012 under the same accounting. Over the past year, we reduced improper payment rates in major programs across the government, including Medicaid, Medicare Advantage (Part C), Unemployment Insurance, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP - Food Stamps), Pell Grants, and two Social Security programs – Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and Retirement, Survivors, and Disability Insurance.  Furthermore, agencies recovered more than $22 billion in overpayments through payment recapture audits and other methods in FY 2013. 

    In programs administered at the local level, the Federal government has been working directly with States to ensure that appropriate corrective actions are put in place to reduce improper payments.  For example, through the Medicaid Integrity Program, Federal staff specializing in program integrity provide support to States in their efforts to combat Medicaid provider waste, fraud, and abuse.  In other instances, Federal agencies have implemented innovative techniques to ensure that benefit payments are accurate.  For example, the SSI program is using new methods to verify bank account balances and ensure beneficiaries meet program asset thresholds.

    The Administration is also advancing data analytics and improved technology to prevent improper payments before they happen.  For example, in January 2013, the President signed into law the Improper Payments Elimination and Recovery Improvement Act which reinforces and accelerates the Administration’s “Do Not Pay” efforts, requiring all Federal agencies to check the “Do Not Pay” list before issuing payments and awards.

    OMB has also begun conducting a comprehensive analysis of agency-specific corrective actions to identify programs with the highest return-on-investment or potential for substantially reducing improper payments.  This analysis will help shape guidance on improper payments to be released in the months ahead.

    Improper payments represent an unacceptable waste of taxpayer resources. Moving forward, this Administration will continue its efforts to be effective stewards of taxpayer dollars by reducing improper payments and other instances of waste, fraud, and abuse.

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

  • Improving Outcomes by Reducing Red Tape for Financial Assistance

    The Office of Management and Budget today published new guidance that significantly reforms and strengthens Federal grant-making to improve outcomes for the American people while reducing bureaucratic red-tape.   The new guidance is a key component of the Administration’s larger effort to more effectively focus Federal grant resources on improving performance and outcomes while ensuring the financial integrity of taxpayer dollars.  By streamlining eight Federal regulations into a single, comprehensive policy guide, the government can better administer the $600 billion awarded annually for grants and other types of financial assistance by decreasing administrative burden for recipients and reducing the risk of waste, fraud and abuse.

    The new uniform grants guidance improves on current policy by:

    • Eliminating duplicative and conflicting guidance;
    • Focusing on performance over compliance for accountability;
    • Encouraging efficient use of information technology and shared services;
    • Providing for consistent and transparent treatment of costs;
    • Limiting allowable costs to make the best use of Federal resources;
    • Setting standard business processes using data definitions;
    • Encouraging non-Federal entities to have family-friendly policies;
    • Strengthening oversight; and
    • Targeting audit requirements on risk of waste, fraud, and abuse.

    This guidance is the culmination of a two-year collaborative effort across the Federal government and its partners -- State and local governments, Indian tribes, research and higher education institutions, nonprofit organizations, and the audit community -- to rethink and reform the rules that govern our stewardship of Federal dollars. 

    The reform effort embodies principles set forth by the President, who directed OMB to work with key stakeholders to evaluate potential reforms to Federal grants policies in Executive Order 13520 on Reducing Improper Payments and in the Presidential Memorandum on Administrative Flexibility, Lower Costs, and Better Results for State, Local, and Tribal Governments.  In addition, OMB and its partners are continuing complementary work to strengthen program outcomes through innovative and effective use of grant-making models, performance metrics, and evaluation, as described in OMB Memorandum M-13-17 on Next Steps in the Evidence and Innovation Agenda.

    Looking ahead, implementation of the new guidance will be spearheaded by the cross-agency Council on Financial Assistance Reform (COFAR), which worked closely with OMB on its development.  The COFAR will work with stakeholders to facilitate implementation, evaluate effectiveness, and keep this important reform effort moving forward.  We still have more to do, but we’re proud to announce these changes.  For more information, please visit www.cfo.gov/COFAR

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

  • The 2013 SAVE Award Final Four

    Since its creation in 2009, the President’s SAVE Award [Securing Americans Value and Efficiency] has tapped the knowledge and expertise of frontline Federal workers to help improve government performance and ensure taxpayer dollars are spent wisely.

    Over the last five years, Federal employees have submitted tens of thousands of ideas through the SAVE Award on how to curb unnecessary spending and increase the efficiency and effectiveness of government operations.

    Last year’s winning idea came from Frederick Winter of the Department of Education, who proposed that all Federal employees who receive public transit benefits shift from regular transit fare to the reduced senior fare as soon as they are eligible.  Fred’s idea, along with other SAVE Award proposals, was included in the President’s FY 2014 Budget.

    Today, we are pleased to announce the finalists for the 2013 SAVE Award. Keeping with tradition, the winner will present his or her idea to the President in the Oval Office, and other proposals will be directed to agencies for potential action or inclusion in the President’s FY 2015 Budget.

    With today’s announcement, public voting begins to select this year’s winner.  Voting can be done through the White House website at: www.whitehouse.gov/save-award.

    Here are the 2013 finalists:

    Kenneth Siehr, Online Tracking of Veterans Mail Prescription Deliveries. The Department of Veterans Affairs sends the majority of outpatient prescriptions to patients via mail. Currently, in order for Veterans to track the delivery of mailed prescription medications they must call their local VA Medical Center directly.  Kenneth recommends saving pharmacy staff time and enhancing customer service by making the package tracking information available to Veterans online through the Veterans Health Administration’s existing web-based portal, MyHeatheVet.

    Patrick Mindiola, Electronic Passport Notification. The State Department sends thousands of Information Request Letters (IRLs) in response to passport applications via regular mail. These mailings delay the processing time for applications and result in unnecessary added costs. Patrick recommends saving time and money by responding via email first, requesting any additional information needed and asking the applicants to verify submitted information. Mail notifications would be used only when email addresses are missing or returned, or if no response is received.

    Dirk Renner, Share Certifications Across Agencies. Dirk has worked for multiple federal agencies and recently found out that his USDA Forest Service All-Terrain Vehicle (ATV) training was not transferable to the Department of the Interior’s Fish and Wildlife Service, where he now works.  Dirk recommends allowing comparable agency certifications to transfer from agency to agency or between departments.  This change would save time and reduce duplicative training and travel costs for employees across the government. 

    Buyar Hayrula, Collect Custom Fines and Penalties Online.  Buyar suggests creating a secure website to allow Custom and Border Protection (CBP) officers and agriculture specialists to collect payments by credit card at land ports of entry.  Currently, payment requests are often sent via mail when a cashier is not available. Automating this payment process would increase revenue collections and operational efficiencies at CBP while also helping reduce wait times for individuals entering the U.S. at land ports of entry.   

    As we have noted before, these ideas alone won’t solve our Nation’s fiscal challenges, but they represent common-sense ways to reduce costs and improve our government for the American people. Please take a moment to pick your favorite idea from the list and help us select the winner of this year’s SAVE Award.

    Sylvia Mathews Burwell is the Director of the Office of Management and Budget

  • Open Data Round Up

    On May 9, 2013, President Obama signed an Executive OrderMaking Open and Machine Readable the New Default for Government Information, directing historic steps to make government-held data more accessible to the public, entrepreneurs, and others as fuel for innovation, economic growth, and government efficiency.

    Under the terms of the Executive Order and the Administration’s Open Data Policy, all newly-generated government data are required to be made available in open, machine-readable formats, which greatly enhances their accessibility and usefulness while continuing to ensure privacy and security. Federal agencies are also required to:

    • Create a Single Agency Data Inventory. Agencies are required to catalogue their data assets, just like they would inventory computers or desk chairs, to better manage and use these resources.
    • Publish a Public Data Listing. On their agency.gov/data pages, agencies are required to publish a list of their data assets that are public, or could be made public.
    • Develop New Public Feedback Mechanisms. Agencies are required to set up feedback mechanisms to engage the public about where agencies should focus open data efforts, such as facilitating and prioritizing the release of datasets. Agencies are also required to identify public points of contacts for agency datasets.

    While there is still much more work to do, we are excited to see the great progress being made by Federal agencies to unleash the power of open data. 

    Over a dozen agencies have launched webpages at agency.gov/data, making it easier for the public to find, understand, and use government data.  Many agencies have released—and will continue to release—new datasets, which are now available both on agencies’ public data webpages and on Data.gov.

    Federal agencies are also working to put processes in place to manage data more strategically. In fact, over 15 agencies have launched data working groups inside their agency to improve coordination around data management, data security and protection, and data release efforts. 

    Some examples of agency-specific efforts include:

    • The Department of Energy is offering a suite of new application programming interfaces (APIs) that allow software developers to access tools like a solar energy resource findervehicle gas mileage estimates, and a utility rate database, among others.  The agency recently launched the American Energy Data Challenge to identify great ideas for using energy data to solve some of America’s most pressing energy challenges. Read more here.
    • The Department of Transportation has made more than 2,000 datasets publicly available and easily accessible.  This includes data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) that powers a SaferCar app that consumers can use to: compare NHTSA safety ratings for different vehicle models; locate child safety seat installation information; and track vehicle recalls. Read more here.
    • The Department of Veterans Affairs recently launched its agency open data webpage, which provides users with resources to connect to, and to more easily understand and navigate, the agency’s datasets. The webpage includes tools and resources that can be used to develop web and mobile applications and design data visualizations. The agency also highlights some of the datasets that are most valuable to its’ users, including a nationwide list of services for Homeless Vets including health care, mental health, job assistance, education, housing, and other benefits as well as a list of all benefits, services and resources available to family caregivers of veterans, including specific forms of compensation, support networks, and legal resources. Read more here.
    • The Department of Education launched its new agency data page, “ED Data Inventory”, which includes K-12 school performance data, school demographics, and data about colleges—including enrollments, graduation rates, faculty, and student financial aid.  Read more here.
    • The Department of the Treasury continues to encourage the release of open data sets across the federal government that can help spur financial innovations and empower consumers to make informed choices about their money. For example, the agency’s new public data listing page includes an interactive tool using data released by the Bureau of Engraving and Printing on the number of notes printed each year in different denominations. The webpage also provides users new ways to learn from the agency’s aggregate IRS statistical data, which have long served to enhance market research, business planning, demographic analysis, state and local government research, and public policy analysis. On the new agency data webpage, the public can also access daily data summarizing the Treasury’s cash and debt operations, monthly statements, and more.  Read more here
    • The United States Department of Agriculture features datasets and tools such as the USDA National Farmers Market Directory and API, visualizations and data sets in the Economic Research Service, and a dynamic API for the National Agricultural Statistics Service. The public can also now access key research information about the world’s plant gene banks as well as new satellite-powered data and mapping tools on the condition of crops across the country. Read more here.

    Here at OSTP and OMB, we are also working to help agencies adopt the Administration’s Open Data Policy to unlock the potential of government data. We have made additional resources available to help Federal agencies make data open and available in machine-readable form, including guidance to agencies about how to inventory and publish their data assets, as well as free code, software tools, and case studies that any agency can use or add to, are available at the Project Open Data website.

    The General Services Administration, which administers Data.gov, also continues to make improvements to the website. Check out Next.data.gov—a design prototype of the next generation of Data.gov. We are eager to hear your thoughts about how to make it even better. You can provide feedback about the proposed design and functionality via TwitterQuoraGithub, or by sending an email

    Responsibly making government data open and widely reusable is good for the American people and our economy. We look forward to continuing the work ahead to increase access to our Nation’s valuable information resources, to improve government transparency and efficiency, and to fuel economic growth.

    Nick Sinai is U.S. Deputy Chief Technology Officer

    Haley Van Dyck is Senior Advisor to the U.S. Chief Information Officer

  • Impacts and Costs of the Government Shutdown

    As the President has said, the shutdown that occurred last month inflicted completely unnecessary damage on our economy and took a toll on families and businesses across the country. Today, OMB is releasing a report that catalogs the breadth and depth of this damage, and details the various impacts and costs of the October 2013 Federal government shutdown.

    The report explains in detail the economic, budgetary, and programmatic costs of the shutdown. These costs include economic disruption, negative impacts on Federal programs and services that support American businesses and individuals, costs to the government, and impacts on the Federal workforce.

    While the report covers a variety of areas, it highlights five key impacts and costs.

    First, Federal employees were furloughed for a combined total of 6.6 million days, more than in any previous government shutdown. At its peak, about 850,000 individuals per day were furloughed. That number fell once most Department of Defense civilian employees were able to return to work as the Pentagon implemented the Pay Our Military Act.

    Second, the shutdown cost the Federal government billions of dollars. The payroll cost of furloughed employee salaries alone – that is, the lost productivity of furloughed workers – was $2.0 billion. Beyond this, the Federal government also incurred other direct costs as a result of the shutdown. Fees went uncollected; IRS enforcement and other program integrity measures were halted; and the Federal government had to pay additional interest on payments that were late because of the shutdown.

    Third, the shutdown had significant negative effects on the economy. The Council of Economic Advisers has estimated that the combination of the shutdown and debt limit brinksmanship resulted in 120,000 fewer private sector jobs created during the first two weeks of October. And multiple surveys have shown that consumer and business confidence was badly damaged.

    The report highlights some of the more direct impacts the shutdown had on the economy by shutting down government services. For example:

    • Federal permitting and environmental and other reviews were halted, delaying job-creating transportation and energy projects.
    • Import and export licenses and applications were put on hold, negatively impacting trade.
    • Federal loans to small businesses, homeowners, and families in rural communities were put on hold.
    • Private-sector lending to individuals and small businesses was disrupted, because banks and lenders couldn’t access government income and Social Security Number verification services.
    • Travel and tourism was disrupted at national parks and monuments across the country, hurting the surrounding local economies.

    Fourth, the shutdown impacted millions of Americans who rely on critical programs and services halted by the shutdown. For example:

    • Hundreds of patients were prevented from enrolling in clinical trials at the National Institutes of Health.
    • Almost $4 billion in tax refunds were delayed.
    • Agencies from the Food and Drug Administration to the Environmental Protection Agency had to cancel health and safety inspections, while the National Transportation Safety Board was unable to investigate airplane accidents in a timely fashion.
    • Critical government-sponsored scientific research was put on hold. Notably, four of the five Nobel prize winning scientists who work for the Federal government were furloughed during the shutdown. 

    Fifth, the shutdown could have a long-term impact on our ability to attract and retain the skilled and driven workforce that the Federal government needs. The shutdown followed a three-year pay freeze for Federal employees, cuts in training and support, and, for hundreds of thousands of workers, administrative furloughs earlier this year because of sequestration. These cuts will make it harder for the government to attract and retain the talent it needs to provide top level service to the American people.

    The report makes clear that the costs and impacts of the shutdown were significant and widespread, and demonstrates why this type of self-inflicted wound should not occur again.

    Sylvia Mathews Burwell is the Director of the Office of Management and Budget.