Performance-based organizations made a comeback in President
Clinton's fiscal 2000 budget proposal.
Congress jump-started the idea of performance-based organizations
last year when it turned the Education Department's office of student
financial assistance into the first PBO. Until then, Congress had
ignored several agency requests to become PBOs.
In a PBO—a management concept envisioned by Vice President Al
Gore's National Partnership for Reinventing Government three years
ago—government executives are given broad exemptions from federal
procurement and personnel rules in exchange for tough performance
standards. The idea is that some federal programs can perform better if
they are run more like private companies.
The Patent and Trademark Office, the Defense Commissary Agency, the
St. Lawrence Seaway Development Corp., the U.S. Mint and the air traffic
services division of the Federal Aviation Administration have all sought
congressional approval to become PBOs in recent years. Those candidates
will again seek PBO status in Congress this year, the Clinton budget
Four additional agencies will also try to become PBOs this year, the
budget said. They are the Seafood Inspection Service, the Rural
Telephone Bank, the National Technical Information Service and the
Federal Lands Highway Program.
An administration official said the Mint came close last year to
becoming a PBO. Congressional and Treasury Department officials
recognize that the Mint could operate more effectively if it was a
performance-based entity, the official said.
The official said this year's nine PBO candidates have gained
confidence because Congress turned the student financial assistance
office into a PBO.
The Education Department did not originally suggest that the
financial aid office become a PBO. A House staffer borrowed the idea
from Gore's reinvention team and drafted PBO legislation for the