An Information Sheet for Federal Communicators, Managers, Workers, and Their Partners--Pass It On
The President's 1,100-page, $1.61 trillion 1996 budget, sent to Congress on February 6, opened the door to a bold, new Phase II of the reinventing government initiative spearheaded by Vice President Gore. While Phase I focused on the "how" of government, this new phase tackles the fundamental question of "what"--what the federal government should and should not do. The budget is a key vehicle for implementing many of the REGO II initiatives now underway.
Performing for Results
For the first time, the budget also provides information on what results the American people are getting for their money. In other words, it answers how well federal agencies are performing based on actual outputs and outcomes, rather than focusing on the inputs of the past such as funding and staff levels. The budget reveals the progress of departments and agencies in building audit and measurement systems based on recent laws, mainly the Chief Financial Officers Act of 1990 and the Government Performance and Results Act of 1993 (GPRA).
GPRA's full-scale implementation will begin in the fall of 1997, when agencies will submit strategic plans to OMB and Congress. That September, agencies will also submit annual performance plans. These plans support OMB's preparation of the first government-wide performance plan that will be a part of the President's 1999 budget.
REGO, Phase II
The following highlights the key points the budget makes about REGO--Phase II:
The budget proposes a major restructuring of Housing and Urban Development, Transportation, Energy, the General Services Administration and the Office of Personnel Management.
The five major restructurings in this budget are organized around a few themes: consolidation, devolution to the states, privatization, and terminating programs or agencies that have outlived their usefulness.
This restructuring is but the first step in a government-wide examination of departments and agencies overseen by the Vice President's National Performance Review. The departments and agencies will take the lead, working with NPR, OMB, and White House policy councils. The Vice President has asked agencies to form teams to conduct the review. This effort is on a fast track and should be substantially completed by late March. Agency teams are to consider these questions:
1. If your agency were eliminated, who would pursue its goals--other agencies, states and localities, the private sector, or no one?
2. If we must retain a federal role to accomplish certain goals of national importance, how can we reach them in a way that improves customer service?
3. What do you think your customers--not just interest groups--think about the possible eliminations or changes?
Some of the budget proposals reflect a new concept--Performance Partnerships with States. The 27 partnerships, which consolidate 271 grants, seek to empower communities to assess their own needs and be held accountable for results.
The budget already estimates savings as a result of Reinventing Government--Phase II at almost $26.5 billion.
Role of Federal Workers
The budget stresses the critical roll of federal workers. Vice President Gore said:
"The President and I believe absolutely in federal workers. But these workers face uncertain times. We need to involve them in sorting out tomorrow's Government. We need to continue to cut red tape and empower them to get results. And we need to relate them in a way that values their past contribution and their role as the most important resource in the Government of the future."
The budget provides for a 2.4 percent across-the-board increase effective next January 1, but makes no assumption about how to distribute the pay raise between locality pay and a national schedule adjustment. Continuing a process that worked well last year, the Administration will consult with employee organizations and others before deciding.
For more information, contact Pat Wood, Communications Team, National Performance Review, 750-17th St., NW, Washington, DC 20006. Phone: (202) 632-0150, ext. 102; FAX: 0390. We ask federal editors and communicators to help spread the word about REGO II by using this information in your internal publications and email. You will want to customize the story to fit your agency. If you want examples from other federal organizations, please contact our team. Also send us stories you'd like included.