Delivering Better Results Using Frequent, Data-Driven Reviews
Agency leaders are holding goal-focused, data-driven reviews on priority goals at least every quarter. At the Department of the Treasury, for example, the Deputy Secretary holds structured quarterly performance and budget reviews with each of his bureaus to steer the department in a unified direction and improve implementation. Attendance at these meetings cuts across hierarchies and bureaucracies, and agendas are carefully vetted. These meetings forgo “daily fire drills” in favor of using regular, evidence-based performance management strategies, and create an unprecedented forum for every major bureau to discuss priorities, not just crises, with senior agency leadership. Critically, every meeting ends with a set of clear deliverables, follow-up actions, and deadlines. The Treasury Department has used these reviews to sharpen the mission and goals of its bureaus, replace low-value performance measures with more meaningful indicators of performance, and foster collaboration and resource-sharing across organizational lines. This data-driven management discipline is spreading, and is now required by law for major Federal agencies. The examples below are a sampling of the reviews taking place across the Federal Government.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is starting its third year of data-driven reviews, called FEMAStat sessions. FEMAStat helps the Agency’s leadership evaluate performance against objectives, identify barriers to success, decide on actions to eliminate those barriers, and hold individuals accountable for implementation. The program is modeled, in part, on the efforts of other public organizations, such as the New York City Police Department, the City of Baltimore, the Department of Treasury, and the Department of Housing and Urban Development. As part of this process, FEMA is holding an ongoing series of strategically-focused meetings with directorates, regions, and offices. During these meetings, principal members of the FEMA leadership team, including the Deputy Administrator, discuss, question, and debate FEMA’s performance preparing for, protecting against, responding to, recovering from, and mitigating all hazards facing the Nation.
To track performance, the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) is using HUDStat meetings – frequent goal-focused, data-driven discussions – to identify problems and examine them more carefully to find patterns and causal relationships, speed progress, improve quality, prevent or reduce problems, and cut costs. In one HUDStat meeting that focused on rental housing, HUD examined geographic disparities in public housing occupancy rates to identify opportunities for increasing the number of renters it serves. HUD also expects its HUDStat sessions to inform program and budget decisions.
Social Security Administration Quarterly Reviews
The Commissioner and Chief Operating Officer of the Social Security Administration conduct quarterly progress reviews with key agency executives to ensure the agency accomplishes its goals. During these meetings, executives discuss current achievements, identify actions to improve outcomes and pinpoint areas to reduce costs. In order to analyze progress, executives use a monthly tracking report, which monitors data related to the performance targets included in the Annual Performance Plan. SSA establishes these monthly performance expectations at the beginning of the fiscal year and uses a stoplight approach to assess monthly achievement. Appropriate executives provide brief explanations for measures not on track.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) runs FDA-TRACK, an agency-wide performance management program that monitors all 100+ FDA program offices’ key performance measures and highlighted projects. The acronym that FDA chose for this initiative succinctly captures key objectives of the Administration’s performance management approach: Transparency, Results, Accountability, Credibility, and Knowledge-Sharing. Program offices develop, monitor, and report the monthly measures, which are then analyzed by FDA’s Office of Planning and discussed during quarterly reviews with the agency senior leadership.