Eighteen months ago, the Administration committed to ambitious improvements in Government services and better outcomes for the American public. We established 15 new Cross-Agency Priority (CAP) Goals and every Federal Agency published a small number of Agency Priority Goals (APG), totaling 91 goals across the Federal Government aimed at improving government performance.
As we approach the half-way point in delivery of the CAP Goals, we are seeing real progress and success as agencies work together and break down silos. On Friday we published quarterly progress updates on Performance.gov and I wanted to highlight a few examples of the progress being made:
Smarter IT –On March 30, 2015, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) Transformation program began using its new Electronic Information System to accept and process one of the agency’s highest-volume applications, the I-90 form, which is an application to renew or replace a Permanent Resident card. A U.S. Digital Service team from OMB worked hand-in-hand with USCIS Transformation program staff to prepare for this release. Digitizing America’s immigration application process will allow the agency to provide a better customer experience, combat fraud, improve accuracy, and reduce the costs associated with paper-based application forms and processes. This is one of many efforts under the CAP Goal to enable the federal government to procure, build, and provide world-class, cost-effective IT delivery for its citizens. Leveraging the U.S. Digital Service team to assist agencies in designing and delivering smarter IT is a key strategy under the goal. In the second quarter of FY15, digital services experts were involved with eleven IT projects across government.
Veterans and Service Members Mental Health – Data newly available shows that, for those Service members completing a Post-Deployment Health Reassessment (PDHRA) in 2013, who screened positive for PTSD, depression, or alcohol abuse and received a referral to mental health specialty or behavioral health in primary care, 55% received care at the Department of Veterans Affairs or Department of Defense (FY13), up from 46% in 2011 and performing well against our target of 56% by FY16.
Open Data – Earlier this year, the US Department of Agriculture, Department of Interior, and the Recreation.gov team hosted the open-to-the-public myAmerica Developer Summit. Eighty outside-of-government developers, entrepreneurs, outdoor enthusiasts, and representatives from other Federal agencies attended, half of whom traveled to DC for the event, with the goal of using publicly available recreation data to develop tools to allow travelers to discover and maximize their experiences on America's public lands. The "unconference" format, which allowed participants to form groups organically, develop and refine ideas, and work towards solutions, resulted in eleven teams working through the weekend to develop prototypes for applications such as in-park informational beacons, platforms for crowd-sourced trail data, and competitive games for kids. Hosting hackathons like this one is part of the CAP goal strategy of fueling the external open data ecosystem and feedback cycle. In the second quarter of FY15, the number of data views from Data.gov, where this recreation data resides, grew 25% to over 400,000 views.
Lab to Market – This goal aims to help entrepreneurs take federal innovations into the market place. Successfully facilitating their access to federal labs and innovations requires that federal employees understand entrepreneurship. 534 teams who work on federally funded R&D projects have completed immersion courses providing opportunities for experiential entrepreneurship education. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) has successfully completed the I-Corps curriculum geared towards Life Sciences, and the Agriculture Research Service at USDA has begun the I-Corps pilot. The Air Force Office of Scientific Research, Army Research Office, and National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences/NIH are exploring I-Corps partnerships with the National Science Foundation. I-Corps@Ohio, modeled after the NSF I-Corps program, is launching a statewide program to assist faculty and graduate students from Ohio universities and colleges to validate the market potential of their technologies and validate and launch startup companies.
While results to date have been encouraging, delivery across agency boundaries is not easy. In particular there is no established means of funding these cross-agency efforts, which stymies the Federal Government’s ability to quickly and fully address these challenges and deliver results for the American people.
The President’s Budget included a high priority transfer authority proposal, which would provide a total of $15 million in agency-transferred funding to support key implementation activities and accelerate progress on current CAP goals. The House Republican Financial Services and General Government Appropriations bill does not include this transfer authority; as such the bill fails to establish a means of funding the execution of cross-agency efforts on areas critical to the Nation's economy and prosperity. Without such authority, CAP Goal leaders are constrained in their ability to implement effective solutions across agencies, leaving various Federal programs and activities to address shared issues in a duplicative, siloed, and ad hoc way.
The experience of implementing the CAP Goals has reinforced our belief that Government needs to prioritize building the skills and capabilities critical to leading enterprise-wide change. Last week I wrote to my PMC Colleagues and formally launched the pilot year of the new White House Leadership Development (WHLD) Program, which the President announced in an address to SES last December. This is an innovative rotational developmental experience which will create a cadre of high potential senior-level career employees with the skill-sets and networks needed to achieve results in an increasingly complex and cross-organizational environment. In a number of cases I expect that participants in the WHLD Program will work closely with CAP Goal leaders in accelerating implementation and achievement of these ambitious outcomes. Agencies have been asked to nominate candidates by August 3 and the first year-long cohort will begin on October 1. More information on this program is available at PIC.GOV/blog and we encourage individuals to apply.
Beth Cobert is the U.S. Chief Performance Officer and the Deputy Director for Management at the White House Office of Management and Budget.