OMB Directive M-17-22: New Clock Tickin’ PLUS Earlier Deadlines

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By on April 18, 2017 in Agency News with 0 Comments

Last week, I wrote an article about the September deadline set by the Administration in Executive Order 13781 for an Agency by Agency Plan to reform and restructure the Federal government. That order was followed by OMB Directive M-17-22 providing more detail and shorter deadlines for Agency submissions.

According to the directive:

By June 30, 2017, agencies will provide OMB:

  1. A high-level draft of their Agency
  2. Progress on near-term workforce reduction actions; and
  3. A plan to maximize employee performance.

OMB, if you didn’t know is the Office of Management and Budget. According to its website, the Agency’s mission “is to assist the President in meeting his policy, budget, management and regulatory objectives and to fulfill the agency’s statutory responsibilities.”

Mick Mulvaney, OMB’s Director, certainly surprised a number of long-time DC watchers, players and workers who did not expect as tight and savvy a series of instructions from an OMB Director who, while possessing considerable legislative and very high academic credentials, had never before operated within the Executive Branch.

OMB Director Mick Mulvaney

OMB Director Mick Mulvaney

For a real change, OMB has even initiated a webpage asking the public for specific input on which Agencies should be reformed, reorganized, or eliminated. Say your piece, it’s a rare opportunity for direct input.

Using a word not often seen in government, OMB’s directive required immediate action:

All Agencies, in consultation with OMB, will identify and begin taking actions, including developing:

  1. A plan to maximize employee performance and
  2. An Agency Reform Plan.

Further defining the post June 30 requirements, the directive requires reform plan meetings in July of this year as follows:

To frame the discussion, agencies should provide a high-level draft strategic plan (i.e., draft strategic goals and objectives areas). Agencies should consult with OMB Resource Management Offices (RMOs) on the necessary level of detail to appropriately frame the Reform Plan meetings, and agencies may discuss with OMB an alternate submission timeline of the draft strategic plan where needed (additional detail available on the MAX site). Following the release of this memorandum, OMB may also provide agency-specific guidance on areas agencies should be prepared to discuss in July. OMB will also coordinate public input as required by the Reorganization EO and share the public feedback with agencies as appropriate for their consideration.

OMB provided a number of supporting documents on the MAX website. Sorry, you can only get in if you have a .gov or .mil or similar email address. FedSmith was able to get copies of the nine appendices and they appear below.

Don’t Wait for OMB

According to Appendix 1, on June 30, 2017, Agencies are directed to:

Submit to OMB RMO and OMB Office of Performance and Personnel Management (PPM):

  1. Preliminary areas for Agency Reform Plan
  2. Progress on near-term actions to reduce the size of the civilian Federal workforce
  3. Plan for maximizing employee performance
  4. High-level draft strategic plan (draft strategic goals and objective areas)
  5. Potential near-term/immediate actions

What Will a Plan Look Like?

Appendix 4 allows agencies to organize the plan by bureaus/components, legislative vs. executive action or other system but each plan must include:

  1. Proposals in one or more of the following four categories (additional detail in the following section):
    1. Eliminate activities
    2. Restructure or merge activities
    3. Improve organizational efficiency and effectiveness
    4. Workforce management: Improve performance, increase accountability, and reduce costs/size (must be included in all plans)
  2. For each proposal, the following information:
    • What: Short explanation of the existing issue and rationale for the proposed change (1-4 paragraphs)
    • Why: Projected outcomes, both positive and negative, and affected stakeholders (including other agencies when applicable); cite evidence and evaluations where available (1-3 paragraphs)
    • How: Implementation timeline and risks, including administrative challenges; capacity needed for implementation; and any impacts on personnel, physical assets, and other agencies where applicable (1-3 paragraphs)
    • Costs & Savings: Projected implementation costs, savings and/or cost avoidance over five years, as well as ten years where feasible
    • Statutory, Regulatory, and Administrative Analysis: Agencies shall consult with their General Counsels and provide an analysis of the underlying statutory, regulatory, and other legal authorities at issue, litigation risk, and whether the proposal requires legislation or can be done administratively. If the proposal requires legislation, agencies should note if the legislative change would be necessary in appropriations language or in authorization language.
    • Performance Goals: At least one indicator the agency can use to track the proposal, along with a target and implementation date.

There’s a lot of information in the Directive and its appendices. Appendix 8, for example, lists five success stories that OMB wants agencies to emulate. A number of references are made to CXO Councils which you may study up on at the link to GSA’s website identifying all of them except the CHCOs (Chief Human Capital Officers). The website for CHCO Council is at chcoc.gov. The CHCOs have a full council meeting on May 9. Should be a fun meeting for attendees.

I think the Directive and its appendices are a must read for every Federal executive, contractor, union, employee, media person and everyone who wants to see what government’s future might hold.

If you read my articles, you know I look for appropriate quotes to catch the flavor of the issue in an article. I can’t help but see the coming months reflected by a quote from that great philosopher and other things, Jerry Lee Lewis, who said it so well, “we ain’t fakin, whole lotta shakin goin on.”

Any opinion you read above is mine only and does not reflect that of FedSmith, any client, my employer, or other person I know. If you need to get in touch, use the email form on my FedSmith author’s webpage.

FYI, the Senior Executive Association is working to get helpful information out to Federal executives. If you’re not a member, consider it. In any case, take a look at their website. SEA’s President, Bill Valdez, currently has a statement on OMB’s directive on its first page.

OMB Directive M-17-22 Appendices

© 2017 Bob Gilson. All rights reserved. This article may not be reproduced without express written consent from Bob Gilson.

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About the Author

Bob Gilson is a consultant with a specialty in working with and training Federal agencies to resolve employee problems at all levels. A retired agency labor and employee relations director, Bob has authored or co-authored a number of books dealing with Federal issues and also conducts training seminars.

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