OMB rescinds more policies, continues ‘burden reduction’ efforts

The Office of Management and Budget is continuing its push to eliminate unnecessary and outdated policies by requiring agencies to regularly review their management guidance and by further rescinding obsolete requirements.

OMB’s latest memo, released Monday, is part of the government’s goal to shift from “low-value work,” which consists of meeting “hundreds of burdensome rules and requirements [that] have built up over the decades” to “high-value work” that is more meaningful to the agency’s mission, says Performance.gov, the government website that tracks the White House agenda.

The memo requires all agencies to “identify opportunities to streamline operations and reduce burden on their components,” as they regularly review their own management guidance.

As part of that effort, the memo requires each agency to designate a point of contact to coordinate the agency’s “burden-reduction initiatives.”

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Additionally, agencies must develop and implement reforms to eliminate obsolete requirements and reduce the cost of mission-support operations. The memo suggests consolidating processes, using shared services or introducing new technologies like robotics process automation.

Agencies will provide semi-annual reports on savings, alternative methods used and when cost savings are not feasible.

The memo also makes a handful of changes to the Office of Personnel Management, the General Services Administration and other central management offices to free agencies from “unnecessary burden.”

For instance, the guidance streamlines the qualification review board process for the Senior Executive Service,

“The burden and delays [of the process] deter senior executives from entering public service, hampering the federal longer-term recruitment process. OPM will develop a proof of concept for one or more new alternative assessment methods,” the memo stated.

The administration hopes to roll out the new process by the second quarter of 2019.

GSA will only collect a subset of the data it obtained from agencies in previous years for its benchmarking initiative aimed at collecting governmentwide cost and efficiency metrics to improve decision-making and drive change.  The memo states the lower data collection requirement will give GSA time to conduct analysis of the data already collected.

GSA’s Office of Governmentwide Policy also consolidated some reporting statistics tools made for reporting government-owned vehicle data and reporting travel.

In the procurement realm, OMB is identifying areas where resources are expended performing repetitive tasks that require little or no decision making and shifting them to automation. OMB and GSA also collaborated to create a central capability for contractors to report post-award data required under the Federal Acquisition Regulation.

OMB updated its guidance on financial management as well. The change gives agencies more flexibility over financial reporting while also “maintaining reasonable assurances of data quality related to achieving agency reporting objectives,” the memo stated.

Finally, the memo rescinds 45 memos issued between 2005 and 2015 regarding acquisition, financial management and information technology.

The cancellation of the policies is a continuation of memo recensions from last year, when OMB got rid of 50 policies on data reporting and modified none.

“Our first phase release of what we’ve been calling reducing the burden. Reducing the burden means OMB has been looking at over 250 management directives that we’ve issued to see which ones are duplicative, obsolete, redundant or just low value,” said Linda Springer, a senior adviser at OMB during a press briefing on June 15, 2017. “This is something we’ve required ourselves to do as part of the broader reorganization and assessment of what we are doing. OMB is not exempt. So this is really our first part.”

The policies OMB got rid of include memos that were incorporated into law, have been superseded by other memos or are outdated.