Implementing the Presidential Memorandum “Administrative Flexibility, Lower Costs, and Better Results for State, Local, and Tribal Governments”

June 30, 2011 § Leave a comment

In February 2011, President Obama issued the President Memorandum “Administrative Flexibility, Lower Costs, and Better Results for State, Local, and Tribal Governments,” which authorizes agencies to work closely with state, local, and tribal governments to identify and reduce administrative, regulatory, and legislative burdens for federally funded programs. The Presidential Memorandum tasks OMB with collaborating with federal agencies and state, local and tribal governments to foster flexibility in the administration of these programs. OMB issued its latest guidance in response to the Presidential Memorandum, incorporating feedback from these and other associated stakeholders. A key element of the Presidential Memorandum is a request for federal agencies to report to OMB on actions taken and future plans regarding administrative flexibility and outlines the following objectives to serve as guidance to agency plans:

  • Establish better processes for cross-agency and cross-government collaboration
  • Clearly define program outcomes
  • Focus on high impact areas
  • Increase transparency
  • Facilitate use of robust and authoritative data
  • Eliminate duplicative and unnecessary reporting
  • Identify other barriers to cost-effectiveness
  • Mitigate the risks of removing barriers

In response to the Presidential Memorandum, Office of Management and Budget (OMB) issued Memorandum M-11-21: Implementing the Presidential Memorandum “Administrative Flexibility, Lower Costs, and Better Results for State, Local, and Tribal Governments” in April 2011. The guidance focuses on the actions OMB and federal agencies will take to coordinate with state, local, and tribal governments to reduce administrative burdens around grants payments.

Through an interagency work group, OMB will review circular policies, such as auditing requirements, to enable greater performance and efficiency. It will also continue to identify government-wide and cross-agency areas that would benefit from unified planning and standardization. Finally, OMB plans to initiate a separate work group tasked with exploring viable options under current law to support “Pay for Success” proposals requested by state, local, and tribal governments. “Pay for Success” proposals are initiatives in which the federal government partners with private investors to fund programs for the outcomes they have reached as opposed to issuing reimbursements through the life of a grant. Private partners would provide the initial money while the federal government would provide funding as long as a program meets its goals.

Specific provisions for agencies include reporting the name and contact information of the senior lead official coordinating the agency response. In addition, prior to June 1, 2011, agencies were expected to contact their Program Associate Director at OMB to discuss the following:

  • Approach to consult with stakeholders and respond to the Presidential Memorandum
  • High impact programs and policy areas to include cross-agency issues
  • Immediate actions to improve flexibility
  • Recommendations on how OMB may facilitate cross-agency cooperation in high impact areas

These conversations should take place based on input from state, local, and tribal partners. Agencies are encouraged to continue consulting with OMB as they examine various options for improving administrative flexibility. A template has been attached to the guidance for agencies to use when reporting their actions and recommendations to OMB by August 29th, 2011. A list of frequently asked questions garnered throughout OMB’s collaboration with stakeholders has also been attached for further clarification on this latest guidance.

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