The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) established an Operational Management Review (OMR) process in 2009. The OMR process, overseen by the Enterprise Program Management Office within the Office of Policy and Planning is used by VA to monitor 16 major initiatives (MIs) that are intended to transform the Department into a high-performing, 21st century organization focused on the Nation’s Veterans and their families, while maximizing value and efficiency. The OMR process is chaired by the Deputy Secretary of VA (DEPSECVA). In addition to monitoring program and project level metrics and measures, the process supports the continuous evaluation of higher level objectives including the Agency’s Priority Goals (APGs).
The OMR process and meetings ensure that cost, schedule, and performance targets are being met; and corrective actions are taken when necessary. MI performance reporting through the OMR process is fully transparent within VA and is incorporated into VA agency-wide reporting mechanisms, including the Department-level Monthly Performance Review meetings (MPRs) to ensure integration with broader agency reporting and to monitor progress in meeting the annual performance targets.
The OMR process features senior leadership involvement in all aspects of planning, monitoring, and control. The process starts with assigning responsibility for initiative success to an Executive Sponsor (Assistant Secretary or Under Secretary) and the MI Lead, a Senior Executive, who are jointly accountable to the DEPSECVA and responsible for delivery of results in a “Two in a Box” governance model. Executive Sponsors and MI Leads are required to develop an Operating Plan that identifies the work to be performed, develop an integrated schedule, define internal and external resource requirements, and associated performance measures. Concurrence from the Executive Sponsor and approval by the DEPSECVA is required on all operating plans. Additionally, beginning in FY11, performance ratings for all VA Senior Executives is based on support to accomplishment of the MI objectives.
The OMR process was recognized as a best practice by the Government Accountability Office in report, GAO-11-908, Streamlining Government. GAO noted the following Key practices and how the OMR implemented the best practices:
Key Practice: “Build capacity for improving efficiency”
How the OMR implemented the best practices: Identified and shared performance trends and best practices during regular sessions that involved headquarters and regional leaders of major operations and programs.
Key Practice: Use change management practices to implement and sustain efficiency initiatives”:
- Ensure top leadership drives the transformation
- Dedicate an implementation team to manage the transformation process
- Set implementation goals and a time line to build momentum and show progress from day one
- Involve employees to obtain their ideas and gain their ownership of the transformation
How the OMR implemented the best practices: Identified and shared performance trends and best practices during regular sessions that involved headquarters and regional leaders of major operations and programs
The OMR process promotes collaboration across VA Administrations and supporting organizations in providing the required resources, information technology, and procurement support. As the DEPSECVA’s agent for MI oversight and management, the Enterprise Program Management Office (ePMO) facilitates problem solving and ensures effective synchronization of interdependent efforts affecting MI performance. ePMO exercises authority to “lockdown” functional business owners and information technology, and procurement organizations to address behind-plan award of procurement actions. In FY10, 11, and 12 “lockdowns” were held to complete procurement actions necessary to support continued milestone achievement for the MI’s. As an example, in FY11, the 2QFY11 report illustrated a significant contract award shortfall. VA had obligated less than one third of planned funding for critical information technology projects, and more than one third of the projects were not ready to be awarded. To address procurement shortfalls the ePMO worked with the VA’s procurement, information technology organizations and the major initiative teams to ensure IT procurement packages would be ready for on-time awards. The lockdown resulted in the on-time initiation of critical support work, to include the award of over $600M in Information Technology contracts.
Collaboration has also been enhanced by expanding participation in the budget resource allocation of the IT budget to more parties, enhancing transparency and visibility. ePMO developed the IT project prioritization process for all MI projects as an OMR function. This process was so successful, that it was adopted by OI&T for application in all IT project and budget prioritization activities.