Document Type

Research Report

Publication Date



Two simple tools—goals and measurement—are among the most powerful leadership mechanisms available to a President for influencing the vast scope of federal agencies. Goals and measurement are useless, however, unless used. They must be used not just to comply with mandated reporting requirements, but to communicate priorities and problems, to motivate through attention and feedback, and to illuminate where, when, and why performance changes. The President and his leadership team must focus their discussions to deliver results around specific goals and discuss progress and problems relative to them. Otherwise, the goals agencies articulate in written plans are likely to be pushed aside and forgotten in the unending press of daily crises.

This report examines the evolution of the development and use of goals and measures over the past two presidential administrations and offers insights and recommendations to the incoming Obama administration. these insights and recommendations are based on extensive interviews with key stakeholders in agencies, Congress, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), and outside groups. It also draws on the government experience of the author as well as studies of federal performance trends by the Government Accountability Office, academics, and think tanks.


Part of the IBM Center for the Business of Government's Presidential Transition Series.


IBM Center for the Business of Government



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