Progress under the PMA Supports COVID Response Efforts

Published: July 08, 2020

Federal Market AnalysisAcquisition ReformCoronavirus (COVID-19) PandemicGovernment PerformanceInformation Technology

OMB issues first and second quarter progress updates of 2020 for the President’s Management Agenda; an instrumental framework in federal rapid response efforts to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Key Takeaways:

  • Progress updates for Cross-Agency and Agency Priority Goals during the first and second quarters of 2020 reveal achievements across the President Management Agenda’s initiatives in areas such as IT modernization and data transparency.
  • Principles of the President’s Management Agenda helped accelerate government response to the COVID-19 pandemic in areas of digitization, remote collaboration and data sharing.
  • The progress update introduces a new Cross-Agency Goal, Frictionless Acquisition, to focus government efforts on quick delivery and a strengthened contracting base.

Earlier this week, OMB published progress updates for the President’s Management Agenda (PMA), outlining growth in both Cross-Agency Priority (CAP) Goals and Agency Priority Goals (APG) in the first two quarters of 2020.

Released in March 2018, the Trump Administration’s PMA, “lays out a long-term vision for modernizing the Federal Government in key areas that will improve the ability of agencies to deliver mission outcomes, provide excellent service, and effectively steward taxpayer dollars on behalf of the American people,” according to

Within the PMA, the CAP goals serve as the framework’s drivers of implementation to confront various cross-agency challenges. The 13 CAP goals fall across all four categories of the PMA: Key Drivers of Transformation, Cross-Cutting Priority Areas, Functional Priority Areas and Mission Priority Areas:

  • IT Modernization
  • Data, accountability, and transparency
  • The Workforce for the 21st Century
  • Improving Customer Experience
  • Sharing Quality Services
  • Shifting From Low-Value to High-Value Work
  • Category Management
  • Results-Oriented Accountability for Grants
  • Getting Payments Right
  • Federal IT Spending Transparency
  • Modernize Infrastructure Permitting
  • Security Clearance, Suitability, and Credentialing Reform

PMA Impact on Federal COVID Response

The onset of the COVID-19 pandemic required a large number of federal employees and government services to take place in remote environments. Elements of the PMA aided this transition, helping maximize agency use of digital technologies to continue meeting federal mission and customer service expectations.

For instance, the PMA touts the Federal Data Strategy, which pushes government in effective and strategic utilization of data. The strategy’s call for agencies to improve management, use and interoperability of data came into play as the pandemic required agencies to distribute funds to boost the economy, collaborate with industry in scientific research efforts for the disease, provide continuous, clear-cut statistics on the virus, and gain insight into the nation’s intricate supply chain system.  

Moreover, collaboration tools such as virtual platforms, digital signatures and cloud-based email were all part of the PMA two years prior to their extensive use during COVID-19.

According to Federal CIO, Suzette Kent, the PMA allowed agency rapid response to COVID-19 in initiatives such as, “data-sharing protocols and clarity of defining cross-agency questions, digital acceleration and expansion, and digital capabilities across paper-based processes.”

CAP Goal Progress

The progress report announced the maturity of three CAP goals, which will shift their focus from planning to demonstrating achievement: Modernizing the Infrastructure Permitting Process, Getting Payments Right and Security Clearance, Suitability, and Credentialing Reform. provides an individual update for each PMA CAP goal, including 2017-2019 successes and 2020 summary of progress. For instance, the IT Modernization CAP goal identifies successes in implementing key cybersecurity capabilities and addressing ongoing threats and vulnerabilities, particularly in managed asset security, limiting personnel access, and protecting networks and data. .

The progress update also makes shifts to the CAP goal structure. The Federal IT Spending Transparency CAP Goal will be divided among the IT Modernization; Data, Accountability and Transparency; and Category Management CAP Goals. Moreover, the report announces the formation of a new CAP goal, the Frictionless Acquisition CAP Goal, which seeks to modernize the acquisition process through three primary methods:  

  1. Business models and practices that focus on reduced acquisition lead-times, increased customer self-service, and trusted partnerships with both small and large business contractors
  2. A “hi-definition” acquisition information environment that supports the modernized collection, analysis, availability, and visualization of acquisition data for smarter and faster mission decision-making
  3. A vision for the workforce of tomorrow where acquisition professionals leverage technological advances to deliver the best customer service and mission support

Each CAP goal’s progress update contains key milestone due dates, allowing insight into the future goals and initiatives under the PMA. The COVID-19 pandemic accelerated many of the pilots and original keystone milestones for those critical initiatives needed promptly for the response, while longer-term roadmap items unrelated to the pandemic have shifted dates. Thus, it is pertinent that contractors remain abreast of the progress updates, particularly those CAP goals related to their wheelhouse, to identify the status, direction and focus of federal government operations as mandated by the PMA.