Why Government Agencies Need to Prove Value by Demonstrating Value

By: Amy DeWolf

In a new Economist Intelligence Unit research report, Proving value in an age of austerity: A new normal for US government programmes, they discuss three steps federal  agencies need to accomplish to prove value and accommodate this new environment, one step being – Demonstrating value.

Demonstrating value is essential to keeping your budget. As the report suggests, the days of Congress approving large, multi-year programs on the promise of ROI are long gone. According to Chris Mihm, Managing Director for Strategic Issues, GAO, "agencies will have to be more able and willing to identify the savings and productivity improvements they produce with a specific investment." To do this, he urges agencies to not over-promise potential savings or exaggerate improvements seen from a project. By reporting on the real data, documenting actual productivity, and presenting the performance improvements that tell “the proper story,” agencies will be able to show tangible improvements to Congress, and most likely maintain their current level of funding. 

Demonstrating value may not be as easy it sounds. As Jon Desenberg, Senior Policy Director for The Performance Institute notes, "demonstrating return on investment requires more than sending reaps of spreadsheets and numbers to Congress." Much like an employee would approach his boss for a promotion, agencies will need to prove value in numbers, show improvement over time, and articulate their ROI clearly and accurately. It may take more preparation than in years past, but it will be worth it in the end. 

Read the full Economist Intelligence Unit research report here.

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