With Peter Orszag leaving OMB last Friday and Jacob Lew yet to be sworn in, Jeff Zients has been called in to fill the gap as acting director of OMB. Zients currently serves as Chief Performance Officer of the Federal Government, the first person ever to hold that position.
Naturally, his first blog post on OMB's website focused on program performance evaluations. His post linked to a memo written to agencies by OMB on Thursday (when Orszag was still director), directing them on how to conduct voluntary program evaluations that OMB has set aside some money for. As Zients said, "Running rigorous evaluations takes money, but investments in rigorous evaluations are a drop in the bucket relative to the dollars at risk of being poorly spent when we fail to learn what works and what doesn’t."
While his tenure may be very short, we hope that his emphasis on program evaluation is taken to heart by the next OMB director. This emphasis on program efficacy, combined with an eye towards what our priorities are, can be very useful as the government shifts from stimulus to cutting back over the next few years.
Welcome to OMB, Jeff, even if it's only for a short time.