White House Releases ‘Learning Agenda’ Draft for PMA

The White House released a draft of a management-focused learning plan for the President’s Management Agenda (PMA) on Dec. 21 as part of an effort to spark research in key areas and inform policy with evidence.

The administration is also asking for feedback from the public on what questions are being asked.

Eventually, the final product will help “focus leaders’ attention on building the research and evidence needed to solve big problems” and “encourage collaboration and research to close evidence gaps within, beyond, and in partnership with the federal government,” according to the performance.gov page on the new document.

“The draft learning agenda released today, provides a framework for asking the necessary questions needed to make the president’s ambitions a reality,”

said Pam Coleman, associate director for performance management in the Office of Management and Budget, in a statement about the draft agenda.

“We are calling on researchers, public servants, and private citizens for their feedback, expertise, and guidance to build the research and evidence needed to solve the most pressing problems facing the federal government,” 

she continued 

The draft is organized into three priority areas. 

The primary query is, “How can the Federal Government strengthen and empower its workforce, so it can best serve the American people?” The document includes example questions about hiring assessments and workplace flexibilities.

There’s also a section on delivering programs and services effectively, with a focus on reducing administrative burdens and improving customer service. 

Finally, the draft has a section of questions about how the federal government can “advance equity” and “support underserved communities.”

Learning agendas have roots in the Policymaking Act of 2018, which required agencies to develop evidence-building plans to guide research and evaluation, according to the IBM Center for the Business of Government. 

Agencies are currently working on their own agency-specific learning agendas, as part of the implementation of that law, to be published in early 2022.

But this is the first learning agenda draft released for a PMA, and it’s supposed to be cross-cutting across agencies. The hope is that it can also catalyze innovation even beyond the federal government into state, local and other governments. 

Public feedback is being accepted through Jan. 31, 2022. 

Specifically, the draft agenda seeks input from those working in the federal government and those in the state, local and Tribal governments, research institutions, philanthropies, and community organizations.