Building a Results-Oriented Performance Culture in the Public Sector


by Evan Piekara

Washington, DC, USA


Building a more results-driven performance culture is challenging in any domain. The obstacles to developing this culture in the public sector requires close communication to ensure strategic alignment, as well as rigorous planning and analysis. Additionally, establishing a more results-driven culture requires coordinating with many stakeholders with distinct needs and priorities to invest them in the process and gain their insights. This article addresses how to cascade priorities from the top into Performance Work Plans (PWPs) and how to use a sound methodology and communication to aid in transforming an organization’s culture.

Building a Results-Oriented Performance Culture in the Public Sector

The common critiques of the public sector culture – inefficient, bureaucratic, personality-driven, lacking creativity – are often unfair, exaggerated, and can be mitigated to provide essential services and meet mission critical goals. While changing culture is inherently one of the greatest, and most time-consuming challenges any project manager will face, identifying and incorporating the right stakeholders, following a sound methodology fueled by the right analytical components, and developing strong communications materials that supports strategic alignment will aid in developing a more results-oriented performance culture in the public sector.

Defining a Results-Oriented Performance Culture

The Office of Personnel Management (OPM) defines a results-oriented performance culture as “A system that promotes a diverse, high-performing workforce by implementing and maintaining effective performance management systems and awards programs.” OPM identifies key elements of success in shifting culture as communication, performance appraisals, awards, pay-to-performance, diversity management, and labor management relations. This shift starts with defining the results and work people must do to become successful. A Government Accountability Office (GAO) report found that the vast majority of high-performing United States public sector organizations have built a results-oriented culture by establishing clear linkages and oversight between the employees and organizational goals. This report established nine guiding principles to lay the foundation for a more results-oriented culture.


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Editor’s note: Second Editions are previously published papers that have continued relevance in today’s project management world, or which were originally published in conference proceedings or in a language other than English. Original publication acknowledged; authors retain copyright. This paper was originally presented at the 2nd annual University of Maryland Project Management Symposium in College Park, Maryland, USA in June 2015. It is republished here with the permission of the authors and conference organizers.



About the Author


Epmwj39-Oct2015-Piekara-PHOTOvan Piekara

Washington, DC, USA




Evan Piekara PMP, CMS, is a Manager at BDO USA LLP and an MBA Graduate from Georgetown’s McDonough School of Business. Evan has supported BDO in the launch of its Public Sector Consulting Practice. He has supported public sector clients in transformational efforts involving change management, strategic planning, performance management and evaluation and requirements gathering. Evan can be contacted at [email protected].