For more than two millennia, since before Sun Tzu wrote The Art of War, folks have been planning strategically. While some things haven’t changed, to fight the war on preventable casualties on recreational vessels, we’ve evolved and employ modern guidance for developing strategic plans. Here are the main three tools the federal government has employed in recent years:
- Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Circular NO. A-11, Part 6
This document provides guidance for agencies’ strategic planning efforts. Specifically, it prescribes methods to establish clear roles and responsibilities, set ambitious goals, conduct regular reviews of progress, and take action based on evidence and opportunities to communicated and collaborate more effectively with one another. It also offers definitions of terms related to strategic planning. This document is serving as a key reference for development of the next iteration of the Strategic Plan of the National Recreational Boating Safety Program – 2017-2021, which is currently underway.
- The Government Performance Results Act (GPRA)
GPRA was established to require agencies to develop performance plans that include quantifiable and measurable performance goals for accomplishing major program activities. In the 2000 GPRA review of the National Recreational Boating Safety Program, questions were raised about the accuracy of baseline data, clarity of definitions, and sharing of best practices. Through the collaborative effort to develop and improve Performance Report Part II, the evolution of the National Boating Education Standards, and development and publication of key model acts, the states and NASBLA have helped the program respond to all of these questions. The Strategic Plan is the tool that contains the measurements, goals, and the strategies to achieve them.
Editor’s Note: The states and the Coast Guard use the Performance Report Part II (PRPII) form as the primary method to capture recreational boating data. All 56 states and territories are required to submit this form to the Coast Guard annually.
National Boating Education Standards: http://www.nasbla.org/content.asp?contentid=324
Model Acts: http://www.nasbla.org/content.asp?admin=Y&contentid=164
- The Performance Assessment Rating Tool (PART)
The PART was established by OMB under the George W. Bush administration to rate federal agencies on their effectiveness. While PART has been tabled under the Obama administration, in the Coast Guard’s 2005 PART review, auditors provided several recommendations, including:
The Coast Guard should work with the states to improve data collection under the Boating Accident Report Database (BARD). Thanks to the partnership with the states and now-established checks and balances, reports of fatalities are approximately 100%.
The Coast Guard should ‘normalize’ casualty data, not just consider deaths and injuries in a vacuum. The Coast Guard’s National Boating Survey will continue to provide the data necessary to compare the number of deaths and injuries to the number of hours boaters spend on the water (exposure). The survey is a critical tool toward measuring our success over time. Without the survey, it is difficult, if not impossible to measure progress.
The Coast Guard should develop long-term performance measures that meaningfully reflect the purpose of the program. Thanks to the collaboration from our partners, the Strategic Plan contains such measurements. While we need to continue to evolve the specifics of what and how we measure our efforts, we’ve made significant progress toward quantifying the objectives in the Plan. The next iteration of the Plan will have even more specificity.
We’d especially like to thank the past and present BLAs for their smart work over the years on the Strategic Plan:
- Herb Angell, Nebraska
- Scott Brewen, Oregon
- Alfonso Campos, Texas
- Ed Carter, Tennessee
- Pam Dillon, Ohio
- Randy Edwards, Iowa
- John Fetterman, Maine
- Richard Moore, Florida
- Ray Tsuneyoshi, California
- A special thanks to Fred Messmann, Nevada, who has led the Strategic Plan into its third iteration. Fred has been the glue that held the Plan together over many challenging hurdles. And he has always been able to keep the team moving no matter the circumstances.
- Also, thanks to Ron Sarver, NASBLA Executive Deputy Director, for all he has done for Operation Dry Water and for the Strategic Plan. We can always count on Ron for ideas, solutions, and support.