ACF Strategic Initiatives - Introduction
We all know that when we are clear about where we are going, we are much more likely to get there. Given the enormity of our responsibilities as an agency – leading dozens of key human services programs on which our nation’s families depend – it’s particularly critical that we’ve made those decisions about where we are going. That’s why we’ve been working so steadily over the last four months to develop a strategic initiatives plan for the Administration for Children and Families.
A good strategic plan outlines the goals and direction of work for the next three to five years. It’s a critical planning tool for any government agency, and an accountability tool for the executive and legislative branches that fund our work. A well-prepared plan includes input from a variety of stakeholders and allows the agency’s leaders and staff to chart its course and assess future personnel, equipment, facility, and fiscal needs. An effective plan also includes an on-going performance monitoring component, which holds assigned agency members accountable for their contribution to the accomplishment of specific objectives and, ultimately, the mission of the agency.
Under Federal law, each cabinet agency develops a strategic plan. HHS’s 2010-2015 Strategic Plan states that the Department’s mission is to enhance the health and well-being of Americans by providing for effective health and human services and by fostering sound, sustained advances in the sciences underlying medicine, public health, and social services. HHS’s Strategic Plan includes five goals broadly encompassing the work of all 11 operating divisions of the Department and is, of necessity, selective in its coverage of ACF activities and programs.
ACF also develops an annual performance plan and report as a required part of the annual budget process. This plan and report include quantitative performance measures related to ACF’s programs and typically capture outcomes of ACF’s activities. For example, one measure is to increase the health of Head Start children. Data for these measures are often available only after a considerable lag, so they are more useful for accountability than for management purposes.
Within this broader federal effort, it is essential that we at the Administration for Children and Families further refine our direction through this Strategic Initiatives Plan. This plan should be viewed as a document that complements HHS’s formal Strategic Plan, making clear the issues and programs to which we are committed over the next several years. This ACF Strategic Initiatives Plan cascades from the HHS Strategic Goals, provides additional detail, and articulates ACF’s priorities, strategies, and specific objectives within this broader context.
I am proud of the process we’ve used to develop this document. Senior ACF Leadership were involved as we drafted the Vision, Mission, and Values statements and examined the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats facing us as an organization in the foreseeable future. Additional members of the ACF leadership team joined with us to identify our major goals and to determine the strategies and objectives we would utilize to accomplish them. Finally, every employee of the Administration for Children and Families had the opportunity to access the draft Strategic Initiatives Plan and provide their feedback. I know that this final document is stronger because of the engagement of so many of our talented personnel.
As you will see, during this process, we have clarified ACF’s Vision, Mission, and Values, statements upon which we can and should look with pride. The plan’s goals, strategies, and objectives each contribute to meeting that Vision and Mission, and--conducted within the Values we have identified--allow us to ensure that the Administration for Children and Families functions as a values-based, performance-driven organization.
As we work to accomplish our objectives, we will continue to involve a broad group of internal and external stakeholders to develop specific tasks, performance indicators, and milestones that will allow us to gauge our success. I look forward to developing an on-going report card that will allow all interested parties to view our progress and celebrate our successes.
I am excited about what we’re doing together. This Strategic Initiatives Plan adds further focus to our efforts--and gives us a more detailed roadmap to take us toward our ultimate vision of ensuring that America’s children, youth, families, individuals, and communities are resilient, safe, healthy, and economically secure. I look forward to taking this journey with you!
George H. Sheldon
Acting Assistant Secretary
Administration for Children and Families
Department of Health and Human Services