About John Mercer

John Mercer, creator of the Strategisys website, is Director for Government Performance at Capital Novus (Fairfax, VA).  He has over 30 years of high-level experience as a management consultant to U.S. and foreign governments on improving governmental performance and accountability. He is an internationally-recognized expert in governmental strategic planning, performance budgeting and performance management. His clients have included agencies at the U.S. Departments of Agriculture, Defense, Energy, Interior, Labor, Treasury, and Veterans Affairs, as well as the Small Business Administration, USAID, and the Office of the Architect of the Capitol. His international clients have included the Ministry of Finance of the Republic of Indonesia, the Bureau of the Budget of the Government of Thailand, the Ministry of Finance of the Republic of Turkey, and the Office of the Prime Minister of the Royal Government of Bhutan.

Mr. Mercer has been referred to by key members of Congress and many government officials as "the Father of GPRA" for having proposed, initiated and led the development of the Government Performance and Results Act (GPRA) while serving as Counsel to the Senate Governmental Affairs Committee. During his 8 years with the Committee, he was also significantly involved in the development and implementation of several other major reforms of federal agency management, including the Chief Financial Officers Act, the Government Management Reform Act, and the Federal Financial Management Improvement Act. He also had oversight responsibility for the Inspector General Act.

Mr. Mercer is the lead design architect of CASCADE Performance Based Budgeting Software, a performance budgeting/management software for government developed by Capital Novus. He is also the creator of the Cascade Performance Budgeting system for government agencies, and he has been described in the press as being “considered by many a foremost expert on performance-based budgeting.” He began championing this reform in the federal government in the late 1980's, as was noted in a 1993 newspaper article that stated, “Mercer relentlessly plugged ‘performance-based budgeting’ … from practically his first day in Washington.”

Mr. Mercer previously served as Mayor and Councilmember in Sunnyvale, CA, whose internationally famous performance management and budget system was used by him as the inspiration for the Government Performance and Results Act. The White House Office of Management and Budget has stated that Sunnyvale’s system “stands out as the single best example of a comprehensive approach to performance measurement that we have found in the United States. . . One underlying reason for the success in Sunnyvale is the fact that every program manager uses the system to plan, manage, and assess progress on a day-to-day basis.” (OMB testimony to the Senate Governmental Affairs Committee, May 5, 1992) In the President's Budget for FY 2003, Sunnyvale's system of performance budgeting was again cited as being internationally recognized for its effectiveness.

Mr. Mercer continues to be called upon to advise committees of the Congress on governmental performance management issues. For example, in June 2001, he testified on GPRA implementation at a Congressional hearing, where he described his original expectations for GPRA and how much more needed to be done to meet those expectations, including implementation of performance-based budgeting.  In March 2004, he testified at another Congressional hearing on GPRA implementation, where he explained the need for Congress to use the GPRA-related plans and reports to conduct oversight of agencies. He is often used by the press as an expert source on performance-based management and budgeting, and he has been the subject of featured profiles in such publications as the Federal Times, Federal Computer Week, and Government Computer News.  In May 2012, he was appointed to the Federal Accounting Standards Advisory Board's task force on improving the reporting of performance information in federal agency financial reports.

Mr. Mercer has chaired two international conferences in Singapore on strategic planning and performance measurement for South East Asian countries. At the request of the U.S. Information Agency and of the World Bank, he has also conducted sessions on this subject for officials from Asia, Africa, Eastern Europe, and Central America. The Paris-based Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) published his paper on Sunnyvale’s performance management and budgeting system and distributed it to its member governments.

Drawing on his three decades of experience in governmental performance-based management and budgeting, he has made numerous presentations on the subject at conferences and other meetings of federal managers. He is featured in the popular training film “Strategic Planning in Government – Not Business as Usual” (CRM Films), and he has provided GPRA-related training to personnel from dozens of federal agencies.

Mr. Mercer has also served as Deputy Assistant Secretary for Program Policy Development and Evaluation at the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. His 13 years of Capitol Hill experience include 5 years on staff in the U.S. House of Representatives, in addition to his 8 years as Senate Committee Counsel. He has an undergraduate degree in Political Science/Public Administration from San Jose State University and a law degree from the University of Notre Dame.