Reinventing Government

Status of NPR Recommendations at 10 Federal Agencies Gao ID: GGD-00-145 September 21, 2000

As it seeks to "reinvent itself," the federal government confronts the challenge of effectively addressing several emerging issues, including the impact of globalization, technological innovations, demographic shifts, and changing security threats in a post-Cold War world. This report discusses: (1) the factors influencing the reform efforts of the National Partnership for Reinventing Government (NPR), (2) the status of efforts by 10 agencies to implement the NPR's recommendations, and (3) the results that the 10 agencies achieved by implementing those recommendations. GAO found that the effects of NPR cannot be isolated from those of other reform efforts to improve government performance. The 10 agencies believed that almost 90 percent of the 72 recommendations GAO reviewed were either fully or partially implemented.

GAO noted that: (1) reflecting the widespread interest in reforming government to improve effectiveness and service quality while limiting costs, the administration, Congress, and federal agencies have undertaken a number of important ambitious, and largely consistent reforms in the last decade; (2) as the administration's core effort to reform the federal government during most of the last decade, NPR was one of a number of catalysts that stimulated agencies to become more effective and efficient; (3) at the same time, Congress has put in place a statutory framework intended to improve federal program effectiveness and public accountability by instilling a performance-based approach into the management of federal agencies; (4) NPR endorsed prior and existing management reforms and operated in an atmosphere in which other factors, such as agencies' ongoing efforts and congressional actions, also influenced the steps taken to address NPR's recommendations; (5) as a result, NPR's effects cannot be isolated from other reform efforts that also contributed to improved government performance; (6) of the 72 NPR recommendations covered in GAO's review, the 10 selected agencies considered almost 90 percent of them to be either fully or partially implemented; (7) the agencies characterized 33 of the 72 recommendations as fully implemented, such as the recommendation to authorize federal tax payment by credit card; (8) the agencies also considered another 30 recommendations as partially implemented because the recommended actions could not be done all at once and required time to complete them; (9) in several instances the agencies indicated that they would continue their efforts related to the recommendations, even when they considered the recommendation to be fully implemented; (10) the remaining nine recommendations included eight where agencies had taken some action and one where no action had been taken; (11) the agencies reported a wide range of effects, the vast majority of which were positive, in relation to their efforts to implement NPR's recommendations; (12) agencies had some measures for over one-half of the 54 recommendations where they had identified related effects; (13) GAO grouped the positive effects agencies reported into five categories: (a) enhanced revenue or reduced costs; (b) improved customer service; (c) improved efficiency, effectiveness, or mission accomplishment; (d) improved agency processes; and (e) enhanced stewardship or reduced waste, fraud, and abuse; and (14) GAO's review of NPR's reforms suggests that successful reform is an ongoing process and challenges will continue to present themselves.

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