Managing for Results

Experiences of Selected Credit Programs Gao ID: GGD-98-41 February 19, 1998

The Government Performance and Results Act of 1993 requires federal agencies to set goals, measure performance, and use performance information to improve results. Since the passage of this legislation, many agencies have been preparing for its governmentwide implementation starting in the fall of 1997. In June 1997, GAO concluded that governmentwide implementation would be uneven. (See GAO/GGD-97-109.) That report also briefly discussed the experiences of federal credit programs in developing goals and measures under the Results Act. Federal credit, or loan, programs are generally intended to provide financial assistance to borrowers that the private sector will not serve. This report provides additional information on major credit agencies' efforts to implement the Results Act. It also describes the efforts of the Federal Credit Policy Working Group--an interagency advisory group on credit management policy--to develop common performance measures for credit programs.

GAO noted that: (1) in their efforts to implement GPRA, the five credit programs established goals and performance measures that appeared to be generally related to the programs' intended purposes; (2) if the selected programs collect accurate corresponding data on their actual performance, they should be able to monitor their progress in achieving desired results on those measures and have fiscal year (FY) 1998 baseline data to use in setting future targets for those measures; (3) although the selected programs have established goals, measures, and targets in their efforts to implement GPRA, GAO identified three general challenges the programs have been facing in developing performance information; (4) according to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) and the Working Group, comparing results using common measures across credit programs allows program managers and other decisionmakers to identify best practices among those programs that have the potential for improving other credit programs' performance; (5) two general problems have limited the Working Group's progress in developing common performance measures for credit programs; (6) the Working Group anticipated that agencies that administer credit programs could include common financial and programmatic measures in their annual performance plans and reports under the Results Act; (7) however, OMB does not intend to require credit agencies to adopt common performance measures when consensus about the appropriateness of such measures has not been achieved; (8) GAO agreed that OMB should not force the use of common measures when concerns about their appropriateness exist, but the Working Group had not resolved those concerns and had not decided how and when those concerns would be addressed; (9) thus, it is unclear whether OMB and the credit agencies will maintain their current level of attention to developing common measures; (10) also unclear is the extent to which agencies that administer credit programs will include common measures for those programs in their annual performance plans that could provide useful information to decisionmakers interested in making performance and cost comparisons; and (11) GAO believes the potential benefits that could be realized from developing common performance measures, where appropriate, underscore the importance of OMB and the credit agencies continuing their efforts to develop and reach consensus on such measures.


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