Managing for Results

Continuing Challenges to Effective GPRA Implementation Gao ID: T-GGD-00-178 July 20, 2000

The challenges to implementing the Government Performance and Results Act are many. Each agency must focus on the results it wants to achieve, not the products it produces and the process used to produce them. Agencies must coordinate crosscutting programs, thereby reducing mission fragmentation and program overlap. For example, eight federal agencies now run 50 programs for the homeless. Agencies are to show relationships between budgetary resources and performance goals. They must also show how daily operations lead to results. Most fiscal year 2000 performance plans do not sufficiently address how to strategically manage their people (human capital). The systematic integration of human capital planning and program planning--a critical component of high-performing organizations--is not being adequately and uniformly addressed across the federal government. Agencies are also to resolve all mission-critical management challenges and program risks, not just some of them. Agencies need reliable information during their planning efforts to set realistic goals and, later, to gauge their progress toward achieving these goals. For example, program evaluation provides vital information about the contributions that programs have made to results. Agencies must accurately record and report financial management data on both a year-end and ongoing basis. It is imperative to continuously improve internal controls and underlying financial management information systems.

GAO noted that: (1) GPRA holds great promise in helping Congress and the executive branch ensure that the federal government provides the results that the American people expect and deserve; (2) concerted and continuing congressional oversight is key to addressing the federal government's persistent performance, management, and accountability problems; (3) in recent testimonies, the Comptroller General has suggested that the significant performance problems in federal programs and agencies can be organized around four broad themes: (a) reassessing what the federal government does and how it does it; (b) reexamining and redefining the beneficiaries of federal programs; (c) improving economy, efficiency, and effectiveness of federal operations; and (d) attacking activities at risk of fraud, waste, abuse, and mismanagement; (4) GPRA's concepts, practices, and products provide tools that Congress can use to help its decisionmaking and strengthen its oversight, thereby helping to resolve these issues; (5) Congress can have a central role in building GPRA into the congressional oversight process; (6) House Rule X requires standing committees of the House to provide oversight plans to the Committee on Government Reform; (7) these oversight plans are then published by the Committee along with its recommendations for ensuring the most effective coordination of such plans; (8) the new information now available from agencies' first annual performance reports, along with information being developed under other management reforms such as the Chief Financial Officers Act, can provide new opportunities for congressional oversight that House committees can consider as they develop their oversight plans; (9) a second opportunity is to look across House committees and lead the development of integrated oversight agenda that target areas of congressional emphasis; (10) specifically, information from annual performance report, by focusing on the results to be achieved, should suggest program areas and agencies that cut across individual committee jurisdictions, and that would benefit from more coordinated oversight; (11) the House Government Reform Committee could play a central role in coordinating oversight hearings related to how different governing tools will be, or can be, used in achieving goals; and (12) such oversight could assist in the development of a base of governmentwide information on the strengths and weaknesses of various tools used to address differing public policy issues.

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