H.R. 3116, a Bill for Federal Cost Reduction and Productivity ImprovementGao ID: 115644 June 2, 1981
GAO agrees with the purpose of H.R. 3116, to reduce Government cost and improve service through increased productivity. Past GAO reviews have found five major problems: (1) no continuing focal point to lead Federal productivity and cost reduction efforts; (2) a lack of action directed toward overcoming the barriers to improving productivity; (3) little effort aimed at developing, using, and refining performance measures; (4) performance measures which do exist have not been fully used for the management functions of performance appraisal and budgeting; and (5) a stop and go emphasis on productivity improvement as top Federal managers come and go, each new group reflecting differing priorities. A congressional policy should be articulated to clearly define congressional intent concerning cost reduction and productivity improvement and also to affirm Federal management responsibilities. In particular, the policy should spell out Office of Management and Budget and Office of Personnel Management responsibilities for holding agencies accountable for the major requirements of the bill: identification of program goals, program appraisal, better workforce planning and cost accounting, and added incentives for increased productivity. GAO is concerned that the bill would force the rapid creation of complex analytical and reporting mechanisms which would require lengthy preparation and could be duplicative of other efforts. The effort required to implement this bill could be lessened if it allowed maximum use of work already underway and systems which are in place. The Civil Service Reform Act offers the tools to accomplish much of what the bill intends to do. The Reform Act has provisions to link pay, awards, and other personnel actions to employees' performance. GAO has additional questions about the bill's provisions for disposition of cost savings by agencies without direct congressional control. Of particular concern is the bill's effect on rescission procedures and whether there will be adequate safeguards to insure that the savings identified by the executive branch are truly productivity improvements and not policy cutbacks. Instead of an attempt at Government-wide implementation at this time, GAO suggests demonstration projects at selected agencies.