OMB sets budget test criteria

"Link budget and management decisions to performance,"

To test performance-based budgeting for fiscal 2003, the Bush administration will select agency programs with a specific, clearly stated goal, Sean O'Keefe, deputy director of the Office of Management and Budget, testified before Congress on Tuesday.

The top item on President Bush's management agenda is linking program performance and agencies' budgets. In the fiscal 2002 budget, he outlined his intention to choose a set of programs across government to test agencies' abilities to set goals, measure performance, and use that information to improve results.

OMB has come up with the five requirements the administration will use to select those programs, O'Keefe told the House Government Reform Committee's Government Efficiency, Financial Management and Intergovernmental Relations Subcommittee.

"This is a very rigid, extremely specific set of criteria," he said, describing the requirements agencies must meet:

* Clearly state a specified, desired outcome that can be measured, rather than something amorphous like "the achievement of world peace."

* Examine multiple ways to achieve that result in order to choose the best approach.

* Clearly identify the results of the program and what the agency will use to measure performance.

* Develop an inventory of required "inputs," including not just budget numbers, but also personnel, time, effort and other resources.

* Identify the cost per "output," to be able to clearly determine if the investment of resources is worth the result.

The administration plans to use these requirements to improve agencies' compliance with the Government Performance and Results Act of 1993, O'Keefe said. The government needs to move past simply producing performance plans and reports to actually using the performance information in day-to-day decision-making, he said.

During the next two weeks, General Accounting Office officials will release a series of reports on the GPRA reports from 24 departments and agencies, Christopher Mihm, GAO associate director for federal management and workforce issues, testified at the hearing.

These reports go beyond reviewing for compliance, which has been the focus of past GAO reports on GPRA, to a more "substantive discussion" of agencies' ability to set goals and measure performance against those goals, Mihm said.

He said the first nine should be released today, reviewing the Treasury, Health and Human Services, Labor, Interior, Commerce and Veterans Affairs departments, the Environmental Protection Agency, the National Science Foundation and the Social Security Administration.

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