Agencies' GPRA reports vary

The ability of agencies to report on the results of their programs varies

greatly, and members of Congress are afraid that the quality of the reports

links directly to the quality of the programs.

"We will probably see some correlation at the end of the day between the

quality of the reporting and the quality of the people," Sen. Fred Thompson

(R-Tenn.), chairman of the Senate Governmental Affairs Committee, said Wednesday

at a press conference to release an analysis of 24 agencies' reports. "If

you are not doing a good job, you're likely to not want people to understand

what you're doing."

As required by the Government Performance and Results Act of 1993, more

than 180 federal agencies turned in their first results reports to the Office

of Management and Budget by March 31. The analysis of the quality of the

reports, performed by the Mercatus Center at George Mason University, shows

a wide range of good and bad reporting.

Some agencies, such as the Transportation Department, included detailed

information on their results-oriented goals and the measures in place to

reach those goals. Others, such as the Energy Department, wrote about activity-related

goals that provided no clear link to results.

GPRA reports are intended to judge the effectiveness of agencies' programs

when it comes to improving service to citizens and overall quality of life

in the United States, but the information in the first-year reports makes

such a judgment difficult, said Maurice McTigue, director of the Public Sector Leadership program at Mercatus.

"Unless the quality of the information coming out is of an acceptable standard,

then it is not possible for you people to do your jobs of determining the

quality of the results," he said.

House and Senate committees are working to provide appropriators with an

analysis of the reported results by the beginning of June so that the information

can be included in fiscal 2001 budget decisions, Thompson said.

"If we don't integrate this into the budget process, it's all meaningless,"

Thompson said.

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