Agencies struggling with GPRA

Managing for results is still a struggle for many agencies, according to a new General Accounting Office report.

The report details the challenges that 28 agencies are having implementing the Government Performance and Results Act of 1993, the law designed to bring performance measurement to government. The GPRA requires agencies to draft multiyear strategic plans that describe mission goals and methods for reaching them.

The report, released this week, is a follow-on to an October 2000 GAO report and was done at the request of Sen. George Voinovich (R-Ohio).

Instilling a performance-based management style, which requires transforming agency culture to improve decision-making, performance and accountability, is not an easy task, GAO found. In its report, GAO said that while some agencies are "clearly showing signs of becoming high-performing organizations, others are not."

Federal managers' views varied widely, GAO found. For instance, when asked whether their agency's top leadership demonstrates a strong commitment to achieving results, 23 percent of Federal Aviation Administration managers agreed that this happens to "great" or "very great" extent. In contrast, 69 percent of managers at the National Science Foundation agreed.

When managers were asked whether agency managers at their level are held accountable for the results of programs they are responsible for, 40 percent of managers at the Forest Service said this happens to a "great" or "very great" extent, while 79 percent of the Department of Housing and Urban Development managers agreed.

"For agencies to successfully become high-performing organizations, their leaders need to foster performance-based cultures, find ways to measure performance, and use performance information to make decisions," GAO said.

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