GPRA poses problems

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

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

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 the report, GAO officials said that although 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 commitment to achieving results, 23 percent of Federal Aviation Administration managers agreed that this happens to a "great" or "very great" extent. In contrast, 69 percent of managers at the National Science Foundation agreed.

When respondents 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.

In responding to the report, Office of Management and Budget Deputy Director Sean O'Keefe said the findings reconfirm that although all agencies are in compliance with the law, "most are not yet at a stage where they are truly managing for results."

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