Pressure mounts for GPRA

Agencies are making slow progress in complying with the 1993 Government Performance and Results Act, but they are under pressure to improve during the next budget cycle.

GPRA—the law designed to bring performance measurement to government — requires agencies to draft multiyear strategic plans that describe mission goals and how to reach them.

So far, agencies have submitted two rounds of performance reports and have made modest improvements, said Robert Shea, counsel for the Senate Governmental Affairs Committee. However, many cases still exist where agencies can't tell if a program is working as intended thanks in part to incomplete and poor data, he said. And managers often are not using the performance information to make decisions.

"The Results Act has yet to take hold as a tool for day-to-day management," Shea said, speaking Aug. 1 at the Excellence in Government 2001 conference in Washington, D.C. The act "is not close to reaching the potential it could."

Sen. Fred Thompson (R-Tenn.) is "hopeful" that the next round of budget submissions will show improvement, Shea said. "The alternative is to go on with business as usual and accept" high-level abuse and mismanagement "as the norm."

President Bush has placed much emphasis on management performance, said Austin Smythe, an Office of Management and Budget official speaking at the conference.

Since March, OMB officials have been working on 15 initiatives that address management reforms, Smythe said. OMB will incorporate those initiatives in its midsession review, which relates to fiscal 2001 and 2002 budget figures and is due out this month. One initiative involves integrating performance standards into the budget, something that has been lacking, Smythe said.

OMB officials will use performance measures to evaluate agencies' fiscal 2003 budget requests. They have identified specific agency programs they will evaluate to determine how well managers set goals and measured performance, Smythe said. Agencies are to make their first submissions in September.

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