GAO seeks performance boost

"Results-Oriented Budget Practices in Federal Agencies"

The General Accounting Office is looking for agency examples to supplement a draft guide on ways to integrate program performance information into budget decisions.

The guide is intended to help agencies meet the requirements of the Government Performance and Results Act of 1993 as well as President Bush's management agenda, which names performance and budget integration as one of five priorities.

The draft is an "initial framework that describes the practices an agency could use to link performance information to the budget process," according to GAO.

The framework splits the entire integration process into four themes, with best practices under each. GAO has gathered comments from a panel of agency officials on the barriers to using such practices, and the next step for the guide is to gather examples of agencies that have successfully applied the practices.

The first theme is fostering broad-scale use of performance information in forming budget requests for Congress and in using the resources acquired. Agency managers should work closely with program officials to determine priorities and provide guidance on changes in overall agency goals that could affect their programs, according to the draft.

The second and third themes focus on agency-specific uses of performance information in managing programs. Under Theme 2, managers must produce reliable estimates of a program's costs and resources, including considering how one program affects others. Theme 3 asks managers to join performance, budget, spending and workforce information.

The fourth theme covers how an agency continuously improves its pro.cesses and performance.

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