Performance and budget link improves

"Managing for Results: Agency Progress in Linking Performance Plans with Budgets and Financial Statements"

Federal agencies are getting better at linking their performance goals with their budget requests, but they still face challenges in drawing direct lines between performance results and money spent, according to the General Accounting Office.

In the latest assessment of agencies' progress in complying with the Government Performance and Results Act of 1993, GAO found a significant improvement in agencies' compliance. The 1993 act is intended to help agency officials, Congress and the public understand how the performance of an agency's program relates to the funding and resources it receives.

For fiscal 2002, almost 75 percent of the agencies GAO reviewed were able to show a direct link between their performance plans and their budget requests, up from 40 percent in fiscal 1999, according to the Jan. 4 report for Sen. Fred Thompson (R-Tenn.), ranking member on the Senate Governmental Affairs Committee.

But agencies are not as far along when it comes to linking their performance plans to their audited financial statements. For fiscal 2000, 13 of the 24 agencies covered by the Chief Financial Officer Act had some link between their financial statements and their performance plans, up from 10 in fiscal 1999. But this situation is compounded by the fact that most agencies must still address longstanding accuracy problems within their financial systems, the report states.

GAO commended the Office of Management and Budget for its guidance to agencies, even though almost every agency took a different approach when performing the linkage. But that is more a reflection of the agencies' complex and varied missions than a problem with the process, according to the report.

"No single definition or approach can be expected to encompass the range of needs and changing interests of federal decision-makers," the report states. "Governmentwide guidance is clearly necessary to prompt continued progress, and such guidance should continue to encourage agencies to develop their own unique approaches to linking resources and results consistent with their different environments and performance management challenges."

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