OMB testing performance tool

OMB Spring Review and PART guidance

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The Office of Management and Budget is taking the first step to make performance management a reality, with a new tool being tested in its spring budget review.

The tool, Program Assessment Rating Tool (PART), is the Bush administration's attempt to create an objective way to measure the effectiveness of federal programs.

The tool, which produces a numerical grade, also is intended to compare the performance of one program to another, OMB Director Mitchell Daniels Jr. said today at the National Academy of Public Administration's Performance Conference in College Park, Md.

OMB is under no illusion that a numerical grade will provide all the answers. "But it gives us a pretty good signal," Daniels said.

At least 20 percent of agencies' programs will go through the evaluation this year. OMB's long-range goal is for every program to be evaluated over the next five years, but that time frame may be shortened, Daniels said.

The Government Performance and Results Act of 1993 requires agencies to set performance improvement goals and to provide annual reports on their progress toward these goals.

Agencies submitted their first reports to Congress in 2000, covering fiscal 1999, but so far experts and officials have only criticized the quality and effectiveness of the goals and reports.

The tool, with help from the new Performance Measurement Advisory Council, is intended to become the means by which OMB and agencies try to address the performance issues raised by GPRA, Daniels said.

"This administration is determined to make real and make good on the unrealized promises of GPRA," he said.

This is the first version of the tool, and the Spring Review "is a shakedown cruise" to see how well it works and what changes need to be made, Daniels said.

OMB is also asking agencies to determine which programs will be reviewed this fall.

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