Committee approves review bill

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"The Platts Plan"

Legislation requiring agency officials to conduct performance reviews of federal programs once every five years took one step forward in Congress today.

Members of the House Government Reform Committee approved the Program Assessment and Results Act, sponsored by Rep. Todd Platts (R-Penn.) and supported by committee chairman Tom Davis (R-Va.). This proposed legislation marks the consecutive second year that a House bill requiring reviews every five years passed the committee. Last year, the House floor did not consider the proposed law.

Some revisions to the proposed law have been incorporated into the bill following negotiations with Democratic members of the committee, Platts said.

One major revision is a requirement that Office of Management and Budget officials post certain information online, including:

* Programs due for assessment.

* Criteria by which evaluators will judge them.

* Ways people can submit comments on the programs and judgment standards.

The legislation also specifies that evaluators conduct program assessments with agency officials “to the maximum extent practicable.”

The law would build on the Government Performance and Results Act, which requires agencies to evaluate programs but does not go far enough, Platts said.

“Not only have agencies failed to comply with this requirement, the valuable information that stands to be gained from these evaluations is not culled, coordinated or presented in a useful way,” he said.

Fears that the law would be used as a political tool to slash programs are unfounded, Platts said.

"Budgeting is and will always be a political exercise," he said. "The budget reflects the priorities of elected leaders. As we make decisions to fund these priorities, we need to be sure every dollar is spent wisely on programs that work.


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About the Author

David Perera is a special contributor to Defense Systems.

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