OMB needs broader view of programs, GAO says

Officials, who review agencies’ programs, should look across agencies for ways to consolidate or even restructure inefficient operations, GAO says.

The Obama administration needs to adopt a broader view of agency efficiencies, and should review efforts across the government rather than each agency in isolation, according to a new report.

Office of Management and Budget officials, who review programs for usefulness and efficiency, should look for ways to consolidate or even restructure inefficient operations that cut across agency lines, the Government Accountability Office recommended in a report released June 7. GAO suggested OMB could use governmentwide performance plans required by the Government Performance and Results Act, which became law in 1993, as a guide.

At the agency level, OMB should clarify its guidance on establishing efficiency goals and strategies in their performance reports, GAO recommended. OMB should stress the importance of looking for efficiencies across programs.


Related story:

OMB seeks discretionary spending cuts 


At the program level, GAO recommended that agencies need more guidance and technical support to help with instituting and then using efficiency measures, if OMB wants agencies to continue looking for efficiencies at that level.

OMB has been reviewing agencies’ work, program by program, most recently through the Program Assessment Rating Tool that has agencies develop efficiency measures in their programs.

Today, senior Obama administration officials charged all agencies with the task of hunting down wasteful spending and cut out 5 percent of their discretionary budget for fiscal 2012. They want the money to come from duplicative programs or programs that are not useful in reaching an agency’s mission.

“Money that is shifted from a less-effective program to a much more effective program is a very good thing,” Orszag said in a question-and-answer period after a speech given at the Center for American Progress on government reforms.

This week the House is expected to vote on a bill that would require an assessment of each federal program every five years. The assessment would include reviews of each program’s purpose, strategic plan, organizational design, management and efficiencies, and whether it’s meeting its objectives, according to the Government Efficiency, Effectiveness, and Performance Improvement Act (H.R. 2142). In addition, the legislation would require an agency performance improvement officer to supervise an agency’s performance management activities and a performance improvement council.

About the Author

Matthew Weigelt is a freelance journalist who writes about acquisition and procurement.

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