Managers, answer these questions before the Hill calls

There are now a series of questions that agency program mangers need to answer before congressional staff members call to ask about their program.

In a report from Dec. 9, the Government Accountability Office shared the questions with congressional staff members as a way to check on performance goals for a program. Congress plays a central role in setting and then checking on performance goals, based on the Government Performance and Results Act (GPRA) Modernization Act.

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And knowing the answers to these questions can prepare officials for a conversation with committee staff.

  • Does a program’s mission statement match the agency’s statutory authority? If not, does it show that laws should be updated or even revised?
  • Is another agency doing the same thing? If so, how are agency officials making their program or activity complementary and unique at the same time?
  • Does the management plan reflect coordination with other agencies?
  • Are the agency’s goals and priorities consistent with Congress' priorities? If not, why do the differences exist and can they be resolved?
  • Are strategies clearly linked to the agency’s goals?
  • How is the agency measuring progress?
  • Has the agency been meeting established performance targets?
  • Do the performance measures give Congress enough information for its oversight and decision-making duties?

The GPRA Modernization Act affords Congress the opportunity to get involved in how an agency’s program should turn out. Congress also holds a lot of power in its hands, including funding, for a program's future.

GAO said consultations and briefings with agency officials give Congress an important opportunity to provide input on what agencies should strive for. The meetings also can help committee staff to know the challenges confronting particular programs and the broader context of how agency performance, budget, and financial information fit together.

About the Author

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

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