Frequently Asked Questions
Information on this page answers questions about the ExpectMore.gov website and program assessments completed by the U.S. Office of Management and Budget (OMB) and Federal agencies. For detailed information and the most up-to-date information on the Program Assessment Rating Tool (PART) process used to assess Federal programs, visit OMB's Performance Portal.ExpectMore.gov has the most comprehensive set of program information of any government website in the world.
What is ExpectMore.gov? Why was it created?
ExpectMore.gov is a website that provides the public with information on how Federal programs perform. ExpectMore.gov was launched in February 2006 and includes information about every Federal program assessed - what its purpose is, how it performs, and what it is doing to perform better. There are over 1000 assessment summaries and detailed assessments available on ExpectMore.gov. By making candid assessments of programs more accessible to the public, ExpectMore.gov raises awareness of what Federal programs are doing to improve.
ExpectMore.gov is updated twice a year, in February with the publication of the President's Budget and in the spring/summer when the PARTs that are being assessed for that year are published. Additionally, during both updates, the most recent performance information is updated and available to the public. Over 5,000 measures are tracked on ExpectMore.gov. Performance improvement plans are included with the detailed assessments showing the completed actions a program has accomplised and what they are doing to improve performance for the coming year.
Who wrote the assessment summaries found on ExpectMore.gov?
The over 1000 program assessment summaries and details available through ExpectMore.gov were completed collaboratively by the U.S. Office of Management and Budget (OMB) and Federal agencies. Federal agencies implement and manage programs that serve or benefit the American people. The OMB works to ensure that the Executive Branch makes best use of its resources to achieve its goals.
Each summary provides a program overview, some of the key findings of the assessment, and the follow-up actions agencies are taking to address those findings. Each summary also links to the full program assessment details, the program's improvement plan, the program's website (where available), and the search results for similar Federal programs.
What is the foundation for the assessment summaries on ExpectMore.gov?
Each assessment summary provides an overview of the program mission and function, some of the key assessment findings, and related follow-up actions (improvement plan) based on the results of the assessment. Detailed information about the assessment can be linked to from its summary, including the answer, explanation, and list of evidence for each question as well as the updated funding levels, performance data, and improvement plan status.
Click on "View Assessment Details," located at the top left of the program title to view the full assessment details.
How often are the summaries on ExpectMore.gov updated?
The program assessment summaries are generally updated biannually and at other times as needed.
What is the purpose of program assessment?
Program assessments help program managers and other stakeholders understand what changes may need to be made to improve performance. Assessments also help highlight best practices that can be shared with similar programs. More information about the Program Assessment Rating Tool (PART) and "Instructions for Completing the PART" can be found on the U.S. Office of Management and Budget's Performance Portal.
Assessments of Federal programs are conducted using the Program Assessment Rating Tool (PART). A PART review helps identify a program's strengths and weaknesses to inform funding and management decisions aimed at making the program more effective. It looks at all factors that affect and reflect a program's performance including its purpose and design; performance measurement, evaluations, and strategic planning; program management; and program results and accountability. Based on the evaluation, recommendations are made to improve program results.
Through the PART, which includes a consistent series of analytical questions, programs are able to show improvement over time. It also allows for comparisons between similar programs.
What questions are asked in a Program Assessment Rating Tool review?
The Program Assessment Rating Tool (PART) is a questionnaire designed to help assess the management and performance of programs.
Each PART questionnaire includes 25 questions that are divided into four sections.
- The first section of questions asks whether a program's purpose is clear and whether it is well designed to achieve its objectives.
- The second section involves strategic planning, and weighs whether the agency establishes valid annual and long-term goals for its programs.
- The third section rates the management of an agency's program, including financial oversight and program improvement efforts.
- The fourth section of questions focuses on results that programs can report with accuracy and consistency.
To reflect the fact that Federal programs deliver goods and services using different mechanisms, the PART also has customized questions depending on the type of program. The seven PART categories are:
- Direct Federal - Programs where services are provided primarily by employees of the Federal government, such as the State Department's Visa and Consular Services program.
- Competitive Grant - Programs that provide funds to State, local and tribal governments, organizations, individuals and other entities through a competitive process, such as Health Centers at the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).
- Block/Formula Grant - Programs that provide funds to State, local and tribal governments and other entities by formula or block grant, such as Department of Energy's (DOE) Weatherization Assistance program and HHS' Ryan White HIV/AIDS program.
- Regulatory - Programs that accomplish their mission through Federal rules that implement, interpret or prescribe law or policy, or describe procedure or practice requirements, such as the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Mobile Source Air Pollution Standards and Certification program.
- Capital Assets and Service Acquisition - Programs that achieve their goals through development and acquisition of capital assets (such as land, structures, equipment, and intellectual property) or the purchase of services (like maintenance and information technology). Program examples include Navy Shipbuilding and the Bonneville Power Administration.
- Credit - Programs that provide support through loans, loan guarantees and direct credit, such as the Export Import Bank's Long Term Guarantees program.
- Research and Development - Programs that focus on knowledge creation or its application to the creation of systems, methods, materials, or technologies, such as DOE's Solar Energy and NASA's Solar System Exploration programs.
Based on the assessment, recommendations are made to improve program results.
How is performance measured?
Each program adopts outcome, output, and efficiency measures and uses them to track their progress towards goals. Taken together, a program's measures should tell a comprehensive story of its performance.
- An outcome refers to the events or conditions of direct importance to the public/beneficiary that are external to the program. An outcome answers the question "What is the program's goal or purpose?" For example, the goal of a job training program is to give someone the skills to find a job, as opposed to giving out a grant. An outcome measure may be the number and percent of people employed within six months of completing the job training program or how much their income increased.
- An output refers to the internal activities of a program, such as the products or services delivered. The output answers the question "What does the program do to achieve its goal or purpose?" For example, a job training program may provide a class to teach someone the skills necessary to find a job. An output measure may be the number of people who complete a job training program.
- Efficiency measures capture a program's ability to carry out its activities and achieve results (an outcome or output), relative to resources (an input such as cost). The best kind of efficiency measure addresses the cost of achieving a unit of outcome.
The key to assessing program effectiveness is measuring the right things. The Program Assessment Rating Tool (PART) contains several questions about the quality of a program's long-term and annual performance goals and measures, as well as questions about how well a program has achieved its performance goals. Because a program's performance goals represent its definition of success, the quality of the performance goals and actual performance against those goals are the primary things that determine an overall PART rating. Click here to see examples of meaningful performance measures.
What is a "program"?
A program is an activity or set of activities intended to help achieve an outcome that benefits the public.
Who determines that a program should be assessed?
Federal agencies and the U.S. Office of Management and Budget (OMB) work together to decide which programs will be reviewed using the Program Assessment Rating Tool (PART) in the coming year. A list is available on OMB's Performance Portal at the U.S. Office of Management and Budget's Performance Portal.
What is a program reassessment?
The Administration has set the goal that each program should continually improve. As discussed above, follow-up actions resulting from a Program Assessment Rating Tool review help drive performance improvements. When a program provides evidence of significant improvement, it has the opportunity to be reassessed so that it may also improve its rating.
When is a reassessment completed?
Programs are reassessed when significant changes have been made to improve the rating of the program. For example, programs might be reassessed when new performance measures are implemented, follow-up actions have been completed, new performance data have been compiled, or a program evaluation has been completed.
How are assessment ratings determined?
Program Assessment Rating Tool (PART) review scores are translated into qualitative ratings as described below. While the Administration hopes that, over time, increasing numbers of programs will fall into the Effective category, the completion of PART improvement plans is even more important than a program's PART rating. The goal is continuous improvement of program performance.
The bands and associated ratings are as follows:Bands And Associated Ratings
Effective 85 - 100 Moderately Effective 70 - 84 Adequate 50 - 69 Ineffective 0 - 49
Regardless of the overall score, a rating of Results Not Demonstrated is given when a program does not have acceptable performance measures or lacks baselines and performance data.
What does "Results Not Demonstrated" mean?
A rating of Results Not Demonstrated (RND) is given regardless of the program's overall assessment score and indicates that a program has not been able to develop acceptable performance goals or has not collected data to determine whether it is performing. Having such supporting evidence to answer assessment questions and moving programs out of an RND rating is a high priority.
How do "Performing" and "Not Performing" relate to assessment ratings?
Program Assessment Rating Tool ratings are grouped into the broad categories "Performing" and "Not Performing" on ExpectMore.gov.
A link to the lists of programs that are Performing and Not Performing can be found on the ExpectMore.gov homepage.
What if a Federal agency and the U.S. Office of Management and Budget disagree about the findings of an assessment?
Federal agencies and the U.S. Office of Management and Budget collaborate extensively to complete assessments and rely on evidence to support their conclusions. After working with the U.S. Office of Management and Budget (OMB) to come up with the right answers to questions, Federal agencies have the opportunity to formally appeal the answers with which they still disagree. In the appeals process, agency appeals are considered and adjudicated by a five-person panel comprised of members of the President's Management Council, a group of deputy secretaries responsible for management issues at their respective agencies. For more detailed information on the appeals process, please read the 2008 PART appeals guidance that is available: 2008 PART Appeals Process Guidance.
How many programs fall into each Program Assessment Rating Tool rating?
Of the more than 1000 programs that have been assessed by PART, the cumulative distribution of scores is as follows:RatingPercent (and Number)
Effective 19% (193) Moderately Effective 32% (326) Adequate 29% (297) Ineffective 3% (26) Results Not Demonstrated 17% (173)
How does the Administration view different assessment ratings?
While the Administration hopes that, over time, increasing numbers of programs will fall into the "Effective" category, we also stress that completion of Program Assessment Rating Tool (PART) improvement plan is even more important than a program's PART rating. The goal is continuous improvement of program performance.
Although all programs are expected to follow-up on PART findings, programs rated Results Not Demonstrated will receive the greatest pressure to implement recommendations that will enable them to illustrate their level of effectiveness.
Is it possible for a program to receive a good rating and get a funding cut?
Because a number of factors contribute to a program's budget request, a good rating does not guarantee a specific level of funding. A program may be Effective, but if it has completed its mission, if it is unnecessarily duplicative of other programs, or if there are higher priorities, its funding may be reduced. Likewise, an Ineffective or Results Not Demonstrated (RND) rating does not guarantee decreased funding. For example, an RND-rated program may receive additional funding to address its deficiencies and improve its performance.
Will a poor assessment rating lead to a recommendation that a program's funding be reduced or that the program be eliminated?
Not necessarily. The assessment score in and of itself does not determine funding recommendations. The detailed Program Assessment Rating Tool findings, rather than the program's rating by itself, should inform budget recommendations.
What is the Administration doing to advance the use of Program Assessment Rating Tool reviews by Congress?
Congress is an important partner in the Program Assessment Rating Tool (PART) process. The Administration provides PART assessment details to not only the public, but also Members of Congress and other stakeholders so they can review conclusions made in response to PART questions, as well as provide feedback on the PART itself. In general, because the PART is an evidence-based, objective analysis, the Administration believes it can be a useful tool in budget and policy formulation for all branches of government.
How can Congress use this information to help improve programs?
Members of Congress, Congressional Committees, and their staffs can review assessments of programs under their jurisdiction and ask of those programs:
- Are the goals the program has set the right goals?
- Are the goals aggressive enough?
- What can the program do to improve its management?
- Is the program doing everything it can to maximize its performance and get better every year?
The Council for Excellence in Government and the Office of Management and Budget have published an easy to understand pamphlet describing the PART process and how Congress can better utilize the information on ExpectMore.gov.
What is an improvement plan?
The set of budget, management, policy, or legislative follow-up actions that are created to respond to assessment findings are collectively known as an improvement plan. In many ways, the improvement plan is most important aspect of a Program Assessment Rating Tool (PART) review since it is intended to link budgeting and performance and to demonstrate a commitment to continuous program improvement.
As many as three PART follow-up actions are included in each program assessment summary in ExpectMore.gov. Additional detail about the actions can be seen in the detailed assessment; click on "View Assessment Details," located at the top left of each summary page, to view the detailed follow-up actions.
Some improvement plans do not appear very aggressive. Why is that?
Not all programs are taking sufficient action to improve their performance. One of the goals of ExpectMore.gov is to make more public what programs are doing to improve and therefore spur more attention, particularly from Congress, to making programs get better every year. With this additional attention, it is expected that agencies will be most aggressive in taking the necessary steps to improve.
Who is accountable for improving program performance?
Because Federal agencies manage programs, they are responsible for implementing Program Assessment Rating Tool follow-up actions. The U.S. Office of Management and Budget provides oversight and assistance as appropriate.
Where can I find examples of programs that are performing?
Program Assessment Rating Tool ratings are grouped into the broad categories "Performing" and "Not Performing" on ExpectMore.gov. Performing programs have ratings of Effective, Moderately Effective, or Adequate:
- Effective. This is the highest rating a program can achieve. Programs rated Effective set ambitious goals, achieve results, are well-managed and improve efficiency.
- Moderately Effective. In general, a program rated Moderately Effective has set ambitious goals and is well-managed. Moderately Effective programs likely need to improve their efficiency or address other problems in the programs' design or management in order to achieve better results.
- Adequate. This rating describes a program that needs to set more ambitious goals, achieve better results, improve accountability or strengthen its management practices.
Where can I learn more about the Program Assessment Rating Tool?
More information about the Program Assessment Rating Tool (PART) and "Instructions for Completing the PART" can be found on the U.S. Office of Management and Budget's Performance Portal.
In addition, individual researchers, good government groups, and the Government Accountability Office have published several reports on the PART.
How can I find out how well a specific Federal agency performs?
There is a new pull down menu on the main page that allows you to see one specific Federal agency.
Has the Program Assessment Rating Tool received any awards?
Yes. The PART has won two awards. In spring 2005, the Program Assessment Rating Tool (PART) received the "Innovations in American Government Award," a program of the Ash Institute for Democratic Governance and Innovation at the Kennedy School of Government (Harvard University) that is administered in partnership with the Council for Excellence in Government. More information can be found at the Ash Institute's website Ash Institute.
In April 2006, the PART recieved the Government Performance Management Excellence Award from The Performance Institute. More information can be found at The Performance Institute.
Where can I learn more about Federal Government programs?
Each program assessment summary provides a link to the full program assessment details, including the answer, explanation, and list of evidence for each question. Click on "View Assessment Details," located at the top left of each summary page to view the assessment details, current performance data, and the status of improvement plan implementation. In addition, each assessment summary provides a link to the program's website (where available), and to the search results for similar Federal programs.
If, after reviewing supporting information available through ExpectMore.gov, you still have questions, you may visit USA.gov. USA.gov is the U.S. government's official web portal to all Federal, state and local government web resources and services. As the catalyst for a growing electronic government, USA.gov helps citizens navigate through government red tape. At USA.gov, you can apply for benefits online, contact a government agency or use the Internet's most comprehensive search of government websites - all from one easy location.
What else is the Federal Government doing to improve program management?
The Administration is committed to spending taxpayer money wisely and on programs that work. Through their implementation of the President's Management Agenda (PMA), Federal agencies are adopting the management disciplines that help them focus on and deliver results. They are performing better and working to spend taxpayers' money better each year. More information about the PMA can be found at www.results.gov.
I am a member of the media. Who do I contact with further questions?
All press inquiries should be directed to the U.S. Office of Management and Budget Communications Office at 202-395-7254.
I am having some problems viewing content on ExpectMore.gov. What's the best way to view the site?
While you can adjust the text to the size you choose, ExpectMore.gov content is best viewed at the medium or normal browser text size setting.
Can I link to ExpectMore.gov?
ExpectMore.gov is a public domain website, which means you may link to it at no cost.