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Deputy Director for Management
Office of Management and Budget
Committee on Government Reform
September 18, 2003
Ten years ago, we had a Federal government with agencies that did not have strategic plans, planning documents long considered essential by most high-performing organizations. Likewise there was no focus on results, what the Federal government should have been achieving for the American people. There was no systematic method in place to assess the performance of programs. Rarely was the question asked: are we doing what we set out to do?
The 1993 Government Performance and Results Act (GPRA or the Results Act) introduced the concept of performance management to government. This important law required strategic and performance planning. It required agencies to set annual goals and then report annually on the extent to which they were achieving their goals. The promise of GPRA was a government that managed for results. The reality of GPRA, on the other hand, is a government that rarely uses performance information to manage programs or make decisions to improve performance.
Today, the Federal government is beginning to embrace more effectively the promise of the Results Act. Agencies and OMB are together systematically asking how individual programs are performing. The right questions are being asked: Are programs effective? Are they well managed? If not, how might we work with Congress to improve program performance?
To in part address weaknesses in GPRA implementation, the Administration created the Program Assessment Rating Tool, a.k.a. the PART. The PART is the device being used to assess program performance. It is a consistent, objective, and transparent method of evaluating a programs purpose and design, planning, management, and results and accountability to determine its overall effectiveness. It assesses the extent to which the agency is managing for results and maximizing the programs performance, key requirements of GPRA. Once complete, the basis for the ratings are made publicly available on OMBs website.
Applying the PART to 20% of the governments programs each year, we will PART all of the governments programs over a five year period. For the Committees information, included with my testimony is a list of the programs assessed last year and those that will be assessed this year.
Clearly, it takes a while to properly assess and reassess all the federal programs, and to change the way the Executive and Congressional branches address the issue of performance. Federal programs have lofty missions and their performance is sometimes hard to measure. In addition, there are few easy black and white answers to why a program is performing poorly. With the PART, we systematically and routinely assess program performance and follow-up on recommendations to address poor performance.
The PART for the FAA Grants-in-Aid program, for instance, found the programs effectiveness to be limited by the way it funded airports of varying size. Because the dependence of airports on the Federal government varies based on an airports location, size, and financial resources, analysis from the PART informed the Administrations reauthorization proposal to allow more funds to be targeted to airports with the greatest need and dependence on federal assistance. If implemented, this recommendation would transfer more than $87 million in FY 2004 funds from large to small airports, thereby raising small airports share from approximately 63 percent to over 66 percent of total grants from the program.
The PART-related recommendation for the Department of Educations TRIO Upward Bound program is another example of the types of actions we are taking to improve performance. Its PART revealed that the TRIO program, which provides intensive services to improve academic performance and college preparation for high school students, did not effectively target the highest risk students, those who have potential for college but are not performing successfully in high school. Because evaluations indicate that this high-risk population is most likely to benefit from the program, he Department created a special competition that will award $18 million to projects that serve these high-risk students. The Department of Education will monitor the college enrollment rate for these participants and will use the results of this demonstration initiative to guide future changes in the Upward Bound program.
I believe that five years from now the federal government will be managing for results: we can make it happen. Executive Branch leadership will be routinely asking whether the programs it administers are effective and efficient and doing what they were intended to do. If they arent, the Executive Branch will be looking for ways to improve, working closely with Congress to do so. The Executive Branch will also be able to assess like programs administered throughout the government; find out which ones work best, and share and apply best practices among them. We will also have a better picture of overall agency performance based on the sum of PART evaluations.
I also believe that Congress will be using performance information as part of their oversight considerations, insisting that program performance improve throughout government. I expect agencies will be asked why programs havent improved. Congress will be working with the Executive branch to develop and implement remedies to address poor program performance. I expect this Committee in particular will be looking across government at whats working and whats not. Appropriators will be focusing resources on whats working.
Members sit on this Committee because they have a strong interest in good government. The quest for good government demands we pursue this promise of the Results Act. We must be held accountable for our performance and produce measurable results.
We should be working to earn the trust of the American people every day. One way to do this is to focus constantly on whether we are doing what we set out to do. Were going to have work at this. Managing for results is still a new way of thinking for the Federal government. But it is doable and, because we are managing in times of continued budgetary constraints, it is necessary. This will happen. We will bring about this historic change in government management together, and in so doing, realize the full promise of the Results Act.