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The Honorable Clay Johnson III
Deputy Director for Management
Office of Management and Budget
on Environment, Technology and Standards
March 11, 2004
IntroductionThank you, Mr. Chairman, Members of the Committee, for inviting me to testify this morning. I want to discuss with you our assessment of the Environmental Protection Agencys (EPA) research programs and describe how the Presidents Management Agenda helps federal agencies get greater results on behalf of the American people. We, all of us, are in the process of making the Federal Government results-oriented. We here in Washington tend to focus on the amount of money were spending as a validation for how much the Federal Government is committed to an objective. As a part of becoming results-oriented, however, we are now focusing more heavily on the results we achieve on behalf of the American people. With just a little help from OMB, agencies are asking whether they are achieving their objectives as effectively and efficiently as possible. EPA is a leader in this effort. EPA is as advanced as any agency in government in having and using accurate financial information to make day-to-day decisions about program management. For example, EPA negotiates performance commitments with its grantees and provides resources based on those commitments. EPA regularly monitors grantees performance and expenditures and, if a grantee isnt meeting its commitments, EPA may withhold resources from the non-performers and redirect those resources to grantees that are meeting their commitments.
The Program Assessment Rating ToolApplying the Program Assessment Rating Tool (PART) is one of the ways we are becoming results-oriented. The PART is a series of questions that assesses the purpose, strategic planning, management, and performance of individual programs. Programs must demonstrate that their purpose is clear, that they set aggressive, outcome-oriented long and short-term goals, that they are well managed, and that they achieve results. With this tool, we are assessing the performance of every Federal program, and if it is not working as intended, we are trying to do something about it. The Administration has used the PART to assess 400 programs so far, representing approximately $1 trillion in Federal spending. We are using these assessments not only to guide our budget decisions, but also to improve the performance and management of the governments programs. The purpose of asking whether programs are working is to figure out how to fix them, not whether to spend more or less on them.
Ecological Research and Pollution Prevention PARTsAs you know, OMB and EPA assessed EPAs Ecological Research program and Pollution Prevention and New Technologies program using the PART. According to the assessment, the Ecological Research program:
Why reduce funding for these programs?Both the Ecological Research and Pollution Prevention programs were unable to demonstrate results, which clearly influenced funding decisions related to the programs. Especially in a year like this one, when resources are constrained, we should be directing resources to those programs that can achieve the most for the money. EPA and OMB used the PARTs for the Ecological Research and Pollution Prevention programs as one factor in making budget decisions about those programs and to focus resources on the programs most effective in helping EPA accomplish its mission. As Ive mentioned, the Pollution Prevention research program could not show whether the tools it is developing are used by industry, and, if so, to what extent they are used. Also, previous independent evaluations of the Pollution Prevention research program concurred with the PART review, especially in the areas of strategic planning and measurable results. On the other hand, a similar program in the EPAs Office of Prevention, Pesticides, and Toxics was able to show that industry reduced its use and emissions of toxic chemicals through the use of tools and methods developed by the program. We consider reductions in pollution to be one of the highest-level outcomes of an environmental programs performance. Therefore, we redirected funds to the pollution prevention program so EPA can continue to achieve pollution reduction, thereby positively impacting the quality of public health and the environment. Despite redirection of a small amount of funds from pollution prevention research to OPPTSs program, the Administration maintained a large amount of funding for the pollution prevention research program to assist it, among other things, in developing performance measures. This is our rationale for funding decisions related to EPAs research programs. I will leave to Dr. Gilman a more robust discussion of how these funding decisions were applied to specific components of the research programs.
Research and Development and the Investment CriteriaThe Governments investment in research & development, not only in the environmental arena but elsewhere, is substantial. But in a time of constrained resources, it is imperative that we invest in R&D wisely. In recognition of the special challenges that measuring R&D programs present, and leveraging work done by the National Academies of Science, the Administration developed its R&D Investment Criteria, which were incorporated into the PART. These criteria are some of the things we look at when assessing the value of particular R&D programs:
The Future of the PARTThe PART is a vehicle for improving program performance. It is just a tool to achieve the goals laid out by Congress in the Government Performance and Results Act (GPRA). GAO has made a number of recommendations for improving the PART, the vast majority of which we agree with and are addressing. For example:
ConclusionThe PART is a valuable tool now, as the General Accounting Office and others have asserted, and it will get better each year. As more and more program assessments are conducted, the vast majority of budget and management decisions will be significantly influenced by information about how programs are performing. Agencies, including EPA, will be better able to describe to Congress and the taxpayer what his or her funding is purchasing and will be managing so that each year improvements in efficiency and service delivery can be documented.