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The Five Initatives


Using the PART

We're spending a lot of time and effort on the PART, the Program Assessment Rating Tool. Agency officials and OMB examiners are investing thousands of work hours into filling out the worksheets, coming up with the right answers to specific questions, following up on recommendations. It better be worth it.

The primary purpose of the PART is, of course, to improve program performance. That is also the purpose of the Government Performance and Results Act (GPRA), and unfortunately, too few agencies or Congressional committees use the performance information in GPRA plans and reports to manage. The PART is changing that.

OMB is using the PART. The PART is now an integral part of the budget process. Some examples of the use of the PART in the FY 2004 budget process:

  • To improve the Environmental Management Clean-up program, with an ineffective PART rating, the President's budget proposed an additional $272 million to fully implement significantly revised clean-up plans while reducing costs and accelerating completion schedules.
  • To address the high erroneous payment rate in the Earned Income Tax Credit program, rated ineffective by the PART, the President's budget proposed an additional $105 million (72%) for the program.
  • The President's budget proposed to cut funding by $25 million (-12.5%) for the Even Start Program, which was rated ineffective by the PART. That level of funding is sufficient to continue awards to current grantees, but no new ones. Funds were redirected to Early Reading First, which supports pre-school programs that use proven instructional practices.
  • The President's budget proposed to cut funding by $13 million (-14%) for Health Professions, which was rated ineffective by the PART. This will continue to phase out most grants from the program and redirect funds to activities more capable of placing health care providers in medically underserved communities.

Of course, OMB will continue to use the PARTs as it makes decisions for the President's FY 2005 budget. We've made hundreds of recommendations through the PART that agencies are now implementing. One of those recommendations included suggesting that IRS use private collection agencies to assist in collecting back taxes. The House Budget Resolution acknowledged the PART that was completed for IRS' tax collection efforts:

In its examination of selected Government programs, OMB determined through the Performance Assessment Rating Tool [PART] that IRS collection efforts do not efficiently utilize its available resources. In response, the President proposes legislation that would permit the IRS to enlist the help of private collection agencies to obtain payment from delinquent taxpayers. The Senate amendment includes $226 million in mandatory funding in 2004 for this proposal.

But how else can you use the PART?


According to its website, the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality uses its PARTs to inform budget decisions. The Agency website links to a summary of the PART assessment and states that a "PART assessment was conducted for this program (along with HCUP and CAHPS®) and helped inform the FY 2004 budget policy."

Making the Case for your Programs

John Keys, Commissioner of the Bureau of Reclamation, reported to the House Subcommittee on Water and Power about the improvements the Bureau was making to the Hydropower, Water Reuse and Recycling Programs based on findings included in the PARTs for those programs. Specifically, he testified that the Reclamation program "has begun developing long-term goals that will address the identified issues, such as aging facilities and the need for better performance measures."

In his testimony before the Subcommittee on Fisheries, Wildlife, and Water of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works, US Fish and Wildlife Service Director Steven Williams mentioned the PART completed for the Partner's Program, which works with private landowners to restore habitats. Williams testified:

The Partners Program was also one of over 200 programs evaluated using the Administration's Program Assessment Rating Tool during the FY 2004 budget process. This year's increase is a direct reflection of the program's achievement of annual performance goals. We are requesting an additional $9.1 million in the 2004 request to increase the program's capabilities to enter into meaningful partnerships resulting in on-the-ground habitat restoration accomplishments.

Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) Administrator Elizabeth M. Duke testified before the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, HHS and Education that of the six HRSA programs assessed using the PART, five had good performance measures. Administrator Duke testified,

Our FY 2004 request also includes the assessments of six of HRSA's programs evaluated using OMB's Program Assessment Rating Tool. The HRSA programs evaluated were: Health Centers, National Health Service Corps, Health Professions, Nursing Education Loan Repayment and Scholarship, Maternal and Child Health Block Grant and Ryan White. Of the thirty-one HHS programs evaluated, HRSA's Health Centers program was the highest rated.

HRSA continues to make a strong effort to build performance management into the way it conducts its business. According to the Performance and Management Assessment section of the Budget, fifty percent of all Federal programs rated using the PART had "inadequate" performance measures. In comparison, 5 of the 6 HRSA programs rated had performance measures deemed "adequate". This is an indication of HRSA's commitment to finding ways to improve accountability and focus on results.

In making the case for the budget for the Indian Health Service, Interim Director Dr. Charles Grim cited the program's high PART score in testimony before the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs.

The FY 2004 President's Budget request and associated performance plan represent a cost effective public health approach to ensure American Indians and Alaska Natives have access to health services. Our performance is validated by our documented Government Performance and Results Act achievements and, most recently, also by our scores from the Office of Management and Budget Program Assessment Rating Tool, which were some of the highest in the Federal Government.

Improved Performance

EPA uses PART ratings, among other things, to determine the merit of new budget proposals.

Its PART rated the Rural Water Supply Project as "results not demonstrated." The Administration plans legislation to establish a Reclamation Rural Water Program that has adequate cost controls and clear guidelines for project development.


Robert Shea

The Five Initatives:
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