Making Performance Matter

House Majority Leader Dick Armey, R-Texas, has pledged that the congressional leadership will make federal agencies stick to the requirements of the Government Performance and Results Act during this year's budget process, forcing agencies to define their missions and goals and then find ways to measure how well they meet them.

Testifying yesterday at a hearing of the House Government Reform and Oversight Committee, Armey said congressional commitment to implementing GPRA is the only way to ensure that agencies will develop performance measures that Congress can use to determine how effectively federal agencies are spending their money.

"We need the vital information on actual performance that the Results Act can provide," Armey said. "For the success of this new tool, each congressional committee and elected representative must devote more attention to each and every agency's major plans and objectives."

Armey also said representatives should be willing to scrutinize federal projects that provide dollars and jobs to their home districts.

"We all must show a new willingness to reexamine pet projects with an ear towards objective, credible information about the results of these programs," Armey said.

The Government Performance and Results Act, passed in 1993, gave the executive branch five years to figure out ways to measure agencies' performance by explaining how they are spending federal dollars to achieve their missions and goals. As John Koskinen, deputy director for management at the Office of Management and Budget, put it at yesterday's hearing, the basic question agencies must ask themselves is: "What are we getting for the money we are spending?"

In September, agencies must submit to Congress five-year strategic plans, which will include mission statements, sets of goals, and proposals for measuring the performance of the agencies' efforts. Specific performance plans will be required for the fiscal 1999 budget process.

The act requires agencies to include federal managers, employees, customers, and other stakeholders in the process of defining their goals. Armey said executive branch departments and their respective oversight committees in Congress should be discussing agency objectives, starting now.

And don't forget OMB. Koskinen said agencies are required to submit their proposals to OMB before officially turning them over to Congress to make sure they're in sync with the Administration's objectives.

Koskinen told the committee some agencies will have more difficulties than others meeting GPRA's requirements, because they have less tangible missions. Congress, hea said, should view the agencies' first year performance plans as the beginning of a process that will evolve over time.

"Preparing a good GPRA plan is not an easy task. Indeed, a plan easily prepared is likely to be a superficial plan. Therefore, no one should expect the first plans to be perfect," Koskinen said.

Armey said Congress would work cooperatively with agencies so that managers would not be put on the defensive.

'The Results Act should foster an atmosphere in federal service where employees better understand what they do and the results their agencies are trying to achieve," Armey said. "This law was enacted to ensure that every employee's work would be value-added to public service."

Government Reform and Oversight Committee Chairman Dan Burton, R-Ind., said GPRA should be used to make the federal government accountable to taxpayers. "The results act is the key to reforming government now and into the future," Burton said.

Stay up-to-date with federal news alerts and analysis — Sign up for GovExec's email newsletters.
Close [ x ] More from GovExec

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Going Agile:Revolutionizing Federal Digital Services Delivery

    Here’s one indication that times have changed: Harriet Tubman is going to be the next face of the twenty dollar bill. Another sign of change? The way in which the federal government arrived at that decision.

  • Cyber Risk Report: Cybercrime Trends from 2016

    In our first half 2016 cyber trends report, SurfWatch Labs threat intelligence analysts noted one key theme – the interconnected nature of cybercrime – and the second half of the year saw organizations continuing to struggle with that reality. The number of potential cyber threats, the pool of already compromised information, and the ease of finding increasingly sophisticated cybercriminal tools continued to snowball throughout the year.

  • Featured Content from RSA Conference: Dissed by NIST

    Learn more about the latest draft of the U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology guidance document on authentication and lifecycle management.

  • GBC Issue Brief: The Future of 9-1-1

    A Look Into the Next Generation of Emergency Services

  • GBC Survey Report: Securing the Perimeters

    A candid survey on cybersecurity in state and local governments

  • The New IP: Moving Government Agencies Toward the Network of The Future

    Federal IT managers are looking to modernize legacy network infrastructures that are taxed by growing demands from mobile devices, video, vast amounts of data, and more. This issue brief discusses the federal government network landscape, as well as market, financial force drivers for network modernization.

  • eBook: State & Local Cybersecurity

    CenturyLink is committed to helping state and local governments meet their cybersecurity challenges. Towards that end, CenturyLink commissioned a study from the Government Business Council that looked at the perceptions, attitudes and experiences of state and local leaders around the cybersecurity issue. The results were surprising in a number of ways. Learn more about their findings and the ways in which state and local governments can combat cybersecurity threats with this eBook.


When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.