Republican congressional leaders took a further step this week to indicate that they intend to become heavily involved in monitoring the implementation of the Government Performance and Results Act (they've now taken to calling it simply the "Results Act"), which requires all agencies to submit strategic plans to Congress by Sept. 30.
On Tuesday, House Speaker Newt Gingrich, Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott, and a series of other key Republican leaders sent a letter to Office of Management and Budget Director Franklin Raines to "comment on the importance of agency consultations with Congress" as they develop their strategic plans.
For starters, the leaders say, agencies should begin such consultations "as soon as possible," with an eye toward completing the process before Congress' August recess.
Once agencies "have their mission, long-term goals and strategies roughed out," the leaders told Raines, they "should submit a draft plan to the chairman and ranking member of all major authorizing, appropriating, oversight and budget committees in the House and Senate with jurisdiction over their programs in advance of any consultations, allowing the draft document to serve as the starting point for discussions."
What's more, the GOP leaders want agencies to send their draft plans directly to Congress, without clearing them through OMB first. Requiring OMB clearance, they told Raines, "would not only make the consultation process cumbersome, but does not reflect the iterative nature of government planning as envisioned by the Results Act."
Each agency's draft strategic plan, the Republican leaders say, should contain a concise mission statement, outcome goals for achieving the mission, performance measures that will be used to track the goals, and indications of how the agency will present its analysis of its performance in annual reports.
Agencies should also be prepared, the letter says, to identify the stakeholders they consulted in coming up with their plans, detail how they will coordinate their activities with other agencies working in similar activities, discuss areas where the agency is asking for increased flexibility to "break the mold" or pursue an "outside the box" strategy to meet its goals, and detail how goals, strategies and performance measures will be linked to agencies' annual budget requests.
In addition to Gingrich and Lott, the other signers of the letter to Raines were: House Majority Leader Dick Armey, R-Texas; Rep. Dan Burton, R-Ind., chairman of the House Government Reform and Oversight Committee; House Budget Committee Chairman John Kasich, R-Ohio; House Appropriations Committee Chairman Bob Livingston, R-La.; Sen. Larry Craig, R-Idaho, chairman of the Senate Policy Committee; Senate Governmental Affairs Committee Chairman Fred Thompson, R-Tenn., Senate Budget Committee Chairman Pete Domenici, R-N.M.; and Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Ted Stevens, R-Alaska.