O'Keefe said agencies will be required to submit performance-based budgets for selected programs during the fiscal 2003 budget cycle, the first time agencies have been forced to tie their spending decisions to performance goals.
The new report urged scientific agencies and oversight groups to develop more realistic reporting schedules for their research. GPRA was designed to enable the administration and Congress to connect agencies' performance plans and reports to their annual budgets, but often basic research on programs must be monitored over several years to accurately gauge results, the report said.
"The timing [of GPRA] is unfortunate for several reasons …. Neither agencies nor the public receive a benefit when agencies create detailed performance plans before they have sufficient recent information on the performance of current programs," the report said. The report encouraged agencies and GPRA oversight bodies, such as Congress, the General Accounting Office and the Office of Management and Budget, to communicate more regularly and in a more collaborative fashion. Agencies had complained to the committee that oversight groups are often "quicker to criticize shortcomings than to suggest improvements."