Agencies tighten the link between budget and performance

Nearly 30 federal agencies were able to show a direct link between budget requests and performance plans in fiscal 2002, according to a General Accounting Office report released Thursday. The 1993 Government Performance and Results Act (GPRA) requires agencies to develop performance-based goals and strategic plans to help them fulfill their missions. GPRA also calls for a more direct connection between budget requests and anticipated performance results. But in the years since its implementation, agencies have struggled to make the connection, amid much criticism from Congress. Most agencies link budget requests to expenses, such as salaries, travel and equipment, rather than to performance results. In its report, "Managing for Results: Agency Progress in Linking Performance Plans with Budgets and Financial Statements" (GAO-02-236), GAO reviewed the progress of 35 agencies in achieving a closer connection among performance planning, budgeting and financial reporting. The study found that almost 75 percent of the agencies made the connection in fiscal 2002, compared with 40 percent in fiscal 1999. "After years of asking agencies to provide more information on what results the American people are getting for their investment in the federal government, GAO is reporting that agencies are improving," said Sen. Fred Thompson, R-Tenn., who requested the report. "We should keep up the pressure so that eventually we can tell the American people what level of performance to expect from the programs we choose to fund." Agencies used different methods to achieve the goal, GAO found. The Environmental Protection Agency assigned program goals, such as reducing acid rain, to specific budget accounts. The Department of Housing and Urban Development linked its budget requests to each of its five general goals, such as ensuring equal opportunity in housing. Despite the improvement, GAO found that most agencies focused on general goals and did not get as specific as needed to help Congress make informed budget decisions and to help federal managers figure out how best to meet their missions. The Office of Management and Budget declined to comment on the report, but OMB is requiring agencies to submit performance-based budgets for selected programs with their fiscal 2003 budget requests. In a letter to OMB Director Mitch Daniels, Thompson asked for a progress report on agency compliance. "If we are to achieve the benefits of performance budgeting--the ability to communicate what results we are getting from government--we must insist that agencies do better," Thompson wrote.
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.