OMB: Agencies need better performance data to justify budgets

If agencies want to see programs fully funded, they must start generating better performance data, Office of Management and Budget Director Mitch Daniels said Thursday. In the absence of quality data, OMB will view budget requests with a healthy dose of skepticism, he said.

"For far too long the question we seemed to address is 'How much?' not 'How well?'" Daniels told a joint hearing of subcommittees from the House Government Reform and Rules Committees. "It is time to put the burden of proof for spending where it should be-on the proponent of spending."

Starting with the fiscal 2004 budget process, OMB is requiring agencies to come up with better performance data. Through its program assessment rating tool, also known as PART, OMB is grading the effectiveness of more than 200 programs. While the initiative is not the only driver in budget decisions, it will have a significant impact on funding.

Some of the data needed for the assessments are already generated under the 1993 Government Performance and Results Act. But in general, that act has turned into a paperwork exercise and not lived up to its legislative intent of improving performance, Daniels told reporters after testifying.

While supportive of OMB's efforts, Comptroller General David Walker cautioned that initial expectations not be set too high. He called the quality and accuracy of performance data across the government "uneven."

"Credible outcome-based performance information is absolutely critical to foster the kind of debate that is needed," he said, adding that growing pressures on the federal budget during the next 10 years demand that decision-makers take a hard look at all program spending.

Daniels and Walker were quick to point out that Congress has to become an integral part of the process.

"The effectiveness of this endeavor rests on the seriousness in which Congress receives the findings," Daniels said.

Both men said efforts to link performance and the budget will be fruitless if congressional appropriators continue to fund programs year after year without looking at relevant performance data.

Rep. Stephen Horn, R-Calif., chairman of the Government Efficiency, Financial Management and Intergovernmental Relations Subcommittee agreed, saying lawmakers rarely consider if programs are meeting congressional intent.

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:

  • Sponsored by G Suite

    Cross-Agency Teamwork, Anytime and Anywhere

    Dan McCrae, director of IT service delivery division, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)

  • Data-Centric Security vs. Database-Level Security

    Database-level encryption had its origins in the 1990s and early 2000s in response to very basic risks which largely revolved around the theft of servers, backup tapes and other physical-layer assets. As noted in Verizon’s 2014, Data Breach Investigations Report (DBIR)1, threats today are far more advanced and dangerous.

  • Sponsored by One Identity

    One Nation Under Guard: Securing User Identities Across State and Local Government

    In 2016, the government can expect even more sophisticated threats on the horizon, making it all the more imperative that agencies enforce proper identity and access management (IAM) practices. In order to better measure the current state of IAM at the state and local level, Government Business Council (GBC) conducted an in-depth research study of state and local employees.

  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    The Next Federal Evolution of Cloud

    This GBC report explains the evolution of cloud computing in federal government, and provides an outlook for the future of the cloud in government IT.

  • Sponsored by LTC Partners, administrators of the Federal Long Term Care Insurance Program

    Approaching the Brink of Federal Retirement

    Approximately 10,000 baby boomers are reaching retirement age per day, and a growing number of federal employees are preparing themselves for the next chapter of their lives. Learn how to tackle the challenges that today's workforce faces in laying the groundwork for a smooth and secure retirement.

  • Sponsored by Hewlett Packard Enterprise

    Cyber Defense 101: Arming the Next Generation of Government Employees

    Read this issue brief to learn about the sector's most potent challenges in the new cyber landscape and how government organizations are building a robust, threat-aware infrastructure

  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    GBC Issue Brief: Cultivating Digital Services in the Federal Landscape

    Read this GBC issue brief to learn more about the current state of digital services in the government, and how key players are pushing enhancements towards a user-centric approach.


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