Most Agencies Embrace Data-Driven Performance Reviews, Watchdog Finds

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Data-driven reviews of program effectiveness required under Congress’ agency management reform law can promote use of performance information by agency officials and produce improved results, the Government Accountability Office said in its latest survey of performance improvement officers.

“Most federal agencies reported conducting data-driven reviews frequently and regularly, involving agency leaders and other key personnel, and using the process to assess progress on agency goals and identify strategies to address challenges or improve performance,” the auditors wrote in an update of a 2013 survey required under the 2010 Government Performance and Results Modernization Act.

Agencies reported that regular meetings to review data “enhanced their progress toward the achievement of agency goals, the engagement of agency leaders in the performance management process, the level of collaboration between agency officials, the ability to hold agency officials accountable for progress on goals and milestones, and the efficiency of agency operations.”

GAO and the Office of Management and Budget have provided guidance on best practices for such reviews.

Five agencies, however, did not conduct the reviews in a manner consistent with requirements, guidance or leading practices, GAO added, and the Homeland Security Department has not been holding in-person data-driven reviews in support of its agency priority goals. The law requires such meetings at least once a quarter to identify goals that are at-risk and to develop strategies for improvements.

GAO made recommendations to DHS, and the Health and Human Services, State, Agriculture and Defense departments, asking for greater consistency in meeting requirements. The agencies for the most part agreed.

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