Bush administration publishes its final evaluation of program performance

The Bush administration on Friday published its final round of program performance ratings, leaving detailed assessments of more than 1,000 federal initiatives for its successors.

"The information … should serve as a baseline and beginning for the next administration," said Robert Shea, the Office of Management and Budget's associate director for administration and government performance.

Presidential candidates Barack Obama and John McCain have both indicated that they would continue to scrutinize program performance. In his Denver speech accepting the Democratic nomination, Obama vowed to go through the budget line by line and cut programs that aren't working. McCain, the Republican nominee, would freeze discretionary spending for all but essential military and veterans programs until he is able to complete top-to-bottom reviews of all programs and eliminate poor performers.

The final Bush administration evaluation indicated that 20 percent of programs are either ineffective or unable to provide meaningful information on their performance. The other 80 percent, OMB assessors concluded, are adequate or better. This round included scores for 67 programs that hadn't been rated before or had requested a reevaluation.

For the first time, agencies administering programs the Government Accountability Office has designated as high-risk outlined steps they are taking to address the watchdog agency's concerns. That information is included along with the program assessments on ExpectMore.gov.

Scores have improved significantly since the Bush administration introduced the Program Assessment Rating Tool. In February 2003, when OMB released the PART grades for the first major chunk of programs it planned to evaluate (20 percent), half couldn't demonstrate results, and just 44 percent were adequate or better.

"For the past seven years, OMB and federal agencies have done a tremendous job at assessing how well programs are working and where we fall short," Shea said.

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