In a first, Bush budget links funding to program performance

The Bush administration used performance analyses to make funding decisions for more than 100 federal programs in its fiscal 2003 budget proposal. The effort marks the first time an administration has formally linked federal spending to program performance. The White House cautioned that its method for rating programs was "far from perfect," but it did not offer specifics about the imperfections. Besides guiding funding choices, the program reviews were used to set performance targets for some programs and propose the elimination of others. The reviews generally sought to reward high-performing programs with bigger budgets, while shifting resources away from low-performing or duplicative programs. Programs were rated as "effective" or "ineffective," with a few "moderately effective" and "unknown" ratings included as well. The Agriculture Department's Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC) was judged effective and received a $364 million budget hike in the budget. WIC is successful in part because state offices pooled their purchasing power to negotiate lower prices on infant formula, according to the budget. On the other hand, funding for fossil energy research and development programs at the Energy Department was slashed from $101 million this year to $58 million in fiscal 2003 because the programs were judged ineffective and duplicative. Performance ratings were also used to shift funds from programs deemed ineffective to top administration priorities. At the Education Department, the budget redirects nearly $1 billion from 35 programs judged ineffective or of lesser priority to successful, high-priority programs. For example, the budget proposes only a minimal funding increase for Even Start, a family literacy program that has not been shown to work, according to the budget. Education's Special Education Grant to States program, a Bush priority, received a $1 billion spending hike, even though no performance data was presented to justify this increase. Some agencies received new performance goals along with funding hikes. The budget increases funding for the National Weather Service's early tornado warning system by $32 million with the proviso that the weather service must double the amount of advance warning time of tornados by 2015. The performance reviews grow out of a Bush administration initiative to link performance with budgets that was first announced in the fiscal 2002 budget. Making results a condition for funding-known as "performance budgeting"-is one of the administration's five governmentwide management priorities and was a chief goal of the 1993 Government Performance and Results Act. The Office of Management and Budget conducted the program reviews. To see all the reviews, click here.