Rep. Cuellar hopes to influence agency management from appropriations post

Rep. Henry Cuellar, D-Texas, said his “over-arching goal on the committee is to create an efficient, effective, and accountable governmen Rep. Henry Cuellar, D-Texas, said his “over-arching goal on the committee is to create an efficient, effective, and accountable governmen Charles Dharapak/AP file photo

Rep. Henry Cuellar, D-Texas, author of the 2010 Government Performance and Results Modernization Act, plans to use his new post on the powerful House Appropriations Committee to further his long-standing efforts to improve agency efficiency and responsiveness.

“I am confident,” he said in a Monday statement to Government Executive, that GPRA “will give Congress better use of its ‘power of the purse’ to identify and eliminate wasteful spending, while transitioning into a more results-orientated government.”

Under the act, which requires the use of technology and data analytics to track mandatory agency goals, “agency performance reports will undergo reform by eliminating the burdensome, paper-mill reporting," he said. "Agencies will have high priority, cross-cutting, ambitious goals and quarterly reporting that Congress can actively use to make smarter, leaner budgetary decisions.”

He said his “over-arching goal on the committee is to create an efficient, effective, and accountable government to ensure that taxpayer dollars are spent wisely and rid our government of ill-informed spending habits.”

When Cuellar was named to the committee in December with a recommendation from the Democratic Steering and Policy Committee, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said he would “bring experience to the committee that controls the purse strings for government departments and agencies.”

Cuellar, who associates himself with the relatively conservative “Blue Dog Democrats,” has applauded the Obama administration’s Campaign to Cut Waste as well as its effort to repeal or revise regulations that are outdated or dubbed overly burdensome for businesses that may be hiring.

“It is essential to lower spending and find savings at the root of government operations, instead of leaving Americans to bear the brunt of cuts in education, Medicare or Social Security,” he said earlier. “I will continue to ensure that before we start cutting vital programs that [Americans] rely on, we streamline and modernize operations in an effort to do more with less.”

A key Cuellar bill, the Government Customer Service Improvement Act, would require the director of the Office of Management and Budget to develop performance measures to determine whether federal agencies are providing high-quality customer service and improving service delivery. It would require agencies to collect feedback from their “customers” on service quality and compel agencies to appoint a customer relations representative to issue guidelines and standards and make the results public.

Though it passed the House in September, a Senate version introduced by Sen. Mark Warner, D-Va., died in the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee as the 112th Congress ended.

A Warner spokeswoman on Monday said the senator is working with Cuellar to reintroduce the bill, and the two are also cooperating on oversight of agency compliance with the GRPA Modernization Act.

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