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Managing for Results in Government

Effective performance management helps the federal government to improve outcomes in areas that affect nearly every aspect of Americans’ lives, from education, healthcare, and housing to national and homeland security.

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The GPRA Modernization Act of 2010 (GPRAMA) (Public Law 111-352) provides enhanced performance planning, management, and reporting tools that can help inform congressional and executive branch decision making to address significant challenges facing our nation. If effectively implemented, GPRAMA could improve information sharing and coordination among federal agencies while helping address issues that hinder the government’s ability to address fragmentation, overlap, and duplication. For information and resources on GPRAMA requirements, see table.

Click on the left column to sort alphabetically by requirement and the right column to sort alphabetically by general management topic.

GPRAMA RequirementGeneral Topic
Agency Strategic Plan

Agency Strategic Plan

Overview | Strategic Planning Process | Mission Statement | General Goals and Objectives |
Contribution to Federal Government Priority Goals
| Strategies and Resources | Interagency Collaboration
Input from Congressional Consultations | Relationship to Performance Goals | External Factors | Program Evaluations

Overview

Requirements

When developing or updating its strategic plan, the agency is to follow certain requirements for the planning process and must ensure that its strategic plan contains specific elements:

  • mission statement;
  • general (also known as strategic or long-term) goals and objectives;
  • a description of how any goals and objectives contribute to federal government priority goals;
  • a description of interagency collaboration to achieve the agency’s goals and objectives;
  • a description of the strategies and resources required to achieve the agency’s goals and objectives;
  • a description of how the agency’s goals and objectives incorporate input from congressional consultations;
  • a description of how the agency’s performance goals and priority goals relate to the general goals and objectives;
  • an identification of external factors that could significantly affect the achievement of the agency’s goals and objectives; and
  • program evaluations used to establish or review the agency’s general goals and objectives.

5 U.S.C. § 306.

Select Legislative History

Strategic plans are the starting point and basic underpinning for a system of program goal setting and performance measurement throughout the federal government. A multi-year strategic plan articulates the fundamental mission (or missions) of an organization, and lays out its long-term general goals for implementing that mission, including the resources needed to reach these goals. S. Rep. No. 111-372, at 3 (2010).

Related GAO Work

GAO has elaborated on and suggested several practices that support this requirement, including:

Strategic Planning Process

Requirements

At least every 4 years, each agency is required to issue a strategic plan concurrent with the President’s Budget in the second year of a presidential term—beginning in 2014. The agency is to make the plan available on its website and notify the President and Congress of its availability. 5 U.S.C. § 306(a).

The strategic plan is to cover at least a 4-year period. As needed, the agency may make adjustments to the strategic plan to reflect significant changes in its operating environment, with appropriate notification of Congress. 5 U.S.C. § 306(b).

At least every 2 years, including when developing or making adjustments to a strategic plan, the agency is to consult with Congress, including obtaining majority and minority views from the appropriate authorizing, appropriations, and oversight committees. 5 U.S.C. § 306(d).

The agency is also to solicit and consider the views and suggestions of its stakeholders when developing or making adjustments to a strategic plan. 5 U.S.C. § 306(d).

The functions and activities related to agency strategic planning are considered inherently governmental functions, only to be performed by federal employees. 5 U.S.C. § 306(e).

Select Legislative History

The Act requires strategic plans cover a period of no less than four years and allows the agency to make adjustments to the plan to reflect significant changes in its operating environment, with appropriate notification to Congress. This is not to mean that an agency should frequently modify its existing strategic plans; rather the intent is to provide agencies the flexibility to respond to an event that significantly changes the operating environment. S. Rep. No. 111-372, at 3-4 (2010).

If agencies wait to consult with relevant congressional stakeholders until a strategic plan has been substantially drafted and vetted within the executive branch, agencies forego important opportunities to learn early on about specific concerns that will be critical to successful implementation. Therefore, the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs again strongly emphasized that Congressional consultations are to take place during the development of the plan—not after. S. Rep. No. 111-372, at 5 (2010).

This legislation clarifies that the agency shall periodically consult with and obtain majority and minority views from its authorizing, appropriations, and oversight committees when developing or making adjustments to its strategic plan. It also requires Congressional consultations occur at least once every two years; this is to ensure that each Congress has input on the goals, objectives, strategies, and performance measures of the agency. Moreover, it allows the agency to have an opportunity to provide a progress report on its performance and ensures that various committees are getting the types of performance information they need. S. Rep. No. 111-372, at 5 (2010).

Related GAO Work

GAO has elaborated on and suggested several practices that support this requirement, including:

Mission Statement

Requirements

The agency strategic plan is to contain a comprehensive mission statement covering the major functions and operations of the agency. 5 U.S.C. § 306(a)(1).

Select Legislative History

The agency mission statement should concisely summarize what the agency does, as required by law, presenting the main purposes for all its major functions and operations. S. Rep. No. 103-58, at 24 (1993).

Related GAO Work

GAO has elaborated on and suggested several practices that support this requirement, including:

General Goals and Objectives (also known as Strategic Goals)

Requirements

The agency strategic plan is to contain general (also known as strategic or long-term) goals and objectives, including outcome-oriented goals, for the major functions and operations of the agency. 5 U.S.C. § 306(a)(2).

Select Legislative History

The general goals should elaborate on the mission statement. These goals constitute a specific set of policy, programmatic, management objectives for the programs and operations covered in the strategic plan, and serve as a framework from which the annual performance goals are derived. The general goals should correspond to the purposes set forth in the mission statement, and develop with greater specificity how an agency will carry out its mission. The general goals do not need to be in a quantitative or measurable form, but they must be expressed in a manner that allows a future assessment of whether a goal is being achieved. S. Rep. No. 103-58, at 24 (1993).

Related GAO Work

GAO has elaborated on and suggested several practices that support this requirement, including:

Contribution to Federal Government Priority Goals

Requirements

The agency strategic plan is to contain a description of how any goals and objectives contribute to the Federal Government priority goals, also known as crosscutting goals. 5 U.S.C. § 306(a)(3).

Select Legislative History

The Act requires agencies to describe how any goals and objectives in its strategic plan contribute to the crosscutting federal government priority goals required by this legislation. This mandate seeks to ensure that agency goals align with broader federal efforts on that mission, and to provide greater clarity regarding the impact of employee efforts on overarching goals. S. Rep. No. 111-372, at 4 (2010).

Related GAO Work

GAO has elaborated on this requirement:

  • aligning federal efforts vertically (GAO-04-38, p. 105).

Strategies and Resources

Requirements

The agency strategic plan is to contain a description of how the general goals and objectives are to be achieved, including a description of the operational processes, skills and technology, and the human capital, information, and other resources required to achieve those goals and objectives. 5 U.S.C. § 306(a)(4)(A).

Select Legislative History

The strategic plan is also to contain a description of how the agency intends to achieve the general goals. This description should cover the overall approach that will be taken over the time period covered by the plan, including a schedule for significant actions and the needed resources. S. Rep. No. 103-58, at 24-25 (1993).

Related GAO Work

GAO has elaborated on and suggested several practices that support this requirement, including:

  • fully developing strategies, including those to address management challenges (GAO/GGD-97-180, pp. 12-15);

Interagency Collaboration

Requirements

The agency strategic plan is to contain a description of how the agency is working with other agencies to achieve its general goals and objectives as well as relevant federal government priority goals. 5 U.S.C. § 306(a)(4)(B).

Select Legislative History

Across the federal government, various agencies operate similar or related programs. GAO has found that mission fragmentation and program overlap are widespread across the government and that addressing this challenge is essential to the success of national strategies in areas such as homeland security, drug control, and the environment. Without appropriate coordination, such programs may be implemented in a fragmented manner which wastes scarce resources, confuses citizens, and limits the overall effectiveness of the federal effort. The Act requires an agency to describe how it is working with other agencies to achieve its own goals and objectives, as well as the crosscutting priority goals of the federal government. S. Rep. No. 111-372, at 4 (2010).

Related GAO Work

GAO has elaborated on and suggested several practices that support this requirement, including:

Input from Congressional Consultations

Requirements

The agency strategic plan is to contain a description of how the goals and objectives incorporate views and suggestions obtained through congressional consultations. 5 U.S.C. § 306(a)(5).

Select Legislative History

The Government Performance and Results Act of 1993 established a consultation process so that agencies could take Congressional views into account as appropriate. The GPRA Modernization Act of 2010 strengthens the Congressional consultation process by encouraging agencies to describe how agency goals and objectives incorporate the views and suggestions obtained through consultations with Congress. S. Rep. No. 111-372, at 5 (2010).

If agencies wait to consult with relevant congressional stakeholders until a strategic plan has been substantially drafted and vetted within the executive branch, agencies forego important opportunities to learn early on about specific concerns that will be critical to successful implementation. Therefore, this Committee again strongly emphasizes that Congressional consultations are to take place during the development of the plan—not after. S. Rep. No. 111-372, at 5 (2010).

Related GAO Work

GAO has elaborated on and suggested several practices that support this requirement, including:

Relationship to Performance Goals

Requirements

The agency strategic plan is to contain a description of how the performance goals provided in the agency performance plan—including any agency priority goals if applicable—contribute to the general goals and objectives. 5 U.S.C. § 306(a)(6).

Select Legislative History

The strategic plan should indicate how the goals of the annual performance plans will be used to measure progress in achieving the general goals of the strategic plan, and the underlying basis for any assumptions or projections. S. Rep. No. 103-58, at 25 (1993).

Related GAO Work

GAO has elaborated on and suggested several practices that support this requirement, including:

  • linking strategic goals and performance goals (GAO/GGD-97-180, p. 9); and
  • reviewing the relationship between agency strategic goals and performance goals (GAO/GGD-10.1.16, pp. 16-17).

External Factors

Requirements

The agency strategic plan is to contain an identification of those key factors external to the agency and beyond its control that could significantly affect the achievement of the general goals and objectives. 5 U.S.C. § 306(a)(7).

Select Legislative History

The key external factors that could significantly affect the achievement of the general goals and objectives, and which should be explained in the strategic plan, can include both governmental and non-governmental factors. S. Rep. No. 103-58, at 25 (1993).

Related GAO Work

GAO has elaborated on and suggested several practices that support this requirement, including:

Program Evaluations

Requirements

The agency strategic plan is to contain a description of the program evaluations used in establishing or revising general goals and objectives, with a schedule for future program evaluations to be conducted. 5 U.S.C. § 306(a)(8).

Select Legislative History

Program evaluation is an objective and formal assessment of the results, impact, or effects of a program or policy. While most often aimed at assessing the degree to which a program's stated objectives are being or have been realized, program evaluations are also frequently used for measurement of "unintended" results, good or bad, that were not explicitly included in the original statement of objectives or foreseen in the implementation design. Thus, they can serve to validate or find error in the basic purposes and premises that underlay a program or policy. Finally, this definition should be read as including evaluations of program implementation process and operating policies and practices when the primary concern is about these issues rather than program outcome. However, the definition is not intended to include program monitoring activities that are (or should be) a routine component of good program management. S. Rep. No. 103-58, at 32-33 (1993).

Because measurement of outcomes often relies on an analytic process known as program evaluation, the strategic plan is to contain a section explaining how completed evaluations were used to establish or revise general (long-term or strategic) goals, and set out a schedule for periodic future program evaluations. S. Rep. No. 103-58, at 25 (1993).

Related GAO Work

GAO has elaborated on and suggested several practices that support this requirement, including:

  • criteria and procedures for deciding which programs to review (GAO-11-176);
  • conducting special studies to provide data on results that are otherwise unavailable, explain the reasons for observed performance, or identify ways to improve performance (GAO/GGD-00-204, pp.6-13);
  • the importance of discussions between congressional staff and agency officials concerning information needs when planning new studies (GAO-GGD-00-35, pp.20-21);
  • the complementary roles of program evaluation and performance measurement (GAO-11-646SP);
  • supplementing performance data with impact evaluations to provide a more complete picture of effectiveness (GAO/GGD-97-180, pp. 20-21); and
  • reviewing the program evaluation information contained in strategic plans (GAO/GGD-10.1.16, pp. 20-21).
Strategic Planning
Agency Priority Goals

Agency Priority Goals


Requirements

Every 2 years beginning in 2012, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) is to determine the total number of agency priority goals across the government and how they are divided among agencies. If selected to develop such goals, the agency is to identify priority goals from among its performance goals. 31 U.S.C. § 1120(b)(1).

The agency priority goals are to

  • reflect the agency’s highest priorities, as determined by the agency head and informed by the federal government priority goals and the consultations with Congress and other interested parties required for the agency strategic planning process;
  • have ambitious targets that can be achieved within 2 years;
  • have a clearly identified agency official, known as a goal leader, who is responsible for achieving each goal;
  • have interim quarterly targets for performance indicators if more frequent updates of actual performance provides data of significant value to the federal government, Congress, or program partners at a reasonable level of administrative burden; and
  • have clearly defined quarterly milestones.

31 U.S.C. § 1120(b)(1).

If the agency priority goal includes any classified program activities or information, information about the agency priority goal is to be included in the classified appendix of the agency’s performance plan. 31 U.S.C. § 1120(b)(2).

The functions and activities related to developing agency priority goals are considered inherently governmental functions, only to be performed by federal employees. 31 U.S.C. § 1120(c).

Select Legislative History

The Act requires the head of each of the 24 CFO agencies or other agencies as determined by the Director of OMB to identify agency priority goals from among the agency’s performance goals. The Director of OMB would have authority to determine the total number of agency priority goals across the federal government, as well as the number of priority goals to be developed by each agency. The Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs (the Committee) expected the total number of federal goals would not exceed 100 and agency priority goals would not exceed five per agency, while acknowledging variation may exist depending on the size and mission of a given agency. S. Rep. No. 111-372, at 9 (2010).

As the name implies, agency priority goals should reflect the agency’s highest priorities, as determined by the head of the agency. Such goals should be informed by any federal government priority goals to which the agency contributes. The priority goals have a two year timeframe, with ambitious but achievable performance targets and milestones. These should be ‘‘stretch’’ goals—the agency should set the goal to exceed its normal level of performance, but within reasonable reach. Although the language of the Act states that the goals are to be achievable, the Committee understood that external factors may cause agencies to fall short at times and a certain percentage of missed goals is acceptable. Since agency will likely select some complex and long-term challenges as target for improvement, the Committee expected that many priority goals would continue from a given two year cycle to the next, with updated performance targets and milestones all leading to a clearly defined end state. As with each of the agency’s other performance goals, each priority goal should have a clearly identified leader who is responsible for reaching the given goal. S. Rep. No. 111-372, at 9 (2010).

Related GAO Work

GAO has elaborated on and suggested several practices that support this requirement, including:

Goals
Agency Performance Plan

Agency Performance Plan

Overview | Performance Planning Process | Performance Goals | Contribution to General (or Strategic) Goals
Contribution to Federal Government Performance Goals | Identification of Agency Priority Goals | Strategies and Resources | Milestones
Contributing Federal Organizations, Programs, and Activities | Interagency Collaboration | Identification of Goal Leaders
Balanced Set of Performance Indicators | Basis for Comparing Results | Data Accuracy and Reliability | Major Management Challenges | Low Priority Programs

Overview

Requirements

When updating its performance plan, the agency is to follow certain requirements for the planning process and must ensure that its performance plan contains specific elements:

  • agency performance goals;
  • a description of how the agency performance goals contribute to the agency’s general (or strategic) goals;
  • a description of how the agency performance goals contribute to any federal government performance goals;
  • an identification of agency priority goals;
  • a description of the strategies and resources required to meet the agency performance goals;
  • clearly defined milestones;
  • an identification of the organizations, program activities, regulations, policies, and other activities that contribute to each performance goal, both within and external to the agency;
  • a description of interagency collaboration to achieve the agency performance goals and the federal government performance goals;
  • an identification of goal leaders;
  • balanced set of performance indicators;
  • basis for comparing results;
  • a description of how the agency will ensure data accuracy and reliability;
  • a description of major management challenges; and
  • an identification of low-priority programs.

31 U.S.C. § 1115(b).

Select Legislative History

Annual program performance plans are what provide the direct linkage between an agency's longer-term goals (as defined in the strategic plan) and what its managers and staff are doing on a day-to-day basis. These plans are often hierarchical in form, showing what annual performance goals need to be accomplished at each level in order for the next higher level to meet its own goals. S. Rep. No. 103-58, at 15 (1993).

Performance goals may relate to either "outputs" or "outcomes", the latter usually being the most important for policy purposes, but the former often being a useful management tool (especially when their per-unit costs are also tracked). A common weakness in program performance plans is an over-reliance on output measures, to the neglect of outcomes. Eligible clients completing a job training program are outputs; an increase in their rate of long-term employment would be an outcome. There could be similar outcome goals measuring the effectiveness of federal community development block grants, such as percentage increases in property values and net new jobs created within the targeted areas. Even at the lowest operational level, there can be goals for processing time, error rates, customer/citizen- satisfaction levels, etc. S. Rep. No. 103-58, at 15 (1993).

It is very important that annual performance plans include goals, not just for the quantity of effort, but also for the quality of that effort. These goals should be as specific as possible, they should drive much of the daily operations of the agency, and they should aim at achieving the long-term general goals of the agency's strategic plan. S. Rep. No. 103-58, at 15 (1993).

It is also important that the resources needed to achieve the goals be indicated as part of the plan. The Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs was concerned about the "hollow government" phenomenon—where an agency has inadequate resources to meet its public missions. Whether the proper remedy is to increase the level of resources allocated, or to reduce the level of service to which the agency is committed, both should be brought into balance. The annual performance plan should show how program goals will be supported through sufficient management skills and human, budgetary, and physical resources. S. Rep. No. 103-58, at 16 (1993).

Not all governmental programs lend themselves easily to measurable goals. For some it will be very difficult, and for a few, perhaps impractical altogether. Nonetheless, managers should resist the temptation to decide too quickly that a particular program is unsuitable for measurable goals. The fundamental question is, what is the difference between a successful program and a failure? Between a well-run operation and one that is mismanaged? How can we tell the difference, and how should that be defined? If the difference cannot be defined, then is that not just an invitation to waste, inefficiency, and ineffectiveness? S. Rep. No. 103-58, at 16 (1993).

Related GAO Work

GAO has elaborated on and suggested several practices that support this requirement, including:

Performance Planning Process

Requirements

Each year, published concurrently with the President’s Budget, the agency is to update its performance plan to show the expected level of performance to be achieved in the current and next fiscal years. The agency is to make the plan available on its website and notify the President and Congress of its availability. 31 U.S.C. § 1115(b).

The performance plan is to cover each program activity set forth in the agency’s budget. An agency may aggregate, disaggregate, or consolidate program activities, except that any aggregation or consolidation may not omit or minimize the significance of any program activity constituting a major function or operation. 31 U.S.C. § 1115(b), (d).

The performance plan is to be consistent with the agency’s strategic plan. The agency may not submit a performance plan for a fiscal year not covered by a current strategic plan. 5 U.S.C. § 306(c).

The agency may submit a classified appendix covering any portion of the performance plan that is specifically authorized under established criteria to be kept secret in the interest of national defense or foreign policy and is properly classified as so. 31 U.S.C. § 1115(e).

The functions and activities related to agency performance planning are considered inherently governmental functions, only to be performed by federal employees. 31 U.S.C. § 1115(f).

If the agency has a Chief Human Capital Officer (CHCO), the CHCO is to prepare the strategies and resources section of the performance plan. 31 U.S.C. § 1115(g).

Select Legislative History

The Act requires that an agency’s performance plan cover a two-year period, including both the current fiscal year and the next one. Under a prior law, an agency’s performance plan was only required to cover the next fiscal year. Adding the current year requirement will enable an agency to update its current year goals, milestones, and strategies to reflect actual resources and any changes in the operating environment that differ from what was expected when the original plan was submitted the previous year. This, in turn, will provide a more up-to-date context for evaluating the goals for the upcoming fiscal year. S. Rep. No. 111-372, at 5-6 (2010).

The activity structure in the Budget of the United States Government is not consistent across various programs, being tailored to individual accounts. This lack of uniformity results in—for the purposes of this Act—too many program listings for some accounts and an overly broad aggregation for others. A single account may contain ten or more projects or activities. The annual plans are not intended to be voluminous presentations describing performance at every level for every activity. The annual plans and reports are to inform, not overwhelm the reader. The agencies are expected to use good judgment in determining the array of program activities presented in the plan, and to consolidate, aggregate, or disaggregate the lists of program activities appearing in the budget accounts. S. Rpt. No. 103-58, at 31 (1993).

For certain government functions and operations, many key performance goals and indicators should not be publicly revealed. Publishing them could, for example, compromise national defense or undercut negotiating strategy with other countries. The Act allows an agency to prepare a classified or non-public annex to its annual performance plan covering program activities that relate to national security and the conduct of foreign affairs. The parameters set out in the Freedom of Information Act may be useful to agencies in determining whether material belongs in such an annex. An agency preparing a classified non-public annex is expected to minimize the number of performance goals and indicators contained therein. S. Rpt. No. 103-58, at 31 (1993).

Related GAO Work

GAO has suggested several practices that support this requirement, including:

Performance Goals

Requirements

The agency performance plan is to establish performance goals—expressed in an objective, quantifiable, and measurable form, unless otherwise authorized—to define the level of performance to be achieved during the current and next fiscal years. 31 U.S.C. § 1115(b)(1), (2).

If an agency, in consultation with the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), determines it is not feasible to express the performance goals for a particular program activity in an objective, quantifiable, and measurable form, OMB may authorize an alternative form. 31 U.S.C. § 1115(c).

Select Legislative History

Annual performance goals are the major means for gauging progress toward accomplishment of the longer-term general or strategic goals contained in the strategic plan. The Act specifies that most performance goals are to be expressed in an objective, quantifiable, and measurable form. It is important that a performance goal be defined with sufficient precision to permit ready assessment of progress in meeting that goal. There may be several performance goals for any general goal in a strategic plan. S. Rep. No. 103-58, at 29 (1993).

The performance goals should conform with the level of resources requested for the relevant program activities in the Budget of the United States Government. Agencies are expected to make appropriate adjustments to the annual plans in order to reflect the staffing and funding levels in the budget. S. Rep. No. 103-58, at 29 (1993).

Related GAO Work

GAO has elaborated on and suggested several practices that support this requirement, including:


Contribution to General (or Strategic) Goals

Requirements

The agency performance plan is to describe how the performance goals contribute to the general goals and objectives established in the agency’s strategic plan. 31 U.S.C. § 1115(b)(3)(A).

Select Legislative History

GAO has stated that a clear relationship should exist between an agency’s long-term strategic goals and mission and the performance goals in the annual performance plan. The Act requires an agency to describe how the performance goals contained in its performance plan contribute to the goals and objectives established in the agency’s strategic plan, as well as any overall federal government performance goals. S. Rep. No. 111-372, at 5 (2010).

Related GAO Work

GAO has elaborated on and suggested several practices that support this requirement, including:

Contribution to Federal Government Performance Goals

Requirements

The agency performance plan is to describe how the performance goals contribute to any of the Federal Government performance goals established in the Federal Government performance plan. 31 U.S.C. § 1115(b)(3)(B).

Select Legislative History

GAO has stated that a clear relationship should exist between an agency’s long-term strategic goals and mission and the performance goals in the annual performance plan. The Act requires an agency to describe how the performance goals contained in its performance plan contribute to the goals and objectives established in the agency’s strategic plan, as well as any overall federal government performance goals. S. Rep. No. 111-372, at 5 (2010).

Related GAO Work

GAO has elaborated on this requirement:

  • aligning federal efforts vertically (GAO-04-38, p. 105).

Identification of Agency Priority Goals

Requirements

The agency performance plan is to identify the performance goals designated as agency priority goals, if applicable. 31 U.S.C. § 1115(b)(4).

Select Legislative History

The Act requires the head of each of the 24 CFO agencies or other agencies as determined by OMB to identify agency priority goals from among the agency’s performance goals. S. Rep. No. 111-372, at 9 (2010).

Strategies and Resources

Requirements

The agency performance plan is to provide a description of how the performance goals are to be achieved, including the operation processes, training, skills and technology, and the human capital, information, and other resources and strategies required to meet those performance goals. 31 U.S.C. § 1115(b)(5)(A).

Select Legislative History

It is important that the resources needed to achieve the goals be indicated as part of the plan. The Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs was concerned about the “hollow government” phenomenon—where an agency has inadequate resources to meet its public missions. Whether the proper remedy is to increase the level of resources allocated, or to reduce the level of service to which the agency is committed, both should be brought into balance. The annual performance plan should show how program goals will be supported through sufficient management skills and human, budgetary, and physical resources. S. Rep. No. 103-58, at 16 (1993).

Without a clear description of the strategies and resources an agency plans to use, it will be difficult for Congress to assess the likelihood of the agency’s success in achieving its intended results. By describing the strategies to be used to achieve results and the resources to be applied to those strategies, the performance plan can help Congress understand and assess the relationship between the agency’s resources and results. S. Rep. No. 111-372, at 6 (2010).

Related GAO Work

GAO has elaborated on and suggested several practices that support this requirement, including:

Milestones

Requirements

The agency performance plan is to provide a description of how the performance goals are to be achieved, including clearly defined milestones. 31 U.S.C. § 1115(b)(5)(B).

Select Legislative History

The key to improving performance accountability is to document the results agencies have achieved compared to the goals they have established. Therefore, the Act requires an agency to provide additional information about how the agency plans to achieve its performance goals by identifying clearly defined milestones, the agency officials responsible for ensuring each goal is achieved, and the program activities, regulations, policies and other activities that support each goal. S. Rep. No. 111-372, at 6 (2010).

Contributing Federal Organizations, Programs, and Activities

Requirements

The agency performance plan is to identify the organizations, program activities, regulations, policies, and other activities that contribute to each performance goal, both within and external to the agency. 31 U.S.C. § 1115(b)(5)(C).

Select Legislative History

The key to improving performance accountability is to document the results agencies have achieved compared to the goals they have established. Therefore, the Act requires an agency to provide additional information about how the agency plans to achieve its performance goals by identifying clearly defined milestones, the agency officials responsible for ensuring each goal is achieved, and the program activities, regulations, policies and other activities that support each goal. S. Rep. No. 111-372, at 6 (2010).

Related GAO Work

GAO has elaborated on and suggested several practices that support this requirement, including:

Interagency Collaboration

Requirements

The agency performance plan is to describe how the agency is working with other agencies to achieve its performance goals as well as relevant federal government performance goals. 31 U.S.C. § 1115(b)(5)(D).

Select Legislative History

Across the federal government, various agencies operate similar or related programs. GAO has found that mission fragmentation and program overlap are widespread across the government and that addressing this challenge is essential to the success of national strategies in areas such as homeland security, drug control, and the environment. Without appropriate coordination, such programs may be implemented in a fragmented manner which wastes scarce resources, confuses citizens, and limits the overall effectiveness of the federal effort. The Act requires an agency to describe how it is working with other agencies to achieve its own goals and objectives, as well as the crosscutting priority goals of the federal government. S. Rep. No. 111-372, at 4 (2010).

Related GAO Work

GAO has elaborated on and suggested several practices that support this requirement, including:

Identification of Goal Leaders

Requirements

The agency performance plan is to identify the agency officials responsible for the achievement of each performance goal, who shall be known as goal leaders. 31 U.S.C. § 1115(b)(5)(E).

Select Legislative History

The key to improving performance accountability is to document the results agencies have achieved compared to the goals they have established. Therefore, the Act requires an agency to provide additional information about how the agency plans to achieve its performance goals by identifying clearly defined milestones, the agency officials responsible for ensuring each goal is achieved, and the program activities, regulations, policies and other activities that support each goal. S. Rep. No. 111-372, at 6 (2010).

Related GAO Work

GAO has elaborated on and suggested several practices that support this requirement, including:

  • demonstrating management involvement (GAO-05-927, pp. 19-20); and
  • strengthening leadership commitment to creating and sustaining results-oriented management (GAO-04-38, pp. 69-75 and 101-103).

Balanced Set of Performance Indicators

Requirements

The agency performance plan is to establish a balanced set of performance indicators to be used in measuring or assessing progress toward each performance goal, including, as appropriate, customer service, efficiency, output, and outcome indicators. 31 U.S.C. § 1115(b)(6).

Select Legislative History

For most performance goals, a number of performance indicators should be developed. Performance indicators are the reference markers used to measure whether a goal is being achieved. In some instances, the performance goal may be self-measuring and no separate indicators are needed. S. Rep. No. 103-58, at 29 (1993).

Agencies should develop a range of related performance indicators, such as quantity, quality, timeliness, cost, and outcome. A range is important because most program activities require managers to balance their priorities among several subgoals. Reliance on any single measure could create a perverse incentive for managers to achieve one subgoal at the expense of the others. While a range of measures are important for program management and should be included in agency performance plans, measures of program outcomes, not outputs, are the key set of measures that should be reported to OMB and Congress. S. Rep. No. 103-58, at 29 (1993).

Related GAO Work

GAO has elaborated on and suggested several practices that support this requirement, including:

  • attributes of successful performance measures (GAO-03-143, pp. 45-53);
  • creating a set of performance measures that address important dimensions of program performance and balance competing demands (GAO/GGD/AIMD-99-69, pp. 10-13);
  • using intermediate measures to show progress or contribution to intended results (GAO/GGD/AIMD-99-69, p.13; GAO/GGD-10.1.20, pp. 16-18);
  • selecting a mix of outcome goals over which the agency has varying levels of control (GAO/GGD-99-16, pp.8-12); and
  • establishing hierarchies of performance measures throughout the agency (GAO/GGD/AIMD-10.1.18, pp. 10-11; GAO/GGD-96-118, pp. 24-27).

Basis for Comparing Results

Requirements

The agency performance plan is to provide a basis for comparing actual program results with the established performance goals. 31 U.S.C. § 1115(b)(7).

Select Legislative History

It is important that a performance goal be defined with sufficient precision to permit ready assessment of progress in meeting that goal. S. Rep. No. 103-58, at 29 (1993).

Related GAO Work

GAO has elaborated on and suggested several practices that support this requirement, including:

Data Accuracy and Reliability

Requirements

The agency performance plan is to identify how the agency will ensure the accuracy and reliability of the data used to measure progress towards its performance goals, including an identification of

  • the means to be used to verify and validate measured values;
  • the sources for the data;
  • the level of accuracy required for the intended use of the data;
  • any limitations to the data at the required level of accuracy; and
  • how the agency will compensate for such limitations if needed to reach the required level of accuracy.

31 U.S.C. § 1115(b)(8).

Select Legislative History

Credible performance information is essential for accurately assessing an agency’s progress towards its goals and, in cases where goals are not met, identifying opportunities for improvement or whether goals need to be adjusted. In order to improve the credibility of performance data, the Act requires an agency to provide additional information about how it will ensure the validity and reliability of such data. S. Rep. No. 111-372, at 6 (2010).

In verifying and validating measured values, an agency may use an audit or any other procedure that would support the general accuracy and reliability of information contained in the annual performance report. To the extent that the annual performance report contains audited performance information that is also included in the annual financial statemen no further validation of such information is required. S. Rep. No. 103-58, at 30 (2010).

The success of the Act depends to a large degree on the reliability and utility of the information presented, and special attention will be needed to ensure credibility. This will require efforts by all parties at all stages—agency data collection, OMB guidance and supervision and Congressional and GAO oversight. S. Rep. No. 103-58, at 30 (2010).

Related GAO Work

GAO has elaborated on and suggested several practices that support this requirement, including:

Major Management Challenges

Requirements

The agency performance plan is to describe major management challenges the agency faces and identify

  • planned actions to address such challenges;
  • performance goals, performance indicators, and milestones to measure progress toward resolving such challenges; and
  • the agency official responsible for resolving such challenges.

31 U.S.C. § 1115(b)(9).

Select Legislative History

The Act requires the agency to identify its major management challenges and identify how it plans to address those challenges. S. Rep. No. 111-372, at 16 (2010).

Related GAO Work

GAO has elaborated on and suggested several practices that support this requirement, including:

  • building agency capacity to systematically collect, analyze, and use data on program results (GAO-03-454);
  • developing performance goals to address mission-critical management problems (GAO/GGD/AIMD-99-69, pp. 14-15); and
  • discussing strategies to resolve mission-critical management problems (GAO/GGD/AIMD-99-69, p. 26).

Low Priority Programs

Requirements

The agency performance plan is to identify low-priority program activities based on an analysis of their contribution to the mission and goals of the agency and include an evidence-based justification for designating a program activity as low priority. 31 U.S.C. § 1115(b)(10).

Select Legislative History

Performance plans must also analyze how program activities contribute to the agency’s mission and goals. Inevitably, some program activities may not contribute or have limited contributions to an agency’s annual performance goals and will be designated as low-priority program activities. The Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs expected that agencies would take actions to address these low-priority program activities, which could include retooling the program activities where authorized, requesting legislative changes to improve the program activities, or proposing their termination or consolidation with any similar program activities. S. Rep. No. 111-372, at 6 (2010).

Performance Planning and Reporting
Agency Quarterly Reviews

Agency Quarterly Priority Progress Reviews

Requirements

At least quarterly—for agencies selected to develop agency priority goals—the agency head and (COO), with the support of the agency performance improvement officer (PIO), are to review with the goal leader for each agency priority goal

  • the progress made toward achieving the goal during the most recent quarter;
  • overall trend data; and
  • the likelihood of meeting the planned level of performance.

31 U.S.C. § 1121(b)(1).

The reviews are to include coordination with officials from federal organizations, programs, and activities that contribute to achieving each agency priority goal, both within and from outside the agency. 31 U.S.C. § 1121(b)(2).

At these reviews, the agency head and COO are to

  • assess whether relevant federal organizations, program activities, regulations, policies, and other activities are contributing as planned to the agency priority goals;
  • categorize agency priority goals by their risk of not being achieved; and
  • identify strategies to improve performance for those agency priority goals at greatest risk of not being met, including any needed changes to agency program activities, regulations, policies, or other activities.

31 U.S.C. § 1121(b)(3), (4), (5).

Select Legislative History

For each agency priority goal, the head of the agency and the COO, with the support of the agency PIO, reviews the progress achieved during the most recent quarter and the likelihood of meeting the performance target. The reviews should include the designated leader for each agency priority goal, and relevant personnel within and external to the agency. The reviews should also highlight and strategize regarding high risk areas—in other word, where there is the greatest risk of not meeting a priority goal. Further, the head of the agency, COO, and PIO must assess whether the relevant organizations, program activities, regulations, policies and other activities are contributing as planned to each agency priority. S. Rep. No. 111-372, at 11 (2010).

This approach is aimed at increasing the use of performance information to improve performance and results. Through government-wide surveys of federal managers between 1997 and 2007, GAO found that although federal managers reported they had more performance measures in 2007 than in 1997, their reported use of the performance information collected by those measures had not changed significantly during that ten year period. Agencies are collecting a significant amount of information, but are not consistently using that information to improve their management and results. S. Rep. No. 111-372, at 11-12 (2010).

Related GAO Work

GAO has elaborated on and suggested several practices that support this requirement, including:

  • identifying leading practices to promote successful data-driven reviews (GAO-13-228);
  • using performance information to manage for results (GAO-05-927, pp. 7-17);
  • practices to enhance or facilitate the use of performance information for management decision making (GAO-05-927, pp. 18- 32); and
  • using evaluation to explain and identify ways to improve program performance (GAO/GGD-00-204).
Data-Driven Performance Reviews
Agency Performance Reporting

Agency Performance Reporting Update

Overview | Performance Reporting Process | Review of Performance for Preceding 5 Years | Evaluation of Current Plan to Performance Achieved
Actions for Unmet Goals | Waivers for Managerial Accountability and Flexibility | Strategic Human Capital Management
Data Accuracy and Reliability | Summary of Program Evaluation Findings

Overview

Requirements

When reporting on its performance, the agency is to follow certain requirements for the reporting process and must ensure that its performance reporting updates contain specific elements:

  • performance reporting process;
  • review of performance for preceding 5 years;
  • evaluation of current performance plan to performance achieved;
  • actions for unmet goals;
  • describe the use and assess the effectiveness in achieving agency performance goals of any waivers for managerial accountability and flexibility;
  • a review of the performance goals relative to the agency’s strategic human capital management;
  • describe how the agency ensures data accuracy and reliability; and
  • summary of program evaluation findings.

11 U.S.C. § 1116.

Select Legislative History

Annual program performance reports are the feedback to managers, policymakers, and the public as to what was actually accomplished for the resources expended—in other words, how well the original goals were met. This type of information is ideally available to program managers on a more regular basis throughout the year, but at a minimum there needs to be an annual compilation and reporting of results. S. Rep. No. 103-58, at 16 (1993).

There may be more performance information tracked by the agency for management purposes than is summarized in the annual report, but there should be a match between the report and the goals of the previous performance plan. And while the nature of some of what is measured might change periodically, that should not be a frequent, widespread occurrence (especially after the first few years' experience). Otherwise, it will be difficult to spot trends in program performance, which is often the most revealing type of information for managers and policymakers. S. Rpt. 103-58, at 16 (1993).

The annual performance reports are to include explanatory information on goals not met. This includes plans for achieving the goals, or reasons why that is not possible and recommended action. The goal itself might be unreasonable, given the resources allocated. Or the goal might be reasonable, if the program is restructured. Or an unforeseen occurrence might have interfered with the goals attainability. Or the entire underlying premise of the program might be flawed. Or the program might simply have been mismanaged. Each of these and other possible explanations suggest different responses by top executives and the Congress. S. Rpt. 103-58, at 16 (1993).

The reports should also relate performance measurement information to program evaluation findings, in order to give a clear picture of the agency's performance and its efforts at improvement. S. Rpt. 103-58, at 16 (1993).

Agencies are encouraged to provide more frequent updates for performance indicators that provide significant value to the federal government, Congress, or other key stakeholders, at a reasonable level of administrative burden. Among other things, these updates are required to include a review of the agency’s success in achieving performance goals, along with results for the five preceding fiscal years; and information about the reliability and validity of the data used to measure the agency’s progress towards its performance goals. S. Rep. No. 111-372, at 16 (2010).

Finally, where an agency has not met its performance goals, the Act requires that the head of the agency submit a performance improvement plan to the Office of Management and Budget; where there have been unmet performance goals for two consecutive years, the agency head is required to submit additional information to Congress and to describe additional funding the agency will obligate to achieve the relevant goals. S. Rep. No. 111-372, at 16 (2010).

Related GAO Work

GAO has elaborated on and suggested several practices that support this requirement, including:

Performance Reporting Process

Requirements

Each year, no later than 150 days after the end of the fiscal year, the agency is to provide an update on its performance, by comparing actual performance achieved against the performance goals established in its performance plan. 31 U.S.C. § 1116(b).

The agency is to provide more frequent updates of actual performance for indicators that provide data of significant value to the federal government, Congress, or program partners at a reasonable level of administrative burden. 31 U.S.C. § 1116(b).

The agency is to make the performance update available on its website and to the Office of Management and Budget. 31 U.S.C. § 1116(a).

The agency is to include the performance update for any classified program activities or information in the classified appendix of the agency’s performance plan. 31 U.S.C. § 1116(d).

The functions and activities related to agency performance reporting updates are considered inherently governmental functions, only to be performed by federal employees. 31 U.S.C. § 1116(e).

Select Legislative History

The Act requires agencies to provide a performance update at least annually, occurring no later than 150 days after the end of the fiscal year. However, agencies are encouraged to provide more frequent updates that would provide significant value to the federal government, Congress, or other key stakeholders. S. Rep. No. 111-372, at 6 (2010).

The Act addresses an omission from the original law, which did not specify how or where agencies should report on the performance of any classified activities, even though it did allow for a classified annex. To this end, the Act clearly requires that agencies provide performance updates for classified program activities in the classified appendix of the agency performance plan. S. Rep. No. 111-372, at 6-7 (2010).

Related GAO Work

GAO has elaborated on and suggested several practices that support this requirement, including:

  • tailoring information presentations to congressional needs (GAO/GGD-00-35, pp. 18-20); and
  • presenting performance information in a user-friendly manner (GAO/GGD-96-66R, p. 12).

Review of Performance for Preceding 5 Years

Requirements

The agency performance update is to review the success of achieving the performance goals and include actual results for the 5 preceding fiscal years. 31 U.S.C. § 1116(c)(1).

Select Legislative History

These reports will contain two main parts: a report on the actual performance achieved compared to the performance goals expressed in the performance plan and of the steps to be taken to achieve those goals that were not met. S. Rep. No. 103-58, at 33 (1993).

The Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs (the Committee) recognized that in some cases not all of the performance data would be available in time for the…reporting date. In that situation, the Committee expected that the agency would provide whatever data is available, with the notation that it is incomplete. The preliminary figures should be updated as part of the trend information in future annual performance reports. S. Rep. No. 103-58, at 33 (1993).

Related GAO Work

GAO has elaborated on and suggested several practices that support this requirement, including:

Evaluation of Current Plan to Performance Achieved

Requirements

The agency performance update is to evaluate the performance plan for the current fiscal year relative to the performance achieved toward the performance goals during the period covered by the update. 31 U.S.C. § 1116(c)(2).

Select Legislative History

These reports will contain two main parts: a report on the actual performance achieved compared to the performance goals expressed in the performance plan and of the steps to be taken to achieve those goals that were not met. S. Rep. No. 103-58, at 33 (1993).

Related GAO Work

GAO has elaborated on and suggested several practices that support this requirement, including:

  • discussing the nature, extent, and significance of changing performance goals or measures (GAO/GGD-96-66R, pp. 10-11).

Actions for Unmet Goals

Requirements

The agency performance update is to explain and describe where a performance goal has not been met:

  • why the goal was not met;
  • those plans and schedules for achieving the established performance goal; and
  • if the performance goal is impractical or infeasible, why that is the case and what action is recommended.

31 U.S.C. § 1116(c)(3).

Select Legislative History

These reports will contain two main parts: a report on the actual performance achieved compared to the performance goals expressed in the performance plan and of the steps to be taken to achieve those goals that were not met. If a performance goal becomes impractical or infeasible to achieve, the agency should explain what legislative, regulatory, or other actions are needed to accomplish the goal or whether the goal ought to be modified. S. Rep. No. 103-58, at 33 (1993).

Related GAO Work

GAO has elaborated on and suggested several practices that support this requirement, including:

  • using program evaluation studies to explain and identify ways to improve program performance (GAO-10-30; GAO-06-67; GAO/GGD-00-204);
  • identifying performance gaps (GAO/GGD-96-118, pp. 32-34); and
  • identifying how the findings of program evaluations are being used to improve performance for unmet goals (GAO/GGD-96-66R, pp. 8-10).

Waivers for Managerial Accountability and Flexibility

Requirements

The agency performance update is to describe the use and assess the effectiveness in achieving performance goals of any waiver for managerial accountability and flexibility. 31 U.S.C. §§ 1116(c)(4); 9703.

Select Legislative History

Agencies are allowed to propose, and the Office of Management and Budget to approve, waivers of certain non-statutory administrative procedural requirements and controls in return for specific individual or organizational accountability to achieve a higher performance goal. S. Rep. No. 103-58, at 34 (1993).

These waivers can include specification of personnel staffing levels, limitations on compensation or remuneration, and prohibitions or restrictions on funding transfers among certain budget object classifications. S. Rep. No. 103-58, at 34 (1993).

The annual performance report is to include a description on the use and effectiveness of any waiver in achieving a performance goal. This description should also identify the individual or organizational consequences resulting from a failure to maintain the previous level of performance as a result of using the waiver. This latter information would supplement that portion of the annual performance report that addresses the reasons why a performance goal was not achieved, and the plans and actions that will be taken to achieve the goal. S. Rep. No. 103-58, at 35 (1993).

Related GAO Work

GAO has elaborated on and suggested several practices that support this requirement, including:

  • lessons learned from managerial accountability and flexibility pilot phase (GAO/GGD-97-36).

Strategic Human Capital Management

Requirements

The agency performance update is to include a review of the performance goals and evaluation of the performance plan relative to the agency’s strategic human capital management. 31 U.S.C. § 1116(c)(5).

Related GAO Work

GAO has elaborated on and suggested several practices that support this requirement, including:

  • a model for strategic human capital management (GAO-02-373SP);
  • assessing and investing in federal training and development efforts (GAO-12-878; GAO-04-546G);
  • addressing long-standing challenges in strategic human capital management (GAO-11-278, pp. 52-57; GAO-03-120);
  • key principles for strategic workforce planning (GAO-04-39);
  • insights on succession planning (GAO-03-914); and
  • creating a “line of sight” between individual performance and organizational success (GAO-03-488).

Data Accuracy and Reliability

Requirements

The agency performance update is to describe how the agency ensures the accuracy and reliability of the data used to measure progress towards its performance goals, including an identification of:

  • the means used to verify and validate measured values;
  • the sources for the data;
  • the level of accuracy required for the intended use of the data;
  • any limitations to the data at the required level of accuracy; and
  • how the agency has compensated for such limitations if needed to reach the required level of accuracy.

31 U.S.C. § 1116(c)(6).

Select Legislative History

Credible performance information is essential for accurately assessing an agency’s progress towards its goals and, in cases where goals are not met, identifying opportunities for improvement or whether goals need to be adjusted. In order to improve the credibility of performance data, the Act requires an agency to provide additional information about how it will ensure the validity and reliability of such data. S. Rep. No. 111-372, at 6 (2010).

Related GAO Work

GAO has elaborated on and suggested several practices that support this requirement, including:

  • discussing data accuracy and reliability issues in performance reports (GAO-02-372; GAO/GGD-96-66R, p. 11);
  • challenges agencies face in producing credible performance information (GAO/GGD-00-52); and
  • approaches for verifying and validating performance data (GAO/GGD-99-139).

Summary of Program Evaluation Findings

Requirements

The agency performance update is to include the summary findings of those program evaluations completed during the period covered by the update. 31 U.S.C. § 1116(c)(7).

Select Legislative History

A performance report shall also summarize the findings of those program evaluations completed during the year covered by the report. S. Rep. No. 103-58, at 33 (1993).

Program evaluation is an objective and formal assessment of the results, impact, or effects of a program or policy. While most often aimed at assessing the degree to which a program's stated objectives are being or have been realized, program evaluations are also frequently used for measurement of "unintended" results, good or bad, that were not explicitly included in the original statement of objectives or foreseen in the implementation design. Thus, they can serve to validate or find error in the basic purposes and premises that underlay a program or policy. Finally, this definition should be read as including evaluations of program implementation process and operating policies and practices when the primary concern is about these issues rather than program outcome. However, the definition is not intended to include program monitoring activities that are (or should be) a routine component of good program management. S. Rep. No. 103-58, at 32-33 (1993).

Related GAO Work

GAO has elaborated on and suggested several practices that support this requirement, including:

Performance Planning and Reporting
Transparency of Agency Performance

Transparency of Agency Programs, Goals, and Results

Requirements

Not later than October 1, 2012, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) is to ensure the effective operation of a single website that presents a cohesive picture of all federal programs, individual agency performance, and governmentwide performance. 31 U.S.C. § 1122.

This section focuses on the federal program and agency performance requirements. For more information about the website and governmentwide performance requirements, see section below, Federal Government Performance Website.

Federal Programs – The agency is to share with OMB, for publication on the governmentwide performance website, information about each of its programs, including

  • how the agency defines the program, including the program activities that are aggregated, disaggregated, or consolidated to be considered a program by the agency;
  • a description of the purposes of each program;
  • how each program contributes to the agency’s mission and goals; and
  • funding for the current fiscal year and previous 2 fiscal years.

31 U.S.C. § 1122(a)(2).

Agency Goals and Results­ – The agency is to produce its strategic plans, performance plans, and performance reporting updates in searchable, machine-readable formats and make them available on the governmentwide performance website. Pub. L. No. 111-352, § 10, 124 Stat. 3866, 3880-3881 (2011).

In addition, the agency is to make information about the agency priority goals and quarterly priority progress reviews available to OMB for publication on the governmentwide performance website. This consolidated information about each priority goal is to include:

  • a description of how the agency incorporated input from congressional consultations;
  • an identification of key external factors that could significantly affect the achievement of the agency priority goal;
  • the strategies and resources required to achieve the goal;
  • clearly defined milestones;
  • the contributing organizations, programs, and activities;
  • a description of interagency collaboration;
  • an identification of the goal leader;
  • performance indicators;
  • a description of how the agency ensures data accuracy and reliability;
  • the results achieved during the most recent quarter and overall trend data compared to the planned level of performance;
  • an assessment of whether relevant organizations, programs, and activities are contributing as planned;
  • an identification of the priority goals at risk of not being achieved; and
  • any strategies for performance improvement.

31 U.S.C. § 1122(b).

OMB is to issue guidance to ensure that the information is provided in a way that presents a coherent picture of all federal programs, and the performance of the federal government as well as individual agencies. 31 U.S.C. § 1122(d).

Select Legislative History

This legislation requires OMB to develop a single governmentwide performance website by 2012 that will feature performance information outlined in the Act and provided by the agency. The Act further requires that OMB issue guidance to agencies on providing performance information for publication on this website. In addition, agencies are required to produce all strategic plans, performance plans, and performance reports in searchable, machine-readable formats beginning in fiscal year 2012. S. Rep. No. 111-372, at 12 (2010).

The Act also attempts to reduce unnecessary and duplicative printed reports by prohibiting the printing of strategic plans, performance plans, and performance reports for external release, except when being provided to Congress. The public will be able to access these plans and reports on the government-wide performance website established in this Act. S. Rep. No. 111-372, at 12 (2010).

Related GAO Work

GAO has elaborated on and suggested several practices that support this requirement, including:

  • being clear about purposes, audiences, and uses of the website (GAO-13-517, pp. 13-19); and
  • communicating performance information frequently and effectively (GAO-05-927, pp. 27-32).
Public reporting, website
Reducing Unnecessary Plans and Reports

Reducing Unnecessary Agency Plans and Reports

Requirements

Each year, based on guidance provided by the Director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), the agency Chief Operating Officer (COO) is to:

  • compile a list of all plans and reports the agency produces for Congress;
  • analyze the list to identify, and refine the list to, duplicative or outdated plans and reports;
  • consult with Congressional committees that receive the duplicative/outdated plans and reports to see if they are no longer useful and could be consolidated or eliminated; and
  • submit a total count of all plans and reports, and the list of duplicative and outdated ones, to OMB.

31 U.S.C. § 1125(a).

OMB is to include each agency’s list of duplicative and outdated plans and reports in the Budget of the United States Government for consolidation or elimination. In addition, OMB may concurrently submit to Congress legislation to eliminate or consolidate the plans and reports. 31 U.S.C. §§ 1105(a)(37), 1125(c).

During the first year of implementing these requirements (2012), each agency’s list of outdated/duplicative plans and reports is to be at least 10 percent of all plans and reports the agency produces for Congress. In subsequent years, OMB is to determine the minimum percentage of plans and reports to be identified as outdated or duplicative. 31 U.S.C. § 1125(b).

Select Legislative History

The Act requires each agency’s COO to compile a list of all plans and reports the agency produces for Congress, either by law or as directed in congressional reports, and identify outdated or duplicative requirements. The Act then provides that the President submit to Congress, concurrent with the submission of the budget of the United States government, a list of the plans and reports that the agencies identified as outdated or duplicative and authorizes the Director of OMB to concurrently submit a legislative proposal to eliminate or consolidate these outdated and duplicative plans. S. Rept. No. 111-372, at 12 (2010).

Reduced reporting
Federal Government Priority Goals

Federal Government Priority Goals

Requirements

The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) is to coordinate with agencies to develop priority goals for the federal government. At least every 4 years—published on the governmentwide performance website concurrently with the President’s Budget in the second year of the presidential term—OMB is to update or revise the federal government priority goals. 31 U.S.C. § 1120(a)(1), (2), (5).

These long-term goals are to include—

  • outcome-oriented goals for a limited number of crosscutting policy areas, and
  • goals for management improvements needed across the federal government, including financial management, human capital management, information technology management, procurement and acquisition management, and real property management.

31 U.S.C. § 1120(a)(1)(A), (B).

OMB may make adjustments to the goals to reflect significant changes in the federal government’s operating environment, with appropriate notification of Congress. 31 U.S.C. § 1120(a)(2).

When developing or making adjustments to the federal government priority goals, OMB is to consult periodically with Congress, including obtaining majority and minority views from specified Congressional committees:

  • the Senate and House Committees on Appropriations;
  • the Senate and House Committees on the Budget;
  • the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs;
  • the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform;
  • the Senate Committee on Finance;
  • the House Committee on Ways and Means; and
  • any other committees determined appropriate.

31 U.S.C. § 1120(a)(3).

At least every 2 years, OMB is to consult with the appropriate committees of Congress. 31 U.S.C. § 1120(a)(4).

The functions and activities related to developing federal government priority goals are considered inherently governmental functions, only to be performed by federal employees. 31 U.S.C. § 1120(c).

Select Legislative History

The Act requires the Director of OMB to work with agencies to develop federal government priority goals that aim to improve performance and management across the federal government. The crosscutting policy goals are required to be outcome-oriented and limited in number to ensure that there is ample focus on achieving these goals over time. The management-related goals should cover management functions where significant improvements are needed across the federal government, such as information technology, human capital, and financial management. Recognizing that achieving the federal government priority goals will require sustained focus over a period of time, the goals are required to be long-term in nature and updated or revised at least every four years. Under the Act, the Director is able to make adjustments to the goals should there be significant changes in the federal government’s operating environment. However, the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs (the Committee) expected that many of these goals would stay constant over time, including across Administrations, since these challenges are not likely to be overcome during a four year period. S. Rep. No. 111-372, at 8 (2010).

Successful strategic planning requires the involvement of key stakeholders. This collaboration can serve as a mechanism for building consensus and provides a vehicle for the President to articulate long-term goals and a road map for achieving them. Therefore, when developing or adjusting the goals, and at least once each Congress, the Director is required to consult with key congressional committees and obtain both majority and minority views on the draft goals. S. Rep. No. 111-372, at 8 (2010).

The federal government priority goals should complement the federal government performance plan, effectively functioning as a government-wide strategic plan. This legislation also addresses the need to increase transparency by providing a process for developing the federal government priority goals and making them available to the public. The Act requires that the goals be developed or revised at least once every four years and be made publicly available concurrently with the submission of the budget of the United States Government in the second year of a President’s term. At a minimum, the Committee expected the goals would be posted on the government-wide performance website provided for in this legislation. S. Rep. No. 111-372, at 8-9 (2010).

Related GAO Work

GAO has elaborated on and suggested several practices that support this requirement. This includes:

  • GAO’s comments on the 2012 to 2013 interim federal government priority goals, also known as cross-agency priority goals (GAO-12-620R);
  • developing a governmentwide strategic plan to address crosscutting issues (GAO-04-38, pp. 95-96);
  • addressing duplication, overlap, and fragmentation (GAO-13-279SP, GAO-12-342SP, pp. 4-5; GAO-11-617T, pp. 3-7; GAO-11-318SP, pp. 3-4; GAO/AIMD-97-146);
  • practices to enhance and sustain collaboration (GAO-06-15); and
  • barriers to interagency collaboration and approaches for improving the management of crosscutting programs (GAO/GGD-00-106).
Goals
Federal Government Performance Plan

Federal Government Performance Plan


Requirements

The Office of Management and Budget (OMB), in coordination with agencies, is to develop a federal government performance plan to be published concurrently with the President’s Budget each year. Information from the federal government performance plan is also to be made available on the governmentwide performance website. 31 U.S.C. § 1115(a).

The federal government performance plan is to be consistent with the federal government priority goals. 31 U.S.C. § 1120(a)(6).

The federal government performance plan is to include:

  • federal government performance goals to define the level of performance to be achieved during the current and next fiscal years for each of the federal government priority goals;
  • an identification of the federal agencies, organizations, program activities, regulations, tax expenditures, policies, and other activities contributing to each federal government performance goal;
  • for each federal government performance goal, an identification of the lead government official who is responsible for coordinating efforts to achieve the goal;
  • common crosscutting performance indicators with quarterly targets to measure or assess overall progress toward each federal government performance goal, as well as the individual contribution of each contributing agency, organization, program activity, regulation, tax expenditure, policy, and other activity;
  • clearly defined quarterly milestones; and
  • an identification of crosscutting major management challenges and plans to address them, including relevant performance goals, performance indicators, and milestones.

31 U.S.C. § 1115(a)(1), (2), (3), (4), (5), (6).

The functions and activities related to federal government performance planning are considered inherently governmental functions, only to be performed by federal employees. 31 U.S.C. § 1115(f).

Select Legislative History

The Act stresses the importance of a federal government performance plan and enhances requirements for the plan to address crosscutting program efforts. Focusing broadly on government-wide outcomes should be a central and distinguishing feature of the federal government performance plan. The Act requires that:

  • the plan establish performance goals for each crosscutting federal government priority goal;
  • OMB identify the various agencies, organizations, program activities, regulations, tax expenditures, policies and other activities that contribute to each federal government performance goal;
  • a lead government official be assigned for each federal government performance goal;
  • OMB establish common federal government performance indicators to measure and assess progress across agencies toward shared goals; and
  • OMB identify government and cross-agency management challenges and plans to address such challenges.

S. Rep. No. 111-372, at 7-8 (2010).

Related GAO Work

GAO has elaborated on and suggested several practices that support this requirement, including:

Performance Planning and Reporting
Federal Government Quarterly Reviews

Federal Government Quarterly Priority Progress Reviews

Requirements

At least quarterly, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB)—supported by the Performance Improvement Council (PIC)—is to review with the appropriate lead government official the progress made toward achieving each federal government priority goal, including progress achieved during the most recent quarter, overall trend data, and the likelihood of meeting the planned level of performance. 31 U.S.C. § 1121(a)(1).

The reviews also are to involve officials from the federal agencies, organizations, and program activities that contribute to the accomplishment of each federal government priority goal. 31 U.S.C. § 1121(a)(2).

At these reviews, OMB is to

  • assess whether relevant agencies, organizations, program activities, regulations, tax expenditures, policies, and other activities are contributing as planned to each priority goal;
  • categorize the priority goals by their risk of not being achieved; and
  • for those at greatest risk of not being achieved, identify strategies to improve performance, including any needed changes to agencies, organizations, program activities, regulations, tax expenditures, policies, and other activities.

31 U.S.C. § 1121(a)(3), (4), (5).

Select Legislative History

The Act attempts to lay out a process for reviewing progress towards the federal government priority goals on, at minimum, a quarterly basis. For each federal government priority goal, the Director of OMB should review the progress achieved during the most recent quarter and the likelihood of meeting the performance target. As a part of these reviews, the Director of OMB and the PIC must categorize the federal government priority goals according to the risk of not meeting performance targets, and for those at greatest risk, identify strategies to improve performance. S. Rep. No. 111-372, at 11 (2010).

The Director of OMB and the PIC are also required to assess whether the agencies, organizations, program activities, regulations, tax expenditures, policies and other activities are contributing as planned to each federal government priority. By looking at the contribution of each underlying federal entity and type of federal intervention, the Director of OMB and the PIC may be able to identify successful practices that could be replicated by other agencies to improve their results and contributions to the overall federal government priority goal. This assessment process may also reveal federal activities that are duplicative or even working at cross-purposes. S. Rep. No. 111-372, at 11 (2010).

Related GAO Work

GAO has elaborated on and suggested several practices that support this requirement, including:

  • identifying leading practices to promote successful data-driven reviews (GAO-13-228);

  • using performance information to manage for results (GAO-05-927, pp. 7-17); and
  • practices to enhance or facilitate the use of performance information for management decision making (GAO-05-927, pp. 18- 32).
Data-Driven Performance Reviews
Federal Government Performance Website

Federal Government Performance Website

Requirements

Not later than October 1, 2012, OMB is to ensure the effective operation of a single website that presents a cohesive picture of all federal programs, individual agency performance, and governmentwide performance. 31 U.S.C. § 1122.

This section focuses on the website and governmentwide performance requirements. For more information about related agency program and performance requirements, see section above on Transparency of Agency Programs, Goals, and Results.

OMB is to make information about each federal government priority goal available on the website, including—

  • a brief description of the goal;
  • any input from congressional consultations on the goal;
  • the federal government performance goals and common crosscutting performance indicators associated with the goal;
  • the lead government official;
  • the results achieved during the most recent quarter and overall trend data compared to the planned level of performance;
  • the relevant federal agencies, organizations, program activities, regulations, tax expenditures, policies, and other activities that contribute to the goal;
  • an assessment of whether the relevant federal agencies, organizations, program activities, regulations, tax expenditures, policies, and other activities are contributing as planned;
  • if the goal is at risk of not being achieved; and
  • any strategies for performance improvement.

31 U.S.C. § 1122(c).

At a minimum, the website is to be updated on a quarterly basis. 31 U.S.C. § 1122(a)(1)(B).

The information made available on the website is to be readily available and easily found by the public and Congress, and presented in a searchable, machine-readable format. 31 U.S.C. § 1122(d).

Select Legislative History

The Act requires OMB to develop a single governmentwide performance website by 2012 that will feature performance information outlined in the Act and provided by the agency. The Act further requires that OMB issue guidance to agencies on providing performance information for publication on this website. In addition, agencies are required to produce all strategic plans, performance plans, and performance reports in searchable, machine-readable formats beginning in fiscal year 2012. S. Rep. No. 111-372, at 12 (2010).

The Act also attempts to reduce unnecessary and duplicative printed reports by prohibiting the printing of strategic plans, performance plans, and performance reports for external release, except when being provided to Congress. The public will be able to access these plans and reports on the government-wide performance website established in this Act. S. Rep. No. 111-372, at 12 (2010).

Related GAO Work

GAO has elaborated on and suggested several practices that support this requirement, including:

  • being clear about purposes, audiences, and uses of the website (GAO-13-517, pp. 13-19); and
  • communicating performance information frequently and effectively (GAO-05-927, pp. 27-32).
Public reporting, website
Leadership at the Governmentwide Level

Leadership at the Governmentwide Level

Office of Management and Budget

Requirements

The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) has responsibility for carrying out various governmentwide (cross-agency) performance planning and reporting requirements.

Specifically, the Director of OMB is responsible for

  • coordinating with agencies to develop long-term, federal government priority goals and the related annual federal government performance plans. 31 U.S.C. §§ 1115(a), 1120(a).
  • reviewing progress toward the federal government priority goals, with the Performance Improvement Council and relevant lead government officials, on at least a quarterly basis. 31 U.S.C. § 1121(a).
  • ensuring the effective operation of a single website on government performance, which includes information about the federal government priority goals. 31 U.S.C. § 1122(a), (c).
  • providing guidance to agencies on implementing federal government performance planning and reporting requirements. Pub. L. 111-352, § 14(b), 124 Stat. 3866, 3883 (2011).

In addition, the Deputy Director for Management at OMB is to serve as chairperson of the Performance Improvement Council. 31 U.S.C. § 1124(b)(1)(A).

Select Legislative History

For more on the legislative history of OMB’s role, see citations to the legislation concerning the specific planning and reporting activities in which OMB is involved, as outlined in the Requirements section above.

Related GAO Work

GAO has elaborated on and suggested several practices that support this requirement, including:

  • the President and OMB demonstrating leadership on using performance information governmentwide (GAO-09-1011T, pp. 16-17);
  • demonstrating management involvement (GAO-05-927, pp. 19-20); and
  • strengthening leadership commitment to creating and sustaining results-oriented management (GAO-04-38, pp. 69-75 and 101-103).

Performance Improvement Council

Requirements

The Performance Improvement Council (PIC) is an interagency council chaired by the Deputy Director for Management at OMB. The PIC is composed of the Performance Improvement Officers from various agencies: the 24 CFO Act agencies as well as other agencies and individuals as determined appropriate by the chairperson. 31 U.S.C. § 1124(b)(1).

The chairperson has the authority to convene the PIC, and is to

  • preside at the PIC’s meetings;
  • determine the PIC’s agenda;
  • direct the PIC’s work; and
  • establish and direct PIC subgroups, as appropriate, to deal with particular subject matters.

31 U.S.C. § 1124(b)(2)(A).

The PIC has responsibilities to

  • assist OMB in implementing the governmentwide performance planning and reporting requirements to improve the performance of the federal government;
  • work to resolve specific governmentwide or crosscutting performance issues;
  • facilitate the exchange of performance-improvement practices across agencies;
  • coordinate with other interagency councils;
  • seek advice and information from nonmember agencies, particularly smaller agencies;
  • consider the performance improvement experiences of other governments (foreign, state, and local), corporations, nonprofit organizations, public sector unions, and federal employees and customers; and
  • develop recommendations to streamline and improve performance management policies and requirements and submit them to the Director of OMB, or when appropriate, to the President.

31 U.S.C. § 1124(b)(2)(B), (C), (D), (E), (F), (G), (H), (J).

The General Services Administration is to provide administrative and other support to the PIC. In addition, the PIC can request and receive assistance, information and advice from agencies, to the extent permitted by law. Also, to the extent permitted by law, agencies participating in the PIC may be requested by the chairperson to provide up to two personnel authorizations each to serve at the direction of the chairperson. 31 U.S.C. § 1124(b)(2)(I), (3)(A), (3)(B).

Select Legislative History

The Act also establishes in statute a government-wide Performance Improvement Council (PIC), comprising the Deputy Director for Management of OMB, who serves as the chairperson, the PIOs from each of the 24 CFO Act agencies, other agency PIOs and other individuals as determined appropriate by the chairperson. The PIC was originally established under Executive Order 13,450, Improving Government Program Performance, on November 13, 2007). 72 Fed. Reg. 64,519. The Act enhances the responsibilities of the PIC, directing it to coordinate performance and management activities with other interagency management councils, such as the Chief Acquisition Officers Council, the Chief Financial Officers Council, the Chief Human Capital Officers Council, the Chief Information Officers Council, and the Federal Real Property Management Council. The Senate Committee on Homeland Security expected that other interagency management councils would take lead responsibility for implementing the management improvement-related federal government priority goals (i.e., the Chief Financial Officers Council will be responsible for the financial management-related goal), with the PIC assisting the other councils and monitoring progress toward the goals. S. Rep. No. 111-372, at 10-11 (2010).

Related GAO Work

GAO has elaborated on and suggested several practices that support this requirement, including:

  • the PIC facilitating the exchange of best practices and working to improve agency program management and performance (GAO-13-356);
  • the President and OMB demonstrating leadership on using performance information governmentwide (GAO-09-1011T, pp. 16-17);
  • demonstrating management involvement (GAO-05-927, pp. 19-20); and
  • strengthening leadership commitment to creating and sustaining results-oriented management (GAO-04-38, pp. 69-75 and 101-103).

Lead Government Official

Requirements

For each federal government performance goal, a lead government official is responsible for coordinating efforts to achieve the goal. 31 U.S.C. § 1115(a)(3).

In addition, the lead government official is to participate in the quarterly reviews conducted by the Office of Management and Budget and the Performance Improvement Council of progress toward the goal. 31 U.S.C. § 1121(a)(1).

Select Legislative History

For more on the legislative history of the lead government official’s role, see citations to the legislation concerning the specific planning and reporting activities in which the lead government official is involved, as outlined in the Requirements section above.

Related GAO Work

GAO has elaborated on and suggested several practices that support this requirement, including:

  • practices for enhancing interagency collaboration (GAO-06-15);
  • demonstrating management involvement (GAO-05-927, pp. 19-20); and
  • strengthening leadership commitment to creating and sustaining results-oriented management (GAO-04-38, pp. 69-75 and 101-103).
Leadership roles
Agency Leadership Involvement and Accountability

Agency Leadership Involvement and Accountability

Agency Head | Chief Operating Officer | Performance Improvement Officer | Goal Leader | Accountability for Unmet Goals

Agency Head

Requirements

The head of each agency has responsibility for carrying out various agency-level planning and reporting requirements. This includes making the agency’s strategic plans, performance plans, and performance reporting updates available on the agency’s website. 5 U.S.C. § 306(a); 31 U.S.C. §§ 1115(b), 1116(a).

The agency head also has responsibilities related to the agency priority goals, including

  • identifying those goals;
  • conducting quarterly reviews—with the chief operating officer, performance improvement officer, and goal leaders—of progress made toward those goals; and
  • providing information about those goals, and progress made toward them, to OMB for publication on the federal government performance website.

31 U.S.C. §§ 1120(b)(1), 1121(b)(1), 1122(b).

Select Legislative History

For more on the legislative history of the agency head’s role, see citations to the legislation concerning the specific planning and reporting activities in which the agency head is involved, as outlined in the Requirements section above.

Related GAO Work

GAO has elaborated on and suggested several practices that support this requirement, including: 

  • implementing performance management leadership roles and responsibilities under the GPRA Modernization Act (GAO-13-356);
  • demonstrating management involvement (GAO-05-927, pp. 19-20); and
  • strengthening leadership commitment to creating and sustaining results-oriented management (GAO-04-38, pp. 69-75 and 101-103).

 

Chief Operating Officer

Requirements

The agency Chief Operating Officer (COO), who is the deputy head of agency or equivalent, has responsibility for improving the management and performance of the agency, through the use of strategic and performance planning, measurement, analysis, regular assessment of progress, and the use of performance information to achieve the agency’s mission and goals. 31 U.S.C. § 1123(a), (b)(1).

Specifically, the COO is to

  • advise and assist the head of the agency in carrying out agency-level performance planning and reporting requirements, including the quarterly reviews of progress toward agency priority goals;
  • oversee agency-specific efforts to improve management functions within the agency and across the federal government; and
  • coordinate and collaborate with relevant personnel, within and external to the agency, who have a significant role in contributing to the achievement of the agency’s mission and goals, such as the Chief Financial Officer, Chief Human Capital Officer, Chief Acquisition Officer/Senior Procurement Executive, Chief Information Officer, and other line of business chiefs at the agency.

31 U.S.C. § 1123(b)(2), (3), (4).

In addition, the COO is responsible for leading the agency’s efforts to identify duplicative and outdated agency reporting. 31 U.S.C. § 1125.

Select Legislative History

In 2002, GAO convened a roundtable to discuss the Chief Operating Officer (COO) concept and how it might apply within federal agencies as one strategy to address certain systemic federal governance and management challenges. Participants generally agreed that agency COOs could help increase attention to management issues and transformational change, integrate various key management and transformation efforts, and institutionalize accountability for addressing management issues and leading transformational change. S. Rep. No. 111-372, at 9 (2010).

Two Presidential memoranda—one on October 1, 1993 and an update on July 11, 2001—outlined a COO position within the federal government. Both memoranda provided the COO with responsibilities to improve the management and performance of the agency, and implement the agency mission and goals. The Act keeps those responsibilities and adds others to bring them in line with the planning and reporting requirements provided in this legislation. The Act codifies that the deputy head of an agency, or equivalent, shall be an agency’s COO and given overall responsibility for improving the management and performance of the agency. The COO would also assist the head of the agency in carrying out the planning and reporting requirements of this Act, oversee agency-specific efforts to improve management within the agency and across the federal government, and coordinate with relevant personnel within and external to the agency who have a significant role in contributing to the mission and goals of the agency. S. Rep. No. 111-372, at 9-10 (2010).

Both Presidential Memoranda mentioned above also established the President’s Management Council (PMC), led by the Deputy Director for Management of OMB and composed of various agency COOs. The PMC has general responsibilities aimed at improving federal government management. Although the Act does not codify the PMC, the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs expected that the management council would continue to exist and continue to be responsible for improving management across the federal government. The PMC could also play an important role in ensuring that relevant agencies and other interagency councils effectively coordinate efforts to achieve the federal government priority goals. S. Rep. No. 111-372, at 10 (2010).

Related GAO Work

GAO has elaborated on and suggested several practices that support this requirement, including: 

  • implementing COO positions, along with other leadership roles with specific responsibilities under the GPRA Modernization Act (GAO-13-356); 
  • implementing COO positions in federal agencies (GAO-08-34; GAO-03-192SP);
  • demonstrating management involvement (GAO-05-927, pp. 19-20); and
  • strengthening leadership commitment to creating and sustaining results-oriented management (GAO-04-38, pp. 69-75 and 101-103).


Performance Improvement Officer

Requirements

The agency head, in consultation with the COO, is to select an agency senior executive to serve as the agency’s Performance Improvement Officer (PIO). The PIO is to provide advice and support to the agency head and agency COO in achieving the agency’s mission and goals. The PIO is to report directly to the COO. 31 U.S.C. § 1124(a)(1), (2)(A).

Subject to the direction of the COO, the PIO is to

  • advise and assist the agency head and COO to ensure that the mission and goals of the agency are achieved through the use of strategic and performance planning, measurement, analysis, regular assessment of progress, and use of performance information to improve the results achieved;
  • advise on the selection of agency goals, including opportunities to collaborate with other agencies on common goals;
  • assist in overseeing the agency’s implementation of agency strategic planning, performance planning and reporting requirements, including the agency’s contributions to federal government priority goals;
  • support regular reviews of agency performance, including the quarterly reviews of progress toward agency priority goals; and
  • assist in the development and use of performance measures in agency personnel performance appraisals.

31 U.S.C. § 1124(a)(2)(A), (B), (C), (D), (E).

In addition, the PIO is to ensure that agency progress toward the achievement of all goals is communicated to agency leaders, managers and employees, and Congress as well as made available on the agency’s website. 31 U.S.C. § 1124(a)(2)(F).

 
Select Legislative History

The Act establishes in statute the position of a PIO at each agency. The PIO position existed prior to the enactment of the Act in the federal government, having been established by Executive Order 13,450, Improving Government Program Performance, on November 13, 2007. 72 Fed. Reg. 64,519. Although the Act codifies parts of the Executive Order into statute, it also makes changes to the responsibilities of a PIO in order to align the position with planning and reporting requirements provided in this legislation. The Act directs the head of each agency to designate a senior executive of the agency as the agency PIO. In requiring that the PIO be selected from among the agency’s senior executives, the Act attempts to ensure continuity for this position over time in order to help the agency focus on achieving its long-term goals. This long-term focus is especially important because the tenure of political appointees in top leadership positions within an agency usually lasts only a few years. S. Rep. No. 111-372, at 10 (2010).

Related GAO Work

GAO has elaborated on and suggested several practices that support this requirement, including: 

  • implementing the PIO position, along with other leadership roles with specific responsibilities under the GPRA Modernization Act (GAO-13-356); 
  • demonstrating management involvement (GAO-05-927, pp. 19-20); and
  • strengthening leadership commitment to creating and sustaining results-oriented management (GAO-04-38, pp. 69-75 and 101-103).

Goal Leader

Requirements

For each agency performance goal, including each agency priority goal, the goal leader is an agency official responsible for achieving the goal. 31 U.S.C. §§ 1115(b)(5)(E), § 1120(b)(1)(C).

In addition, for agency priority goals the goal leader is to participate in the quarterly reviews conducted by the agency head and chief operating officer of progress toward the goal. 31 U.S.C. § 1121(b)(1).

Select Legislative History

For more on the legislative history of the goal leader’s role, see citations to the legislation concerning the specific planning and reporting activities in which the goal leader is involved, as outlined in the Requirements section above.

Related GAO Work

GAO has elaborated on and suggested several practices that support this requirement, including: 

  • implementing the agency priority goal leader position, along with other leadership roles with specific responsibilities under the GPRA Modernization Act (GAO-13-356); 
  • demonstrating management involvement (GAO-05-927, pp. 19-20); and
  • strengthening leadership commitment to creating and sustaining results-oriented management (GAO-04-38, pp. 69-75 and 101-103).

Accountability for Unmet Goals

Requirements

Each year, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) is to determine which performance goals each agency did not meet based on targets set in agency performance plans, and submit a report on unmet goals to the head of each agency, the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs, the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, and the GAO. 31 U.S.C. § 1116(f).

Agencies are to take different actions depending on how long a goal has been unmet.

  • The first year a goal is unmet, the agency is to submit to OMB a performance improvement plan with measurable milestones covering each unmet goal. The agency is to designate a senior official to oversee the performance improvement strategies to meet each unmet goal. 31 U.S.C. § 1116(g).
  • The second consecutive year a goal is unmet, the agency is to submit to Congress a description of all the actions that will be taken to improve performance, which may include proposed statutory and, if OMB determines it is appropriate, funding changes. 31 U.S.C. § 1116(h).
  • The third consecutive year a goal is unmet, OMB is to submit recommendations to Congress on actions to improve performance, including
    • reauthorization proposals for each program that has not met performance goals;
    • proposed statutory changes necessary for the program to achieve each performance goal; and
    • planned executive actions or identification of the program for termination or reduction in the President’s Budget. 31 U.S.C. § 1116(i).

Select Legislative History

Where an agency has not met its performance goals, the Act requires that the head of the agency submit a performance improvement plan to OMB; where there have been unmet performance goals for two consecutive years, the agency head is required to submit additional information to Congress and to describe additional funding the agency will obligate to achieve the relevant goals. S. Rep. No. 111-372, at 16 (2010).

Related GAO Work

GAO has elaborated on and suggested several practices that support this requirement, including: 

  • using program evaluations to help measure or explain program performance (GAO/GGD-00-204; GAO/GGD-96-66R, pp. 8-10);
  • identifying performance gaps (GAO/GGD-96-118, pp. 32-34); and
  • identifying how the findings of program evaluations are being used to improve performance for unmet goals (GAO/GGD-96-66R, pp. 8-10).
Leadership roles
Congressional Involvement

Congressional Involvement

Congress

Requirements

Consultations on Federal Government Priority Goals

When developing or making adjustments to the federal government priority goals, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) is to obtain majority and minority views from specified Congressional committees:

  • the Senate and House Committees on Appropriations;
  • the Senate and House Committees on the Budget;
  • the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs;
  • the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform;
  • the Senate Committee on Finance;
  • the House Committee on Ways and Means; and
  • any other committees determined appropriate.

31 U.S.C. § 1120(a)(3).

At least every 2 years, OMB is to consult with the appropriate committees of Congress. 31 U.S.C. § 1120(a)(4).

OMB may make adjustments to the goals to reflect significant changes in the federal government’s operating environment, with appropriate notification of Congress. 31 U.S.C. § 1120(a)(2).

Consultations on Agency Strategic Plans

At least every 2 years, including when developing or making adjustments to a strategic plan, the agency is to consult with Congress, including obtaining majority and minority views from the appropriate authorizing, appropriations, and oversight committees. 5 U.S.C. § 306(d).

As needed, the agency may make adjustments to the strategic plan to reflect significant changes in its operating environment, with appropriate notification of Congress. 5 U.S.C. § 306(b).

Consultations on Reducing Agency Reports

Each year, based on guidance provided by the Director of OMB, the agency Chief Operating Officer (COO) is to:

  • compile a list of all plans and reports the agency produces for Congress;
  • analyze the list to identify, and refine the list to, duplicative or outdated plans and reports;
  • consult with Congressional committees that receive the duplicative/outdated plans and reports to see if they are no longer useful and could be consolidated or eliminated; and
  • submit a total count of all plans and reports, and the list of duplicative and outdated ones, to OMB.

31 U.S.C. § 1125(a).

OMB is to include each agency’s list of duplicative and outdated plans and reports in the Budget of the United States Government for consolidation or elimination. In addition, OMB may concurrently submit to Congress legislation to eliminate or consolidate the plans and reports. 31 U.S.C. § 1125(c).

Select Legislative History

Consultations on Federal Government Priority Goals

Successful strategic planning requires the involvement of key stakeholders. This collaboration can serve as a mechanism for building consensus and provides a vehicle for the President to articulate long-term goals and a road map for achieving them. Therefore, when developing or adjusting the goals, and at least once each Congress, the Director is required to consult with key congressional committees and obtain both majority and minority views on the draft goals. S. Rep. No. 111-372, at 8 (2010).

Consultations on Agency Strategic Plans

In waiting to consult with relevant congressional stakeholders until a strategic plan has been substantially drafted and vetted within the executive branch, agencies forego important opportunities to learn early on about specific concerns that will be critical to successful implementation. Therefore, the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs again strongly emphasized that Congressional consultations are to take place during the development of the plan—not after. S. Rep. No. 111-372, at 5 (2010).

This legislation clarifies that the agency shall periodically consult with and obtain majority and minority views from its authorizing, appropriations, and oversight committees when developing or making adjustments to its strategic plan. It also requires Congressional consultations occur at least once every two years; this is to ensure that each Congress has input on the goals, objectives, strategies, and performance measures of the agency. Moreover, it allows the agency to have an opportunity to provide a progress report on its performance and ensures that various committees are getting the types of performance information they need. S. Rep. No. 111-372, at 5 (2010).

Related GAO Work

GAO has elaborated on and suggested several practices that support this requirement, including:

Congressional consultation

Podcasts

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    • J. Christopher Mihm
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