Managing for Results:

Experiences of Selected Credit Programs

GGD-98-41: Published: Feb 19, 1998. Publicly Released: Feb 19, 1998.

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GAO reviewed major credit agencies' efforts to implement the Government Performance and Results Act of 1993 (GPRA), focusing on: (1) goals and measures established by the selected credit programs that related to the programs' intended purposes; (2) whether the programs had set target levels of performance for assessing their progress in achieving their desired results; (3) the challenges agency officials cited in developing performance information, including goals and measures, for the selected programs and any approaches those programs were taking to address those challenges; and (4) the status of the Federal Credit Policy Working Group's effort to develop common performance measures for federal credit programs.

GAO noted that: (1) in their efforts to implement GPRA, the five credit programs established goals and performance measures that appeared to be generally related to the programs' intended purposes; (2) if the selected programs collect accurate corresponding data on their actual performance, they should be able to monitor their progress in achieving desired results on those measures and have fiscal year (FY) 1998 baseline data to use in setting future targets for those measures; (3) although the selected programs have established goals, measures, and targets in their efforts to implement GPRA, GAO identified three general challenges the programs have been facing in developing performance information; (4) according to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) and the Working Group, comparing results using common measures across credit programs allows program managers and other decisionmakers to identify best practices among those programs that have the potential for improving other credit programs' performance; (5) two general problems have limited the Working Group's progress in developing common performance measures for credit programs; (6) the Working Group anticipated that agencies that administer credit programs could include common financial and programmatic measures in their annual performance plans and reports under the Results Act; (7) however, OMB does not intend to require credit agencies to adopt common performance measures when consensus about the appropriateness of such measures has not been achieved; (8) GAO agreed that OMB should not force the use of common measures when concerns about their appropriateness exist, but the Working Group had not resolved those concerns and had not decided how and when those concerns would be addressed; (9) thus, it is unclear whether OMB and the credit agencies will maintain their current level of attention to developing common measures; (10) also unclear is the extent to which agencies that administer credit programs will include common measures for those programs in their annual performance plans that could provide useful information to decisionmakers interested in making performance and cost comparisons; and (11) GAO believes the potential benefits that could be realized from developing common performance measures, where appropriate, underscore the importance of OMB and the credit agencies continuing their efforts to develop and reach consensus on such measures.

Recommendations for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: OMB's Senior Advisor for Credit and Cash Management said that the primary focus of the Federal Credit Policy Working Group (FCPWG) has been on credit agencies' consistent presentation of common financial measures, such as subsidy rates, in accordance with OMB Circular A-11. However, only the Small Business Administration's FY 1999 annual performance plan presented financial measures using the FCPWG-approved format. The Department of Education is expected to do so in its FY 2000 plan. FCPWG is not leading work on common programmatic measures, including those related to desired loan characteristics, such as the percentage of loans going to borrowers who would otherwise not have access to private credit. However, officials for housing loan programs have developed a Federal Credit Housing Consortium data warehouse to provide loan data such as family income, which could be used to track performance on, for example, increasing home ownership by income groups of $50,000 or less.

    Recommendation: The Director, OMB, should sustain OMB's efforts to work with major credit agencies to use annual performance planning under the Results Act as a vehicle for developing common performance measures across credit programs, where appropriate.

    Agency Affected: Executive Office of the President: Office of Management and Budget

  2. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: OMB Circular A-11 (1999) asks agencies to indicate programs or activities undertaken with other agencies to achieve a common purpose or objective. It also suggests that agencies review the FY 2000 performance plans of other agencies participating with it in a cross-cutting program or activity to ensure that related goals and indicators are consistent and harmonious and to identify goals-in-common that agencies may each choose to include in their annual plans. However, the guidance does not specify that agencies identify those measures that are the same as measures used by other agency programs, or ask agencies to discuss the strengths and limitations of using common measures to make performance and cost comparisons among like programs, such as credit programs. OMB's GPRA Coordinator said that OMB has encouraged but will not likely require agencies to include such information in their plans unless agencies or Congress express their interest or need for such an action.

    Recommendation: The Director, OMB, should require each agency that administers credit programs to identify in their FY 2000 annual performance plans performance measures the agency is using for its credit program(s) that are the same as those used by other credit programs and the strengths and limitations of using those measures to make performance and cost comparisons among those programs.

    Agency Affected: Executive Office of the President: Office of Management and Budget

  3. Status: Closed - Not Implemented

    Comments: OMB Circular A-11 suggests that agencies review the FY 2000 performance plans of other agencies participating in a cross-cutting program or activity and to modify related performance goals and indicators for such programs to bring about greater synergy and interagency support in achieving mutual goals, as appropriate. However, the guidance does not ask agencies to identify what actions are being taken or could be taken to refine the agency's performance measurement efforts to address identified limitations to using existing measures to make performance and cost comparisons across similar programs. OMB has encouraged credit agencies to identify in their plans limitations to using subsidy rate measures to make cost comparisons across credit programs. However, OMB will not likely require agencies do this for their measures unless Congress expresses an interest or need for such an action.

    Recommendation: The Director, OMB, should require each agency that administers credit programs to identify in their FY 2000 annual performance plans what actions, if any, are being taken or could be taken to refine the agency's performance measurement efforts to address the identified limitations to using existing measures to make performance and cost comparisons across credit programs.

    Agency Affected: Executive Office of the President: Office of Management and Budget

 

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