Managing For Results:

Enhancing the Usefulness of GPRA Consultations Between the Executive Branch and Congress

T-GGD-97-56: Published: Mar 10, 1997. Publicly Released: Mar 10, 1997.

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GAO discussed ways to enhance the usefulness of consultations between executive branch agencies and Congress as the agencies develop their strategic plans, as required by the Government Performance and Results Act (GPRA).

GAO noted that: (1) although GPRA requires congressional consultations, it does not specify what constitutes a consultation, at what point in the development process of a strategic plan the consultations should take place, or which committees should be involved in consultations; (2) both committee staff and agency officials GAO interviewed recognize that the consultations on strategic planning are important to developing an agency plan that appropriately takes into account the views of Congress; (3) however, as is to expected during the initial stages of a new effort, all participants are struggling to define how the consultation process can work effectively; (4) although the establishment of a set of best practices, or the attainment of common understandings of what consultations will entail, can help ensure that those consultations are as productive as possible, no single set of best practices has yet emerged; (5) instead, GAO's work on preliminary consultations suggested some general approaches that may contribute to the usefulness of future consultations, including: (a) creating shared expectations; (b) engaging the right people; (c) addressing differing views of what is to be discussed; and (d) establishing a consultation process that is iterative; (6) a recent letter to the Director of the Office of Management and Budget from the Speaker of the House, the House Majority Leader, the Senate Majority Leader, and key committee chairmen from both the House and the Senate on GPRA-required consultations should provide a good foundation for successful consultations; (7) ultimately, the guidelines included in the letter, the approaches GAO identified, and other practices that may emerge as agency officials and committee staff continue to learn to work together in developing strategic plans, can help create a set of practices that promote successful consultations; and (8) successful consultations, in turn, can promote a basic understanding among the stakeholders of the competing demands that confront most agencies and congressional staff, the limited resources available to them, and how those demands and resources require careful and continuous balancing.

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