Congress threatens a strategic plan redo

Originally, the GPRA called for submission of the plans every three years. But House
leaders said the plans are inadequate and need fixes sooner.


"Most agencies do not seem to know where they are, where they are going or how to
tell if their programs are improving the nation in tangible ways," House Majority
leader Richard Armey (R-Texas) said.


Armey said there is "still considerable overlap in federal programs, little
coordination between similar programs and an abysmal failure in the government to provide
taxpayers with credible performance information."


The comments came after House and Senate leaders issued a report, giving all but two
agencies failing grades for their GPRA strategic plans.


The congressional report, Results Act: It's the Law, gave Fs and Ds to 22 of the
24 agencies that were required to file their strategic plans.


Only the Education and Transportation departments passed, with C grades.


Under the 1993 law, agencies had to file the five-year strategic plans by Sept. 30. The
plans were supposed to detail each agency's goals and a method for measuring performance.


Rep. Dan Burton (R-Ind.), chairman of the House Government Reform and Oversight
Committee, said he will introduce a bill that would make agencies submit new strategic
plans next year.


"If we wait three years, the agencies have a tendency to drift, and we cannot
allow that to happen," he said.


Sen. Larry Craig (R-Idaho) said he will introduce similar legislation.


Armey's office issued an interim report in September after agencies had filed draft
plans. In that report, the Social Security Administration received the highest grade with
62 of 100 points. Labor got the lowest grade with 6.5 points [GCN, Sept. 15, Page
90].


The latest report puts Transportation at the top of the chart with 75 points and
Commerce at the bottom with 28 points.


Armey said agencies have shown progress since summer but called on Vice President Al
Gore to encourage agencies to do a better job.


Agencies should expect budget cuts if they cannot convince lawmakers that the funds
they seek for programs are making a difference for taxpayers, warned House Budget
Committee chairman John Kasich (R-Ohio).


"We are going to sharpen our pencils, and we are going to trap them into giving us
more useful information," he said.


That information, Kasich said, will give the Republicans ammunition to silence critics
when "we get rid of the government."


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