Agencies fail to integrate goals, budgets, GAO says

Agencies fail to integrate goals, budgets, GAO says

Of 35 agency performance plans filed under GPRA, only 14 make the connection, audit team finds

By Christopher J. Dorobek

GCN Staff

When the Clinton administration submitted its 2000 budget in February, agencies filed their first Government Performance and Results Act plans. But most of those plans failed to tie the agencies' goals to their budgets, a report by the General Accounting Office says.

Under the 1993 law, agencies are working to link programs to budgets and performance goals.'But few agencies have translated objectives into budgetary terms that would help lawmakers and agency executives make spending decisions.

As part of the report, Performance Budgeting: Initial Experiences Under the Results Act in Linking Plans With Budgets, GAO auditors reviewed 35 agency performance plans and spending decisions. Most agencies attempted to make the connection, the survey found, but only 14 succeeded.

Unfinished business

'Agencies' first-year experiences show progress in bringing planning and budgeting structures and presentations closer together, but much remains to be done if performance information is to be more useful for budget decision-making,' the GAO report said.

Link efforts

'The linkage between requested funding and performance goals is just one of many elements that need improvement for these plans to be useful for improving program performance,' the report said.

The Results Act lets agencies develop performance plans that work best for them.

Agencies listed up to 47 strategic goals, and the number of strategic objectives ranged from five to 122.

Most agencies ended up with the same basic relationship of many program activities being tied to many performance goals. GAO called this method imprecise.

Instead, the report said, agencies should use a more direct and simple approach whereby a single program activity is linked with multiple performance goals.

Agencies also need to integrate their performance plans with budget justifications, GAO said.

'Ultimately, performance-based management should become an integral part of an agency's culture,' the report said.

The 14 agencies whose performance plans did connect programs, budget and performance generally had direct links between programs and goals, the report said. In addition, the agencies integrated budget and performance goals.

The IRS model

The GAO report praised the IRS for the integration of its budget information and performance goals.

The report said the IRS' performance plan 'shows how information traditionally contained in a budget justification, such as descriptions of accounts and their funding, combined with performance information.'

GAO recommended that the Office of Management and Budget develop guidance to help agencies improve their fiscal 2001 performance plans.

GAO finds 14 agencies link performance goals to budgets

  • Administration for Children and
  • Agency for International
  • Customs Service
  • Employment and Training
  • Energy Department
  • Environmental Protection Agency
  • FBI
  • Food and Nutrition Service
  • Health Resources and Services
  • IRS
  • NASA
  • Nuclear Regulatory Commission
  • Office of Personnel Management
  • Small Business Administration

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