Mercer: GPRA is the key to funding in tough times

Mercer: GPRA is the key to funding in tough times

John Mercer, former counsel to the Senate Governmental Affairs Committee and so-called father of the Government Performance and Results Act, pleaded again with agency leaders to implement performance-based budgeting.

Speaking yesterday at an executive leadership forum sponsored by American Management Systems Inc. of Fairfax, Va., Mercer called performance-based budgeting one of the Bush administration's top priorities. In the midst of war and tight economic times, agencies need to realize they will have to fight harder than ever to get money, he said.

'Agencies are having their budgets scrubbed,' Mercer said.

Performance-based budgeting shows the link between the cost of a program and its outcome. 'Those agencies that can show a strong linkage between dollars and results will be in better standing,' Mercer said.

In the forthcoming fiscal 2003 budget, he said, agencies can expect to see performance-based budgeting stipulated, he said. 'They're going to ask agencies to do things they're not doing now. GPRA went fully into effect in 1997, but very few agencies took that seriously,' he said.

Some listeners said their hands are tied; because budgets are so tight already, they cannot buy the IT necessary to build a performance-based budgeting system.

'EPA is nowhere near being able to do this,' said Nikki Tinsley, inspector general at the Environmental Protection Agency. 'I don't see program managers being able to shift funds. I don't think that's going to happen at EPA.'

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