GAO calls for changes to GPRA law

The General Accounting Office yesterday called for lawmakers to amend the Government Performance and Results Act to require that agencies make better use of performance measures and to increase the administration and congressional oversight of the law's implementation.

In a report to Sens. Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Joseph Lieberman (D-Conn.), chairwoman and ranking member of the Governmental Affairs Committee, and to other committee members, auditors found that 10 years after Congress passed GPRA, implementation still is coming up short.

GAO recommended that Congress revise the law to require agencies to update their strategic plans every four years and 12 to 18 months after a new administration begins, consult with lawmakers every two years, and make interim updates to their plans. Examiners also said the president should develop a governmentwide strategic plan.

'I am pleased that Washington is finally making progress toward becoming a results-oriented government,' Collins said. 'In these tight budgetary times, we need to know which programs work and which do not.'

Examiners found the number of federal managers who said they have specific types of performance measures called for by GPRA increased over the past six years. This has led to improved performance and strategic plans, GAO said.

But the problems that remain can partly be attributed to the lack of Office of Management and Budget leadership and difficulty in setting goals.

'OMB has clearly placed a greater emphasis on management issues during the past several years,' auditors said. But it has shown 'less commitment to GPRA implementation in its guidance to agencies and in using the governmentwide performance plan requirement of GPRA to develop an integrated approach to crosscutting issues.'

GAO recommended that OMB:

  • Develop a governmentwide performance plan


  • Better integrate GPRA and the Performance Assessment Rating Tool, OMB's system to gauge the effectiveness of federal programs over the last two years


  • Provide more consistent guidance to agencies on how to implement GPRA


  • Discuss with agencies how to improve their performance measurements, specifically in grant-making, research and development, and regulatory functions


  • Work with agencies to make sure they provide training on performance planning and measurement.

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