Rep. Platts tries again to set rules on agency program assessments

Congressman Todd Platts yesterday reintroduced a bill to hold agencies more accountable for the performance of their programs.

The Pennsylvania Republican's Program Assessment and Results Act mirrors the bill that the Government Reform Committee passed last October, and includes a few significant changes from the original one Platts introduced last February. The full House never voted on the bill.

Platts, chairman of the Government Reform Subcommittee on Government Efficiency and Financial Management, held four hearings last session on management reform and tweaked the bill based on those hearings, and input from other lawmakers and the administration.

'This bill is a lot better than the one a year ago,' said Mike Hettinger, staff director for the subcommittee. 'We understand the bill better and we worked hard with [the Office of Management and Budget] and the minority. We had countless meetings and markups and we think we've got it just about where it needs to be to give OMB the flexibility to do the reviews, and make it work for agencies to get the type of empirical evidence you want from these reviews.'

The changes to the original bill include a requirement that OMB work closely with agency executives to evaluate the programs instead of mandating the White House perform all the assessments on their own. Platts also removed the act's sunset date of 2013 and added a requirement that OMB and agencies make the reviews available to the public, Hettinger said.

'The point of this bill is if you think it is a good idea to review government programs on a micro level, then you want to put it in statute that these program evaluations need to be done,' Hettinger said. 'We don't specify how it needs to be done, but just that it gets done.'

Sen. Paul Fitzgerald (R-Ill.) sponsored a companion bill last year. But Fitzgerald has retired, so Platts will need to find another Senate sponsor, Hettinger said.

The new bill will go through hearings and markups in the subcommittee and full committee later this spring, Hettinger added.

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