Managing for Results:

Experiences Abroad Suggest Insights for Federal Management Reforms

GGD-95-120: Published: May 2, 1995. Publicly Released: May 2, 1995.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed the experiences of Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and the United Kingdom in implementing management reforms that U.S. federal agencies may wish to consider during their implementation of the Government Performance and Results Act.

GAO found that: (1) the four countries' reform approaches included establishing and communicating a clear direction by defining agency missions and goals through strategic planning, linking annual objectives to missions and goals through operating plans, measuring output-oriented results, and reporting progress; (2) program outcomes were difficult to measure accurately because conditions beyond managers' control affected the outcomes; (3) key lessons learned focused on enhancing the usefulness of performance measures, making performance measures selective and balanced, including qualitative and quantitative information in performance measurement systems, and providing aggregate detailed information to upper management and program managers; (4) the countries held managers accountable for program results through published performance standards and public surveys, performance goal agreements, and reports to their parliaments; (5) to give managers more flexibility to achieve reforms, the countries eliminated central control of departments' operating expenditures and staffing levels and provided departments with more authority and incentives to manage resources within overall budget ceilings; and (6) changing the government culture in the four countries required that agencies be held accountable for program results.

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