Performance and Accountability and High-Risk Series:

Responses to Questions

OCG-99-25R: Published: Mar 29, 1999. Publicly Released: Mar 29, 1999.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO responded to congressional concerns relating to GAO's testimony on its performance and accountability and high risk series, focusing on: (1) what can be done to provide agencies with greater incentives to resolve their high risk problems; (2) whether agencies are using the Government Performance and Results Act to address uncoordinated crosscutting programs; (3) whether the federal government could solve its management problems by adopting private-sector practices; (4) what government functions would benefit from privatization and public-private partnerships; and (5) how long the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) will be on GAO's high risk list.

GAO noted that: (1) continued congressional oversight is important in providing agencies with greater incentives and motivation to take actions on their problems; (2) GAO's reviews of agencies' fiscal year 1997 strategic plans and fiscal year 1999 annual performance plans suggested that agencies had begun the difficult process of ensuring crosscutting programs that contribute to the same or similar result are properly coordinated; (3) however, GAO also found that the substantive work of coordination was not yet apparent; (4) for many activities GAO believes that the federal government can benefit greatly by learning from, benchmarking against, and competing with the private sector; (5) the private sector has been an engine of innovation in this country, and government will always have much to gain from taking advantage of successful concepts that originate there; (6) the congressional oversight process can be an effective vehicle to ensure that agencies are learning management practices from one another, other governments, and the private sector; (7) GAO has consistently supported the concept of encouraging competition between government and contractor workforces in the provision of commercial services; (8) while certain functions are inherently governmental and should be performed by government employees, competition based on cost, quality, and effectiveness should govern whether other functions are performed by the private sector or the government; (9) it is difficult to predict when HUD's high-risk designation can be removed; and (10) HUD is making significant changes and has made credible progress since 1997 in laying the framework for improving its management.

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