Managing for Results:

Using GPRA to Help Congressional Decisionmaking and Strengthen Oversight

T-GGD-00-95: Published: Mar 22, 2000. Publicly Released: Mar 22, 2000.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO discussed the House Committees' use of the Government Performance and Results Act (GPRA) of 1993 to inform their decisionmaking and oversight, focusing on: (1) an overview of the implementation of the GPRA across the executive branch and why the government is at a critical stage in GPRA's implementation; (2) how the House has used GPRA to improve programmatic oversight and decisionmaking and to conduct oversight over selected agencies' efforts to implement the Act; and (3) ways that GPRA can be used to address some of the critical program and management issues confronting the federal government.

GAO noted that: (1) House Committees have made use of GPRA in conducting oversight and making decisions about federal program efforts; (2) the House also has been actively involved in overseeing and assessing agencies' progress in implementing the Act; (3) however, the first annual performance reports, which are now being issued, offer the opportunity to move Congress' and the executive branch's use of GPRA to a deeper and more substantive level; (4) these reports, which are to provide the first governmentwide information on the performance of federal programs, should prove valuable to Congress as it seeks to improve the performance, management, and accountability of the federal government; (5) GAO has long advocated that congressional committees of jurisdiction hold augmented oversight hearings on each of the major agencies at least once each Congress and preferably on an annual basis; (6) information in agencies' plans and reports produced under the Results Act, high-quality financial and program cost data, and other related information can help Congress in targeting its oversight efforts and identifying opportunities for additional improvements in agencies' management; and (7) this information on missions, goals, strategies, resources, costs, and results could provide a consistent starting point for each of these hearings and allow for more informed discussions about issues such as the following: (a) what progress the agency is making in limiting its vulnerability to fraud, waste, abuse, and mismanagement by addressing mission-critical management challenges and program risks; (b) whether the agency has the best mix of programs, initiatives, and other strategies to achieve results and operate in an economical and efficient manner; (c) whether the agency is pursuing the right goals and making progress toward achieving them; (d) whether the eligibility rules for federal benefit programs are properly targeted and whether opportunities exist for reform, reduction, or termination based on changing conditions and perceptions of need; (e) whether the federal government is effectively coordinating its responses to pressing national needs; (f) whether the federal government is achieving an expected level of performance for the budgetary and other resource commitments that have been provided; (g) whether there are efforts under way to ensure that the agency's human capital strategies are linked to strategic and programmatic planning and accountability mechanisms; and (h) what the status of the agency's efforts to use information technology to achieve results is.

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