Results Act:

Using Agency Performance Plans to Oversee Early Childhood Programs

T-HEHS-99-93: Published: Mar 25, 1999. Publicly Released: Mar 25, 1999.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO discussed how Congress can use the Government Performance and Results Act to facilitate agency performance plans to oversee early childhood programs, focusing on: (1) how the Results Act can assist in management and congressional oversight, especially in areas where there are multiple programs; (2) how the Departments of Education and Health and Human Services (HHS)--which together administer more than half of the federal early childhood program funds--addressed early childhood programs in their strategic and fiscal year 1999 and 2000 performance plans and the extent to which recent plans show progress in coordinating early childhood programs.

GAO noted that: (1) Congress can use the Results Act to improve its oversight of crosscutting issues because the act requires agencies to develop strategic and annual performance plans that clearly specify goals, objectives, and measures for their programs; (2) the Office of Management and Budget has issued guidance saying that for crosscutting issues, agencies should describe efforts to coordinate federal programs contributing to the same or similar outcomes so that goals are consistent and program efforts are mutually reinforcing; (3) when GAO looked at the Education and HHS plans, it found that the plans are not living up to their potential as expected from the Results Act; (4) more specifically, while the fiscal year 1999 and 2000 plans to some extent addressed coordination, the departments have not yet described in detail how they will coordinate or consolidate their efforts; and (5) therefore, the potential for addressing fragmentation and duplication has not been realized, and GAO cannot assess whether the agencies are effectively working together on crosscutting issues.

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