2017 Survey of Organizational Performance and Management Issues

United States Government Accountability Office

Introduction

  The U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO), the evaluation arm of Congress, is studying the use of performance information in the federal government. We are surveying a random, nationwide sample of mid- and upper-level federal managers to obtain information on these managers' experiences and perceptions with regard to organizational performance and management issues. This survey is consistent with similar surveys that we administered in 1996, 1999, 2003, 2007, and 2012. As with past surveys, we will report survey responses in the aggregate at the governmentwide and agency levels to inform the Congress on how federal managers are using performance information to improve agency results.

Additionally, GAO will take steps to ensure the privacy of your responses. We will not include any information that would allow an individual respondent to be identified. We will not release individually identifiable data outside of GAO, unless compelled by law or requested by the Congress.

All of the questions in this questionnaire can be answered by checking boxes or filling in blanks. The questionnaire should take no more than 30 minutes to complete. Please complete this survey within 10 business days of receiving it. We urge you to complete this questionnaire. We cannot develop meaningful information without your frank and honest answers.

To learn more about the survey or if you have any questions, please contact one of the following individuals:

GAO staff contact information appeared here.

Thank you very much for your time.
 

Section 1 - Background

 

Please note:

When we refer to "your agency" in a question, we are referring to the governmental component where you work.
This could be:

An independent agency (e.g., the Environmental Protection Agency).

A cabinet-level department (e.g., the Department of Transportation). If you work for offices that support the Secretary of your department, please consider the cabinet-level department as "your agency."

A major component of that cabinet-level department (e.g., the Federal Aviation Administration, the Army, or the Internal Revenue Service). If you are employed by a cabinet-level department but actually work in a major component of that department, please consider the major component as "your agency."

 
1.  What is your current grade level? (Select one.)

 
  If you answered "Other" above, please specify your grade level.
 
2.  In total, for how many years have you been a supervisor and/or a manager in the federal government? (Please specify the total number of years, rounding up to the nearest year.)

  Total number of years as a supervisor or
manager in the federal government.
  Years
 
            or

   
  If you have never been a supervisor or a manager in the federal government, please check the box to the right.
 
3.  In your current role, approximately how many government employees are you responsible for? (Please answer for your permanent position. Please specify the total number. If none, enter 0.)

  Employees
 

Section 2a - Performance Measurement (Performance Measures)

 

Please note:

Performance measures track progress towards achieving agency goals or objectives or measure a program/operation/project’s overall performance. These measures can be quantitative or qualitative.

For the following questions, please interpret "performance measures" in the broadest sense.

 
4.  Are there performance measures for the program(s)/operation(s)/project(s) that you are involved with? (Select one.)

(Click here to skip to Section 2b - Performance Measurement (Performance Information))
(Click here to skip to Section 2b - Performance Measurement (Performance Information))
 
5.  To what extent, if at all, do you agree with the following statements as they relate to performance measures for the program(s)/operation(s)/project(s) that you are involved with? (Select one answer in each row.)

   
Very great
extent
Great
extent
Moderate
extent
Small
extent
No
extent
No basis to judge/Not applicable
5a.  We have performance measures that tell us how many things we produce or services we provide (Output measures)
5b.  We have performance measures that tell us if we are operating efficiently (Efficiency measures)
5c.  We have performance measures that tell us whether or not we are satisfying our customers (Customer service measures)
5d.  We have performance measures that tell us about the quality of the products or services we provide (Quality measures)
5e.  We have performance measures that would demonstrate to someone outside of our agency whether or not we are achieving our intended results (Outcome measures)
 

Section 2b - Performance Measurement (Performance Information)

 

Please note:

Performance information is data collected to measure progress toward achieving an agency's established mission or program-related goals or objectives.


Performance information can focus on performance measures, such as quality, timeliness, customer satisfaction, or efficiency. It can inform key management decisions such as setting program priorities, allocating resources, or identifying program problems and taking corrective action to solve those problems.

 
6.  To what extent, if at all, do you agree with the following statements? (Select one answer in each row.)

   
Very great
extent
Great
extent
Moderate
extent
Small
extent
No
extent
No basis to judge/Not applicable
6a.  My agency's performance information is easily accessible to managers at my level
6b.  My agency's performance information is easily accessible to employees
6c.  My agency's performance information is easily accessible to the public, as appropriate
6d.  My agency's performance information is available in a format that is easy to use
6e.  My agency has sufficient analytical tools for managers at my level to collect, analyze, and use performance information
6f.  I have access to the performance information I need to manage the program(s)/operation(s)/project(s) that I am involved with
6g.  Performance information is available in time to manage the
program(s)/operation(s)/project(s) that I am involved with
6h.  The program(s)/operation(s)/
project(s) that I am involved with have sufficient staff with the knowledge and skills needed to analyze performance information
 
7.  For those program(s)/operation(s)/project(s) that you are involved with, to what extent, if at all, do you use the information obtained from performance measurement when participating in the following activities? (Select one answer in each row.)

   
Very great
extent
Great
extent
Moderate
extent
Small
extent
No
extent
No basis to judge/Not applicable
7a.  Developing program strategy
7b.  Setting program priorities
7c.  Allocating resources
7d.  Identifying program problems to be addressed
7e.  Taking corrective action to solve program problems
7f.  Adopting new program approaches or changing work processes
7g.  Coordinating program efforts with other internal or external organizations
7h.  Refining program performance measures
 
   
Very great
extent
Great
extent
Moderate
extent
Small
extent
No
extent
No basis to judge/Not applicable
7i.  Setting new or revising existing performance goals
7j.  Setting individual job expectations for the government employees I manage or supervise
7k.  Rewarding government employees I manage or supervise
7l.  Developing and managing contracts
7m.  Identifying and sharing effective program approaches with others
7n.  Informing the public about how programs are performing
7o.  Streamlining programs to reduce duplicative activities
 
8.  Based on your experience with the program(s)/operation(s)/project(s) that you are involved with, to what extent, if at all, have the following factors hindered measuring performance or using the performance information? (Select one answer in each row.)

   
Very great
extent
Great
extent
Moderate
extent
Small
extent
No
extent
No basis to judge/Not applicable
8a.  Difficulty determining meaningful measures
8b.  Different parties are using different definitions to measure performance
8c.  Difficulty obtaining valid or reliable data
8d.  Difficulty obtaining data in time to be useful
8e.  Lack of ongoing Congressional commitment or support for using performance information to make program/funding decisions
8f.  Difficulty determining how to use performance information to improve the program
8g.  Concern that performance information could be used against my program or agency
 

Section 3 - Agency Climate

9.  To what extent, if at all, do you agree with the following statements? (Select one answer in each row.)

   
Very great
extent
Great
extent
Moderate
extent
Small
extent
No
extent
No basis to judge/Not applicable
9a.  Agency managers/supervisors at my level have the decision making authority they need to help the agency accomplish its strategic goals
9b.  Agency managers/supervisors at my level are held accountable for agency accomplishment of its strategic goals
9c.  Agency managers/supervisors at my level are held accountable for the results of the program(s)/operation(s)/project(s) they are responsible for
9d.  Agency managers/supervisors at my level use performance information to recognize employees for their performance
9e.  Employees in my agency receive positive recognition for helping the agency accomplish its strategic goals
9f.  My agency is investing the resources needed to ensure that its performance data is of sufficient quality
9g.  My agency's top leadership demonstrates a strong commitment to achieving results
 
   
Very great
extent
Great
extent
Moderate
extent
Small
extent
No
extent
No basis to judge/Not applicable
9h.  My agency's top leadership demonstrates a strong commitment to using performance information to guide decision making
9i.  My agency is investing in resources to improve the agency's capacity to use performance information
9j.  Agency managers/supervisors at my level take steps to align program performance measures with agencywide goals and objectives
9k.  Agency managers/supervisors at my level effectively communicate performance information on a routine basis
9l.  Agency managers/supervisors at my level take steps to ensure that performance information is useful and/or appropriate
9m.  Agency managers/supervisors at my level use performance information to share effective program approaches with others
 
10.  To what extent, if at all, do you agree with the following statements? (Select one answer in each row.)

   
Very great
extent
Great
extent
Moderate
extent
Small
extent
No
extent
No basis to judge/Not applicable
10a.  The individual I report to periodically reviews with me the results or outcomes of the
program(s)/operation(s)/project(s) that I am responsible for
10b.  Funding decisions for the
program(s)/operation(s)/project(s)
I am responsible for are based on results- or outcome-oriented performance information
10c.  Changes by management above my level to the program(s)/
operation(s)/project(s) I am responsible for are based on results- or outcome-oriented performance information
10d.  I have sufficient information on the validity of the performance data I use to make decisions
 
11.  To what extent, if at all, do you believe that the following persons or entities pay attention to your agency's use of performance information in management decision making? (Select one answer in each row.)

   
Very great
extent
Great
extent
Moderate
extent
Small
extent
No
extent
No basis to judge/Not applicable
11a.  Department Secretary or Head of Independent Agency
11b.  Head of Major Component of Cabinet-level Department (if applicable)
11c.  The individual I report to
11d.  Employees that report to me
11e.  Office of Management and Budget (OMB)
11f.  Federal agencies other than OMB
11g.  Congressional committees (e.g., members, staff)
11h.  The audit community (e.g., GAO, Inspectors General)
11i.  The general public
 
12.  Compared to three years ago, how much more or less attention do the following persons or entities pay to your agency's use of performance information in management decision making? (Select one answer in each row.)

   
A great deal
more
Somewhat
more
About the
same
Somewhat
less
A great deal
less
No basis to judge/Not applicable
12a.  Department Secretary or Head of Independent Agency
12b.  Head of Major Component of Cabinet-level Department (if applicable)
12c.  The individual I report to
12d.  Employees that report to me
12e.  Office of Management and Budget (OMB)
12f.  Federal agencies other than OMB
12g.  Congressional committees (e.g., members, staff)
12h.  The audit community (e.g., GAO, Inspectors General)
12i.  The general public
 

Section 4 - Training

13.  During the past 3 years, has your agency provided, arranged, or paid for training that would help you to accomplish the following tasks? (Select one answer in each row.)

   
Yes
No
13a.  Conduct strategic planning
13b.  Set program performance goals
13c.  Develop program performance measures
13d.  Assess the quality of performance data
13e.  Use program performance information to make decisions
13f.  Link the performance of program(s)/operation(s)/
project(s) to the achievement of agency strategic goals
 

Section 5a - Cross-Agency Priority Goals

 
Questions 14 through 17 ask about cross-agency priority goals and agency priority goals, which are not applicable to NRC. Please continue to question 18.
 
 

Please note:

Federal government cross-agency priority goals, also referred to as crosscutting goals, require the collaboration of multiple agencies to achieve the goals. The Administration has identified 15 cross-agency priority goals that were published concurrently with the Fiscal Year 2015 Budget of the U.S. Government.

The cross-agency priority goals include:

(1) Cybersecurity: Improve cybersecurity performance through ongoing awareness of information security, vulnerabilities, and threats impacting the operating information environment, ensuring that only authorized users have access to resources and information; and the implementation of technologies and processes that reduce the risk of malware.

(2) Climate Change: More than double Federal government consumption of electricity from renewable sources to 20% by 2020 and improve energy efficiency at Federal facilities as part of the wider strategy to reduce the Federal Government's direct greenhouse gas emissions by 40 percent by 2025 (2008 baseline).

(3) Insider Threat and Security Clearance Reform: Mitigate the inherent risks and vulnerabilities posed by personnel with trusted access to government information, facilities, systems, and other personnel.

(4) Job-Creating Investment: Improve federal investment tools and resources, while also increasing interagency coordination, to encourage foreign direct investment, spurring job growth.

(5) Infrastructure Permitting Modernization: Modernize the Federal permitting and review process for major infrastructure projects to reduce uncertainty for project applicants, reduce the aggregate time it takes to conduct reviews and make permitting decisions by half, and produce measurably better environmental and community outcomes.

(6) Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) Education: Improve Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) Education by implementing the Federal STEM Education 5-Year Strategic Plan, announced in May 2013, specifically:

          • Improve STEM instruction
          • Increase and sustain youth and public engagement in STEM
          • Enhance STEM experience of undergraduate students
          • Better serve groups historically under-represented in STEM fields
          • Design graduate education for tomorrow's STEM workforce
          • Build new models for leveraging assets and expertise
          • Build and use evidence-based approaches

(7) Service Members and Veterans Mental Health: Improve mental health outcomes for Service Members, Veterans and their Families

(8) Customer Service: Deliver world-class customer services to citizens by making it faster and easier for individuals and businesses to complete transactions and have a positive experience with government.

(9) Smarter IT Delivery: Improve outcomes and customer satisfaction with Federal services through smarter IT delivery and stronger agency accountability for success.

(10) Category Management: Expand the use of high-quality, high-value strategic sourcing solutions in order to improve the government's buying power and reduce contract duplication.

(11) Shared Services: Strategically expand high-quality, high value shared services to improve performance and efficiency throughout government.

(12) Benchmark and Improve Mission-Support Operations: Improve administrative efficiency and increase the adoption of effective management practices by establishing cost and quality benchmarks of mission-support operations and giving agency decision-makers better data to compare options, allocate resources, and improve processes.

(13) Open Data: Fuel entrepreneurship and innovation and improve government efficiency and effectiveness by unlocking the value of government data and adopting management approaches that promote interoperability and openness of this data.

(14) Lab-to-Market: Increase the economic impact of Federally-funded research and development by accelerating and improving the transfer of new technologies from the laboratory to the commercial marketplace.

(15) People and Culture: Innovate by unlocking the full potential of the workforce we have today and building the workforce we need for tomorrow.

 
 

In the following question, "agency" refers only to your cabinet-level department (e.g., Department of Transportation) or independent agency (e.g., Environmental Protection Agency).

Please do not consider activities at the major component level (e.g., Federal Aviation Administration, Army, Internal Revenue Service).

 
14.  How familiar are you with one or more of the cross-agency priority goals? (Select one.)

(Click here to skip to Section 5b - Agency Priority Goals)
 
15.  To what extent, if at all, do you agree with the following statements as they relate to one or more of the cross-agency priority goals listed above? (Select one answer in each row.)

   
Very great
extent
Great
extent
Moderate
extent
Small
extent
No
extent
No basis to judge/Not applicable
15a.  I have been involved in creating the cross-agency priority goals
15b.  The program(s)/operation(s)/
project(s) I am involved with contribute to the achievement of one or more cross-agency priority goals
15c.  I have collaborated outside of my program(s)/operation(s)/project(s) to help achieve the cross-agency priority goals
15d.  Cross-agency priority goals have had an impact on decision making regarding the
program(s)/operation(s)/project(s) I am involved with
15e.  My agency has communicated to its employees about its progress in contributing to relevant cross-agency priority goals
 

Section 5b - Agency Priority Goals

 

Please Note:

Agency priority goals are a limited number of performance goals that advance progress towards the agency's strategic goals, near-term outcomes, and improvements in customer responsiveness, or efficiencies. These goals are to reflect the highest priorities of the agency. Your agency's priority goals as published concurrently with the Fiscal Year 2015 Budget of the U.S. Government are listed below. (Note: Some agencies may be in the process of updating these goals.)

 
  A list of each agency's priority goals appeared here.
 
 

In the following question, "agency" refers only to your cabinet-level department (e.g., Department of Transportation) or independent agency (e.g., Environmental Protection Agency).

Please do not consider activities at the major component level (e.g., Federal Aviation Administration, Army, Internal Revenue Service).

 
16.  How familiar are you with one or more of your agency's priority goals? (Select one.)

(Click here to skip to Section 5c - Quarterly Performance Reviews)
 
17.  To what extent, if at all, do you agree with the following statements as they relate to agency priority goals? (Select one answer in each row.)

   
Very great
extent
Great
extent
Moderate
extent
Small
extent
No
extent
No basis to judge/Not applicable
17a.  I have been involved in creating my agency's priority goals
17b.  My agency's priority goals reflect the highest priorities of my agency
17c.  My agency priority goals measure if the program is achieving its intended purpose, instead of focusing solely on what can easily be measured
17d.  My agency has communicated to employees about its progress toward achieving priority goals
17e.  The program(s)/operation(s)/
project(s) I am involved with contribute to the achievement of one or more of my agency's priority goals
17f.  I have collaborated outside of my
program(s)/operation(s)/project(s) to help achieve one or more of my agency's priority goals
17g.  My agency uses the information collected on agency priority goals to make decisions regarding the
program(s)/operation(s)/project(s) I am involved with
 

Section 5c - Quarterly Performance Reviews

 

Please Note:

Quarterly performance reviews, which some agencies refer to as "stat" meetings or data-driven performance reviews, are regular meetings held at the highest levels of your agency to examine progress toward accomplishing agency priority goals, and in some cases, other agency performance goals.

These reviews should, among other things, assess agencies’ coordination efforts; activities and contributions to goals; and strategies for improvement, when applicable. Quarterly performance reviews are to involve key leadership and other relevant parties.

These reviews may be conducted more frequently than quarterly.

In the following questions, "quarterly performance reviews" refers to all aspects of these reviews, including preparation, review, and follow-up.

 
 

In the following question, "agency" refers only to your cabinet-level department (e.g., Department of Transportation) or independent agency (e.g., Environmental Protection Agency).

Please do not consider activities at the major component level (e.g., Federal Aviation Administration, Army, Internal Revenue Service).

 
18.  How familiar are you with your agency's quarterly performance reviews? (Select one.)

(Click here to skip to Section 6 - Program Evaluation)
 
19.  To what extent, if at all, do you agree with the following statements as they relate to your agency's quarterly performance reviews? (Select one answer in each row.)

   
Very great
extent
Great
extent
Moderate
extent
Small
extent
No
extent
No basis to judge/Not applicable
19a.  Overall, the program(s)/operation(s)/project(s) that I am involved with has been the subject of these reviews
19b.  These reviews are held on a regular, routine basis
19c.  These reviews focus on goals and objectives that are aligned with my agency's strategic and performance plans
19d.  Agency leadership actively participates in these reviews
19e.  My agency uses these reviews to identify problems or opportunities associated with agency performance goals
19f.  Agency leadership uses these reviews to help achieve agency performance goals
19g.  These reviews include staff with relevant knowledge needed to facilitate problem solving and identify improvement opportunities
19h.  These reviews include officials external to the agency who contribute to the goals discussed at the reviews
19i.  My agency has the performance information needed for these reviews
 
   
Very great
extent
Great
extent
Moderate
extent
Small
extent
No
extent
No basis to judge/Not applicable
19j.  My agency has the capacity to analyze the performance information needed for these reviews
19k.  Performance information for these reviews is communicated to relevant parties in an easy-to-understand, useful format
19l.  My agency has a process in place for following up on problems or opportunities identified through these reviews
19m.  Program managers/supervisors at my level are recognized for meeting performance goals discussed at these reviews
19n.  Program managers/supervisors at my level are penalized for not meeting performance goals discussed at these reviews
19o.  Discussion at these reviews provides a forum for honest, constructive feedback
19p.  These reviews have led to similar meetings at lower levels
19q.  I think my agency's quarterly performance reviews are worthwhile
 

Section 6 - Program Evaluation

 

Please note:

Program Evaluations are individual, systematic studies using research methods to assess how well a program, operation or project is achieving its objectives and the reasons why it may, or may not, be performing as expected. Program evaluations answer specific questions such as how well a program is operating, whether a program is reaching targeted recipients, why a program is not achieving its desired outcomes, or whether one approach is more effective than another.

Program evaluation as defined here does not include routine program monitoring activities or quarterly performance reviews.

 
20.  Have there been any program evaluations completed within the past 5 years for any of the program(s)/operation(s)/project(s) that you were involved with? (Select one.)

(Click here to skip to Section 7 - Comments and Final Response Submission)
(Click here to skip to Section 7 - Comments and Final Response Submission)
 
21.  For those program evaluations completed within the past 5 years, which of the following entities was primarily responsible for those studies? Note: By primarily responsible, we mean either directly conducted or contracted for those studies (Select one answer in each row.)

   
Yes
No
Not sure
21a.  My agency or the program itself
21b.  An individual program grantee or project
21c.  My agency's IG (Inspector General)
21d.  GAO (Government Accountability Office)
21e.  Another entity not specified above
 
  If you answered "Another entity not specified above," please specify the other entity here.
 
22.  For the program(s)/operation(s)/project(s) that you were involved with over the past 5 years that were evaluated, to what extent, if at all, have the program evaluations contributed to the following activities? (Select one answer in each row.)

   
Very great
extent
Great
extent
Moderate
extent
Small
extent
No
extent
No basis to judge/Not applicable
22a.  Implementing changes to improve program management or performance
22b.  Developing or revising performance goals
22c.  Supplementing or explaining performance results
22d.  Assessing program effectiveness, value or worth
22e.  Allocating resources within the program
22f.  Increasing understanding about the program or topic
22g.  Sharing what works or other lessons learned with others
22h.  Designing or supporting program reforms
22i.  Supporting program budget requests
22j.  Informing the public about how programs are performing
22k.  Streamlining programs to reduce duplicative activities
 
23.  Based on your experience with the program(s)/operation(s)/project(s) you were involved with over the past 5 years that were evaluated, to what extent, if at all, have the following factors hindered the agency's use of the program evaluation(s)? (Select one answer in each row.)

   
Very great
extent
Great
extent
Moderate
extent
Small
extent
No
extent
No basis to judge/Not applicable
23a.  Concerns about the credibility (validity or reliability) of study results
23b.  Difficulty obtaining study results in time to be useful
23c.  Difficulty resolving differences of opinion among internal or external stakeholders
23d.  Concerns that the evaluation did not address issues that are important to decision-makers
23e.  Difficulty distinguishing between the results produced by the program and the results caused by other factors
23f.  Lack of staff who are knowledgeable about interpreting or analyzing program evaluation results
 
   
Very great
extent
Great
extent
Moderate
extent
Small
extent
No
extent
No basis to judge/Not applicable
23g.  Difficulty determining how to use evaluation findings to improve the program
23h.  Difficulty generalizing the results to other persons or locations
23i.  Difficulty accepting evaluation findings that do not conform to expectations
23j.  Lack of ongoing top executive commitment or support for using program evaluation to make program or funding decisions
23k.  Lack of ongoing Congressional commitment or support for using program evaluation to make program or funding decisions
23l.  Lack of resources to implement the evaluation findings
 
24.  Based on your experience with the program(s)/operation(s)/project(s) you were involved with over the past 5 years that were evaluated, to what extent, if at all, have the following factors facilitated the agency’s use of the program evaluation(s)? (Select one answer in each row.)

   
Very great
extent
Great
extent
Moderate
extent
Small
extent
No
extent
No basis to judge/Not applicable
24a.  Top executive commitment or support for using program evaluation to make program or funding decisions
24b.  Congressional requests or mandates
24c.  Consultation with stakeholders on the agency’s evaluation agenda
24d.  Importance of the evaluation’s issues to agency decision makers
24e.  Program staff involvement in planning and conducting evaluation studies
24f.  Providing program staff or grantees with technical assistance on evaluation and its use
 
   
Very great
extent
Great
extent
Moderate
extent
Small
extent
No
extent
No basis to judge/Not applicable
24g.  Agency staff ability to make recommended program changes
24h.  Agency policies or procedures to ensure evaluation quality
24i.  Clear implications of results for improving program design or management
24j.  Consideration of evaluation findings in agency quarterly performance reviews
24k.  Internal presentations of evaluation methods or findings (e.g. brown bags)
24l.  Tracking implementation of study recommendations
 

Section 7 - Comments and Final Response Submission

   
 
25.  If you have any additional comments regarding any of the topics we have covered in this survey, please use the space provided below.

 
26.  Are you ready to submit your final completed survey to GAO?
(This is equivalent to mailing a completed paper survey to us. It tells us that your answers are official and final.)

 
  You may view and print your completed survey by clicking on the Print button below.

Thank you very much for your assistance.





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U.S. Government Accountability Office

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