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United States Government Accountability Office: 


Before the Subcommittee on Oversight of Government Management, the 
Federal Workforce, and the District of Columbia, and the Subcommittee 
on Federal Financial Management, Government Information, Federal 
Services, and International Security, Committee on Homeland Security 
and Governmental Affairs, U.S. Senate: 

For Release on Delivery: 
Expected at 2:30 p.m. EDT:
Tuesday, May 10, 2011: 

Managing For Results: 

GPRA Modernization Act Implementation Provides Important Opportunities 
to Address Government Challenges: 

Statement of Gene L. Dodaro: 
Comptroller General of the United States: 


GAO Highlights: 

Highlights of GAO-11-617T, a testimony before two subcommittees of the 
Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs, U.S. Senate. 

Why GAO Did This Study: 

The federal government is the world’s largest and most complex entity, 
with about $3.5 trillion in outlays in fiscal year 2010 that fund a 
broad array of programs and operations. GAO’s long-term simulations of 
the federal budget show-—absent policy change-—growing deficits 
accumulating to an unsustainable increase in debt. While the spending 
side is driven by rising health care costs and demographics, other 
areas should also be scrutinized. In addition, there are significant 
performance and management challenges that the federal government 
needs to confront. 

GAO was asked to testify on the Government Performance and Results Act 
(GPRA) Modernization Act of 2010 (GPRAMA), as the administration 
begins implementing the act. This statement is based on GAO’s past and 
ongoing work on GPRA implementation, as well as recently issued 
reports (1) identifying opportunities to reduce potential duplication 
in government programs, save tax dollars, and enhance revenue; and (2) 
updating GAO’s list of government operations at high risk due to their 
greater vulnerabilities to fraud, waste, abuse, and mismanagement, or 
the need for transformation. As required by GPRAMA, GAO will 
periodically evaluate implementation of the act and report to Congress 
on its findings and recommendations. 

What GAO Found: 

GAO’s past and ongoing work illustrates how GPRAMA could, if 
effectively implemented, help address government challenges in five 

Instituting a more coordinated and crosscutting approach to achieving 
meaningful results. GPRAMA could help inform reexamination or 
restructuring efforts and lead to more effective, efficient, and 
economical service delivery in overlapping program areas by 
identifying the various agencies and federal activities—including 
spending programs, regulations, and tax expenditures—that contribute 
to crosscutting outcomes. These program areas could include numerous 
teacher quality initiatives or multiple employment and training 
programs, among others. 

Focusing on addressing weaknesses in major management functions. 
Agencies need more effective management capabilities to better 
implement their programs and policies. GPRAMA requires long-term goals 
to improve management functions in five key areas: financial, human 
capital, information technology, procurement and acquisition, and real 
property management. GAO’s work has highlighted opportunities for 
improvements in each of these areas and aspects of all of them are on 
the GAO high risk list. 

Ensuring performance information is both useful and used in decision 
making. Agencies need to consider the differing needs of various 
stakeholders, including Congress, to ensure that performance 
information will be both useful and used. For performance information 
to be useful, it must be complete, accurate, valid, timely, and easy 
to use. Yet decision makers often do not have the quality performance 
information they need to improve results. To help address this need, 
GPRAMA requires (1) disclosure of information about accuracy and 
validity, (2) data on crosscutting areas, and (3) quarterly reporting 
on priority goals on a publicly available Web site. 

Sustaining leadership commitment and accountability for achieving 
results. Perhaps the single most important element of successful 
management improvement initiatives is the demonstrated commitment of 
top leaders, as shown by their personal involvement in reform efforts. 
GPRAMA assigns responsibilities to a Chief Operating Officer and 
Performance Improvement Officer in each agency to improve agency 
management and performance. 

Engaging Congress in identifying management and performance issues to 
address. In order for performance improvement initiatives to be useful 
to Congress for its decision making, garnering congressional buy-in on 
what to measure and how to present this information is critical. GAO 
has previously noted the importance of considering Congress a partner 
in shaping agency goals at the outset. GPRAMA significantly enhances 
requirements for agencies to consult with Congress. 

View [hyperlink,] or key 
components. For more information, contact Bernice Steinhardt at (202) 
512-6543 or 

[End of section] 

Chairmen Akaka and Carper, Ranking Members Johnson and Brown, and 
Members of the Subcommittees: 

Thank you for the opportunity to discuss the Government Performance 
and Results Act (GPRA) Modernization Act of 2010 (GPRAMA)[Footnote 1] 
as the administration begins implementing the act. If effectively 
implemented, the act offers many important opportunities to focus 
attention on successfully improving the effectiveness of government 
programs and operations, and addressing significant fiscal, 
performance, and management challenges facing the federal government. 
[Footnote 2] The federal government is the world's largest and most 
complex entity, with about $3.5 trillion in outlays in fiscal year 
2010 that fund a broad array of programs and operations. Looking 
forward, our long-term simulations of the government's financial 
condition underscore the need to begin addressing the long-term 
federal fiscal outlook. Absent changes in fiscal policy, the 
structural imbalance between spending and revenue paths lead to large 
and growing deficits. The accumulation of large deficits leads to an 
unsustainable increase in debt over the long term.[Footnote 3] This, 
in turn, will limit budget flexibility and the federal government's 
ability to respond to future challenges. 

Addressing these fiscal challenges will require action on several 
fronts. First, all federal programs and activities--discretionary 
programs, mandatory spending, revenues, and tax expenditures--need to 
be reexamined. Second, program structures that are outmoded, 
overlapping, duplicative, fragmented, and not up to the challenges of 
the times must be reformed or restructured. In this regard, we 
recently issued a report that identified over 80 areas of potential 
duplication, overlap, or fragmentation as well as cost savings and 
revenue-enhancing opportunities.[Footnote 4] In addition, weaknesses 
in management capacity, both governmentwide and in individual 
agencies, undermine efficient and effective government. Here too, our 
recent update to our high-risk list identified numerous opportunities 
to reduce costs and improve government performance.[Footnote 5] 

Moving forward, GPRAMA can offer important opportunities to help make 
tough choices in setting priorities as well as reforming programs and 
management practices to better link resources to results. The various 
provisions of the act are to be implemented over the next few years. 
Most of the enhanced planning and reporting requirements at both the 
governmentwide and agency levels are to be implemented in 2012 and 
beyond (see appendix I for a more detailed implementation schedule). 
Thus far, the administration has tasked each agency to assign top 
leadership responsibility for leading their management and performance 
improvement efforts, including quarterly reviews of performance, which 
are to begin no later than this June. Sustained and visible top 
leadership support will be critical to ensuring successful 
implementation of the act's provisions. 

My statement today, which is based on our past and ongoing work, will 
focus on five key areas where implementing GPRAMA could help address 
government challenges. In particular, the act calls for: 

* instituting a more coordinated and crosscutting approach to 
achieving meaningful results, 

* focusing on addressing weaknesses in major management functions, 

* ensuring performance information is both useful and used in decision 

* sustaining leadership commitment and accountability for achieving 
results, and; 

* engaging Congress in identifying management and performance issues 
to address. 

Finally, my statement will speak to GAO's role in evaluating 
implementation of this act. 

Instituting a More Coordinated and Crosscutting Approach to Achieving 
Meaningful Results: 

The federal government faces a series of challenges that in many 
instances are not possible for any single agency to address alone. 
Many federal program efforts, including those related to ensuring food 
safety, providing homeland security, monitoring incidence of 
infectious diseases, or improving response to natural disasters, 
transcend more than one agency. Agencies face a range of challenges 
and barriers when they attempt to work collaboratively. GPRAMA 
establishes a new framework aimed at taking a more crosscutting and 
integrated approach to focusing on results and improving government 
performance. It requires the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), in 
coordination with agencies, to develop--every 4 years--long-term, 
outcome-oriented goals for a limited number of crosscutting policy 
areas. On an annual basis, OMB is to provide information on how these 
long-term crosscutting goals will be achieved. 

Also, we recently reported that a system of key national indicators 
currently under development in the U.S.[Footnote 6] could contribute 
to the implementation of the act's requirements for establishing 
crosscutting goals as well as agency-level goals.[Footnote 7] Such a 
system aims to aggregate essential statistical measures of economic, 
social, and environmental issues to provide reliable information on a 
country's condition, offering a shared frame of reference that enables 
collective accountability. Federal officials could look to measures 
included in a system of key national indicators to highlight areas in 
need of improvement and could use this information to inform the 
selection of future crosscutting and agency-level goals. Also, by 
providing information on economic, social, and environmental 
conditions and trends across the nation, a key indicator system may 
help provide context and a broader perspective for interpreting how 
the federal government's efforts contribute to national outcomes. 

The crosscutting approach required by the act will provide a much 
needed basis for more fully integrating a wide array of federal 
activities as well as a cohesive perspective on the long-term goals of 
the federal government that is focused on priority policy areas. It 
could also be a valuable tool for governmentwide reexamination of 
existing programs and for considering proposals for new programs. 

Our recent report on duplication, overlap, and fragmentation 
highlights a number of areas where a more crosscutting approach is 
needed--both across agencies and within a specific agency. We found 
that duplication and overlap occur because programs have been added 
incrementally over time to respond to new needs and challenges, 
without a strategy to minimize duplication, overlap, and fragmentation 
among them. Also, there are not always interagency mechanisms or 
strategies in place to coordinate programs that address crosscutting 
issues, which can lead to potentially duplicative, overlapping, and 
fragmented efforts. 

Effective GPRAMA implementation could help inform reexamination or 
restructuring efforts related to these and other areas by identifying 
the various agencies and federal activities--including spending 
programs, regulations, and tax expenditures--that contribute to each 
crosscutting goal. These efforts could also be supported by a system 
of key national indicators. For example, to influence positive 
movement in certain indicators, federal officials could look at all 
the programs that contribute to improving outcomes related to those 
indicators, examine how each contributes, and use this information to 
streamline and align the programs to create a more effective and 
efficient approach. 

Examples from our work on duplication, overlap, and fragmentation 

* Teacher quality programs: In fiscal year 2009, the federal 
government spent over $4 billion specifically to improve the quality 
of our nation's 3 million teachers through numerous programs across 
the government.[Footnote 8] Federal efforts to improve teacher quality 
have led to the creation and expansion of a variety of programs across 
the federal government; however, there is no governmentwide strategy 
to minimize fragmentation, overlap, or duplication among these many 
programs. Specifically, we identified 82 distinct programs designed to 
help improve teacher quality, either as a primary purpose or as an 
allowable activity, administered across 10 federal agencies. The 
proliferation of programs has resulted in fragmentation that can 
frustrate agency efforts to administer programs in a comprehensive 
manner, limit the ability to determine which programs are most cost 
effective, and ultimately increase program costs. 

Department of Education (Education) officials believe that federal 
programs have failed to make significant progress in helping states 
close achievement gaps between schools serving students from different 
socioeconomic backgrounds, because in part, federal programs that 
focus on teaching and learning of specific subjects are too fragmented 
to help state and district officials strengthen instruction and 
increase student achievement in a comprehensive manner. Education has 
established working groups to help develop more effective 
collaboration across Education offices, and has reached out to other 
agencies to develop a framework for sharing information on some 
teacher quality activities, but it has noted that coordination efforts 
do not always prove useful and cannot fully eliminate barriers to 
program alignment. 

Congress could help eliminate some of these barriers through 
legislation, particularly through the pending reauthorization of the 
Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 and other key education 
bills. Specifically, to minimize any wasteful fragmentation and 
overlap among teacher quality programs, Congress may choose either to 
eliminate programs that are too small to evaluate cost effectively or 
to combine programs serving similar target groups into a larger 
program. Education has already proposed combining 38 programs into 11 
programs in its reauthorization proposal, which could allow the agency 
to dedicate a higher portion of its administrative resources to 
monitoring programs for results and providing technical assistance. 

* Military health system: The Department of Defense's (DOD) Military 
Health System (MHS) costs have more than doubled from $19 billion in 
fiscal year 2001 to $49 billion in 2010 and are expected to increase 
to over $62 billion by 2015. The responsibilities and authorities for 
the MHS are distributed among several organizations within DOD with no 
central command authority or single entity accountable for minimizing 
costs and achieving efficiencies. Under the MHS's current command 
structure, the Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Health 
Affairs, the Army, the Navy, and the Air Force each has its own 
headquarters and associated support functions. 

DOD has taken limited actions to date to consolidate certain common 
administrative, management, and clinical functions within its MHS. To 
reduce duplication in its command structure and eliminate redundant 
processes that add to growing defense health care costs, DOD could 
take action to further assess alternatives for restructuring the 
governance structure of the military health system. In 2006, if DOD 
and the services had chosen to implement one of the reorganization 
alternatives studied by a DOD working group, a May 2006 report by the 
Center for Naval Analyses showed that DOD could have achieved 
significant savings. Our adjustment of those savings from 2005 into 
2010 dollars indicates those savings could range from $281 million to 
$460 million annually, depending on the alternative chosen and the 
numbers of military, civilian, and contractor positions eliminated. 
The Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness has 
recently established a new position to oversee DOD's military 
healthcare reform efforts. 

* Employment and training programs: In fiscal year 2009, 47 federal 
employment and training programs in nine agencies spent about $18 
billion to provide services, such as job search and job counseling, to 
program participants.[Footnote 9] Most of these programs are 
administered by the Departments of Labor, Education, and Health and 
Human Services (HHS). Forty-four of the 47 programs we identified, 
including those with broader missions such as multipurpose block 
grants, overlap with at least one other program in that they provide 
at least one similar service to a similar population. As we reported 
in January 2011, nearly all 47 programs track multiple outcome 
measures, but only five programs have had an impact study completed 
since 2004 to assess whether outcomes resulted from the program and 
not some other cause. We examined potential duplication among three 
selected large programs--HHS's Temporary Assistance for Needy Families 
(TANF) and the Department of Labor's Employment Service, and Workforce 
Investment Act of 1998 (WIA) Adult programs--and found they provide 
some of the same services to the same population through separate 
administrative structures. 

Colocating services and consolidating administrative structures may 
increase efficiencies and reduce costs, but implementation can be 
challenging. Some states have colocated TANF employment and training 
services in one-stop centers where Employment Service and WIA Adult 
services are provided. An obstacle to further progress in achieving 
greater administrative efficiencies is that little information is 
available about the strategies and results of such initiatives. In 
addition, little is known about the incentives that states and 
localities have to undertake such initiatives and whether additional 
incentives are needed. 

To facilitate further progress by states and localities in increasing 
administrative efficiencies in employment and training programs, we 
recommended in 2011 that the Secretaries of Labor and HHS work 
together to develop and disseminate information that could inform such 
efforts. As part of this effort, Labor and HHS should examine the 
incentives for states and localities to undertake such initiatives 
and, as warranted, identify options for increasing such incentives. 
Labor and HHS agreed they should develop and disseminate this 
information. HHS noted that it does not have the legal authority to 
mandate increased TANF-WIA coordination or create incentives for such 
efforts. As part of its proposed changes to the Workforce Investment 
Act of 1998, the administration proposes consolidating nine programs 
into three. In addition, the budget proposal would transfer the Senior 
Community Service Employment Program from Labor to HHS. Sustained 
oversight by Congress could also help ensure progress is realized. 

Focusing on Addressing Weaknesses in Major Management Functions: 

Although agencies have made progress improving their operations in 
recent years, they need more effective management capabilities to 
better implement new programs and policies. As part of the new 
governmentwide framework created by GPRAMA, OMB is required to develop 
long-term goals to improve management functions across the government. 
The act specifies that these goals should include five areas: 
financial management, human capital management, information technology 
management, procurement and acquisition management, and real property 
management.[Footnote 10] All five of these areas have been identified 
by GAO as key management challenges across the government.[Footnote 11] 

Moreover, some aspects of these areas have warranted our designation 
as high risk, either governmentwide or at certain agencies. For 
example, although significant improvements have been made since we 
initially designated it as high risk in 2001, strategic human capital 
management in the federal government remains high risk because of a 
need to address current and emerging critical skills gaps that are 
undermining agencies' abilities to meet their vital missions. Another 
example is financial management at DOD, which we designated as high 
risk in 1995 due to pervasive financial and related business 
management systems and control deficiencies. 

In addition, a number of the cost-savings or revenue-enhancement 
opportunities we recently identified touch on needed improvements to 
management functions.[Footnote 12] Examples include: 

* Noncompetitive contracts: Federal agencies generally are required to 
award contracts competitively, but a substantial amount of federal 
money is being obligated on noncompetitive contracts annually. Federal 
agencies obligated approximately $170 billion on noncompetitive 
contracts in fiscal year 2009 alone. While there has been some 
fluctuation over the years, the percentage of obligations under 
noncompetitive contracts recently has been in the range of 31 percent 
to over 35 percent. 

Although some agency decisions to forego competition may be justified, 
we found that when federal agencies decide to open their contracts to 
competition, they frequently realize savings. For example, the 
Department of State (State) awarded a noncompetitive contract for 
installation and maintenance of technical security equipment at U.S. 
embassies in 2003. In response to our recommendation, State 
subsequently competed this requirement, and in 2007 it awarded 
contracts to four small businesses for a total savings of over $218 
million. In another case, we found in 2006 that the Army had awarded 
noncompetitive contracts for security guards, but later spent 25 
percent less for the same services when the contracts were competed. 

In July 2009, OMB called for agencies to reduce obligations under new 
contract actions that are awarded using high-risk contracting 
authorities by 10 percent in fiscal year 2010. These high-risk 
contracts include those that are awarded noncompetitively and those 
that are structured as competitive but for which only one offer is 
received. While sufficient data are not yet available to determine 
whether OMB's goal was met, we are currently reviewing the agencies' 
savings plans to identify steps taken toward that goal, and will 
continue to monitor the progress agencies make toward achieving this 
and any subsequent goals set by OMB. 

* Undisbursed grant balances: Past audits of federal agencies by GAO 
and Inspectors General, as well as agencies' annual performance 
reports, have suggested grant management challenges, including failure 
to conduct grant closeouts and undisbursed balances, are a long- 
standing problem. In August 2008, we reported that during calendar 
year 2006, about $1 billion in undisbursed funding remained in expired 
grant accounts in HHS's Payment Management System--the largest 
civilian grant payment system, which multiple agencies use. In August 
2008, we recommended that OMB instruct all executive departments and 
independent agencies to track undisbursed balances in expired grant 
accounts and report on the resolution of this funding in their annual 
performance plan and Performance and Accountability Reports. As of 
April 2011, OMB had not issued guidance to all agencies to track and 
report on such balances. 

* Unneeded real property: Many federal agencies hold real property 
they do not need, including property that is excess or underutilized. 
Excess and underutilized properties present significant potential 
risks to federal agencies because they are costly to maintain. For 
example, in fiscal year 2009, agencies reported underutilized 
buildings accounted for over $1.6 billion in annual operating costs. 
In a June 2010 Presidential Memorandum to federal agencies, the 
administration established a new target of saving $3 billion through 
disposals and other methods by the end of fiscal year 2012; the 
President reiterated this goal in his 2012 budget. However, federal 
agencies continue to face obstacles to disposing of unneeded property, 
such as requirements to offer the property to other federal agencies, 
then to state and local governments and certain nonprofits at no cost. 
If these entities cannot use the property, agencies may also need to 
comply with costly historic preservation or environmental cleanup 
requirements before disposing of the property. Finally, community 
stakeholders may oppose agencies' plans for property disposal. 

OMB could assist agencies in meeting their property disposal target by 
implementing our April 2007 recommendation of developing an action 
plan to address key problems associated with disposing of unneeded 
real property, including reducing the effect of competing stakeholder 
interests on real property decisions. The President's fiscal year 2012 
budget proposed the Civilian Property Realignment Act (CPRA), which 
was recently introduced in the House of Representatives. The act would 
establish a Civilian Property Realignment Board modeled on the Base 
Closure and Realignment Commission. We are engaged in discussions with 
Congress to determine how we can best support Congress, should the act 
become law. 

Ensuring Performance Information Is Both Useful and Used in Decision 

Agencies need to consider the differing information needs of various 
users--such as agency top leadership and line managers, OMB, and 
Congress--to ensure that performance information will be both useful 
and used in decision making. We have previously reported that to be 
useful, performance information must meet diverse users' needs for 
completeness, accuracy, validity, timeliness, and ease of use. GPRAMA 
puts into place several requirements that could address these needs. 

* Completeness: Agencies often lack information on the effectiveness 
of programs; such information could help decision makers prioritize 
resources among programs. Our work on overlap and duplication has 
found crosscutting areas where performance information is limited or 
does not exist. For example, not enough is known about the 
effectiveness of many domestic food assistance programs--an area where 
three federal agencies administer 18 programs, covering more than 
$62.5 billion in spending in fiscal year 2008. Research suggests that 
participation in 7 of the 18 programs--including the Special 
Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC), 
the National School Lunch Program, the School Breakfast Program, and 
SNAP--is associated with positive health and nutrition outcomes 
consistent with programs' goals, such as raising the level of 
nutrition among low-income households, safeguarding the health and 
well-being of the nation's children, and strengthening the 
agricultural economy. Yet little is known about the effectiveness of 
the remaining 11 programs because they have not been well studied. In 
another area, economic development, where four agencies administer 80 
programs, a lack of information on program outcomes is a current and 
long-standing problem. In shedding light on these and other areas, the 
new crosscutting planning and reporting requirements could lead to the 
development of performance information in areas that are currently 

* Accuracy and validity: Agencies are required to disclose more 
information about the accuracy and validity of their performance 
information in their performance plans and reports, including the 
sources for their data and actions to address limitations to the data. 

* Timeliness and ease of use: While agencies will continue to report 
annually on progress towards the rest of their goals, GPRAMA requires 
reporting for governmentwide and agency priority goals on a quarterly 
basis. By also requiring information to be posted on a governmentwide 
Web site, the act will make performance information more accessible 
and easy to use by stakeholders and the public, thus fostering 
transparency and civic engagement. 

In addition, to help ensure that performance information is used--not 
simply collected and reported as a compliance exercise--GPRAMA 
requires top leadership and program officials to be involved in 
quarterly reviews of priority goals. During these sessions, they are 
expected to review the progress achieved toward goals; assess the 
contributions of underlying federal organizations, programs, and 
activities; categorize goals by their risk of not being achieved; and 
develop strategies to improve performance. 

To be successful, these officials must have the knowledge and 
experience necessary to use and trust the information they are 
gathering. Building analytical capacity to use performance information 
and to ensure its quality--both in terms of staff trained to do the 
analysis and availability of research and evaluation resources--is 
critical to using performance information in a meaningful fashion and 
will play a large role in the success of government performance 
improvements. Federal officials must understand how the performance 
information they gather can be used to provide insight into the 
factors that impede or contribute to program successes; assess the 
effect of the program; or help explain the linkages between program 
inputs, activities, outputs, and outcomes. 

Our periodic surveys of federal managers on government performance and 
management issues have found a positive relationship between agencies 
providing training and development on setting program performance 
goals and the use of performance information when setting or revising 
performance goals.[Footnote 13] These surveys have also found a 
significant increase in training between our initial survey in 1997 
and our most recent one in 2007.[Footnote 14] However, only about half 
of our survey respondents in 2007 reported receiving any training that 
would assist in strategic planning and performance assessment. We 
previously recommended that OMB ensure that agencies are making 
adequate investments in training on performance planning and 
measurement, with a particular emphasis on how to use performance 
information to improve program performance.[Footnote 15] Consistent 
with this, according to the President's Fiscal Year 2012 Budget, in 
the coming year OMB and the Performance Improvement Council intend to 
help agencies strengthen their employees' skills in analyzing and 
using performance information to achieve greater results.[Footnote 16] 

To further develop this capacity, within 1 year of enactment, GPRAMA 
requires the Office of Personnel Management (OPM), in consultation 
with the Performance Improvement Council, to identify the key skills 
and competencies needed by federal employees to carry out a variety of 
performance management activities including developing goals, 
evaluating programs, and analyzing and using performance information. 
Once those key skills and competencies are identified, OPM is then 
required to incorporate those skills and competencies into relevant 
position classifications and agency training no later than 2 years 
after enactment. 

Sustaining Leadership Commitment and Accountability for Achieving 

Perhaps the single most important element of successful management 
improvement initiatives is the demonstrated commitment of top leaders. 
This commitment is most prominently shown through the personal 
involvement of top leaders in developing and directing reform efforts. 
Organizations that successfully address their long-standing management 
weaknesses do not "staff out" responsibility for leading change. Top 
leadership involvement and clear lines of accountability for making 
management improvements are critical to overcoming organizations' 
natural resistance to change, marshaling the resources needed in many 
cases to improve management, and building and maintaining the 
organizationwide commitment to new ways of doing business. 

GPRAMA creates several new leadership structures and responsibilities 
aimed at sustaining attention on improvement efforts at both the 
agency and governmentwide levels. The act designates the deputy head 
of each agency as Chief Operating Officer (COO), with overall 
responsibilities for improving the management and performance of the 
agency. In addition, the act requires each agency to designate a 
senior executive as Performance Improvement Officer (PIO) to support 
the COO. The act also establishes a Performance Improvement Council--
chaired by the OMB Deputy Director for Management and composed of PIOs 
from various agencies--to assist the Director of OMB in carrying out 
the governmentwide planning and reporting requirements. 

GPRAMA also creates individual and organizational accountability 
provisions that have the potential to keep attention focused on 
achieving results. For each governmentwide performance goal, a lead 
government official is to be designated and held responsible for 
coordinating efforts to achieve the goal. Similarly, at the agency 
level, for each performance goal, an agency official, known as a goal 
leader, will be responsible for achieving the goal. To promote overall 
organizational accountability, the act requires OMB to report each 
year on unmet agency goals. Where a goal has been unmet for 3 years, 
OMB can identify the program for termination or restructuring, among 
other actions. 

Engaging Congress in Identifying Management and Performance Issues to 

In order for performance improvement initiatives to be useful to 
Congress for its decision making, garnering congressional buy-in on 
what to measure and how to present this information is critical. In 
past reviews, we have noted the importance of considering Congress a 
partner in shaping agency goals at the outset. Congressional committee 
staff, in discussing the Program Assessment Review Tool (PART) 
[Footnote 17] developed by the previous administration, told us that 
communicating the PART assessment results was not a replacement for 
the benefit of early consultation between Congress and OMB about what 
they consider to be the most important performance issues and program 
areas warranting review.[Footnote 18] 

While GPRA called for agencies to consult with Congress on their 
strategic plans, the act did not provide detailed or specific 
requirements on the consultation process or how agencies were to treat 
information obtained. GPRAMA significantly enhances requirements for 
agencies to consult with Congress when establishing or adjusting 
governmentwide and agency goals. OMB and agencies are to consult with 
relevant committees, obtaining majority and minority views, about 
proposed goals at least once every 2 years. In addition, OMB and 
agencies are to describe on the governmentwide Web site or in their 
strategic plans, respectively, how they incorporated congressional 
input into their goals. 

Beyond this opportunity to provide input to OMB and agencies as they 
shape their plans, Congress can also play a decisive role in fostering 
results-oriented cultures in the federal government by using 
information on agency goals and results as it carries out its 
legislative responsibilities. For example, authorizing, 
appropriations, and oversight committees could schedule hearings to 
determine if agency programs have clear performance goals, measures, 
and data with which to track progress and whether the programs are 
achieving their goals. Where goals and objectives are unclear or not 
results oriented, Congress could articulate the program outcomes it 
expects agencies to achieve. This would provide important guidance to 
agencies that could then be incorporated in agency strategic and 
annual performance plans. Most important, congressional use of agency 
goals and measured results in its decision making will send an 
unmistakable message to agencies that Congress considers agency 
performance a priority. 

Over the years, the Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental 
Affairs and its predecessors have done commendable work focusing 
attention on improving government management and performance--by 
reporting out legislation, such as the original GPRA and GPRAMA, and 
through hearings, such as this one. Moving forward, congressional 
oversight and sustained attention by top administration officials will 
be essential to ensure further improvement in the performance of 
federal programs and operations. In fact, as we noted in our recent 
high-risk issues report, these two factors were absolutely critical to 
making the progress necessary for the DOD Personnel Security Clearance 
Program and the 2010 Census to be removed from our high-risk 
list.[Footnote 19] 

GAO's Role in Evaluating GPRAMA, High Risks, and Other Major 
Government Challenges: 

Realizing the promise of GPRAMA for improving government performance 
and accountability and reducing waste will require sustained oversight 
of implementation. GAO played a major role in evaluating the 
implementation of the original GPRA's strategic and annual performance 
planning requirements including various pilot provisions. For example, 
by evaluating agency plans during a pilot phase, we were able to offer 
numerous recommendations for improvement that led to more effective 
final plans.[Footnote 20] We further supported implementation by 
reporting on leading management practices that agencies should employ 
as they implemented GPRA.[Footnote 21] It is worth noting that much of 
our work on government performance has been conducted at the request 
of the Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs and 
your two subcommittees, showing a sustained commitment to ensure GPRA 
was effectively implemented. 

Similarly, GPRAMA includes provisions requiring GAO to review 
implementation of the act at several critical junctures, and provide 
recommendations for improvements to implementation of the act. First, 
following a period of initial implementation, by June 2013, GAO is to 
report on implementation of the act's planning and reporting 
requirements--at both the governmentwide and agency levels. 
Subsequently, following full implementation, by September 2015 and 
2017, GAO is to evaluate whether performance management is being used 
by federal agencies to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of 
agency programs. Also in September 2015 and 2017--and every 4 years 
thereafter--GAO is to evaluate the implementation of the federal 
government priority goals and performance plans, and related reporting 
required by the act. 

Looking ahead, a number of other required recurrent reports will help 
to inform Congress about government management and performance. For 
example, GAO has an ongoing statutory requirement to report each year 
on federal programs, agencies, offices, and initiatives, either within 
departments or governmentwide, which have duplicative goals or 
activities.[Footnote 22] In addition, each year GAO reports on its 
audit of the consolidated financial statements of the U.S. government 
[Footnote 23] and the condition of federal financial management 
systems.[Footnote 24] GAO continues to report periodically to Congress 
on the adequacy and effectiveness of agencies' information security 
policies and practices and other requirements of the Federal 
Information Security Management Act of 2002.[Footnote 25] 

Additionally, the Presidential Transition Act of 2000[Footnote 26] 
identifies GAO as a source of briefings and other materials to help 
inform presidential appointees of the major management issues, risks, 
and challenges they will face. During the last presidential 
transition, we identified for Congress and the new administration 
urgent issues and key program and management challenges in the major 
departments and across government. Finally, GAO reports to each new 
Congress on government operations that it identifies as high risk due 
to their greater vulnerabilities to fraud, waste, abuse, and 
mismanagement or the need for broad-based transformation to address 
economy, efficiency, or effectiveness challenges. 

In conclusion, everything must be on the table as we address the 
federal long-term fiscal challenge. While the long-term outlook is 
driven on the spending side of the budget by rising health care costs 
and demographics, other areas of the budget should not be exempt from 
scrutiny. All areas should be reexamined in light of the contributions 
they make to achieving outcomes for the American public. If programs 
are overlapping, fragmented, or duplicative, they must be streamlined. 
Programs and management functions at significant risk of waste, fraud, 
and abuse must be corrected. GPRAMA provides the administration and 
Congress with new tools to identify strategies that are achieving 
results as well as those that are ineffective, duplicative, or 
wasteful that could be eliminated. GAO stands ready to help Congress 
ensure that the act's promises are met. 

Thank you, Chairmen Akaka and Carper, Ranking Members Johnson and 
Brown, and Members of the Subcommittees. This concludes my prepared 
statement. I would be pleased to answer any questions you may have. 


For further information on this testimony, please contact Bernice 
Steinhardt, Director, Strategic Issues, at (202) 512-6543 or Key contributions to this testimony were made by 
Elizabeth Curda (Assistant Director), and Benjamin T. Licht. Contact 
points for our Congressional Relations and Public Affairs offices may 
be found on the last page of this statement. 

[End of section] 

Appendix I: GPRA Modernization Act of 2010 Implementation: 

Table 1: Implementation of Selected Requirements Provided in the GPRA 
Modernization Act of 2010: 

Key Date: June 30, 2011; 
Implementation Requirement: Agency quarterly priority progress 
reviews, consistent with the requirements of the act, begin for the 
goals contained in the Fiscal Year 2011 Budget of the United States 

Key Date: February 6, 2012; 
Implementation Requirement: OMB publishes interim federal government 
priority goals and prepares and submits a federal government 
performance plan consistent with the requirements of the act. 
Agencies adjust their current strategic plans, prepare and submit 
performance plans, and identify new or update existing agency priority 
goals to make them consistent with the requirements of the act. 

Key Date: No later than February 27, 2012; 
Implementation Requirement: Agencies make performance reporting 
updates on their fiscal year 2011 performance consistent with the 
requirements of the act. 

Key Date: June 30, 2012; 
Implementation Requirement: OMB begins federal government quarterly 
priority progress reviews. 

Key Date: No later than October 1, 2012; 
Implementation Requirement: OMB launches a single governmentwide 
performance website. 

Key Date: February 3, 2014; 
Implementation Requirement: Full implementation of the act with a new 
strategic planning cycle. 

Source: GAO analysis of the GPRA Modernization Act of 2010, Pub. L. 
No. 111-352, 124 Stat. 3866 (2011), and its accompanying committee 
report, S. Rept. 111-372. 

[End of table] 

[End of section] 


[1] Pub. L. No. 111-352, 124 Stat. 3866 (2011). GPRAMA amends the 
Government Performance and Results Act of 1993, Pub. L. No. 103-62, 
107 Stat. 285 (1993). 

[2] GAO, Government Performance: GPRA Modernization Act Provides 
Opportunities to Help Address Fiscal, Performance, and Management 
Challenges, [hyperlink,] 
(Washington, D.C.: Mar. 16, 2011). 

[3] GAO, The Federal Government's Long-Term Fiscal Outlook: January 
2011 Update, [hyperlink,] 
(Washington, D.C.: Mar. 17, 2010). GAO updates these simulations twice 
each year. Updates and additional information on the federal fiscal 
outlook, federal debt, and the outlook for state and local government 
sector is available at: [hyperlink,]. 

[4] GAO, Opportunities to Reduce Potential Duplication in Government 
Programs, Save Tax Dollars, and Enhance Revenue, GAO-11-318SP 
(Washington, D.C.: Mar. 1, 2011). An interactive, Web-based version of 
the report is available at: [hyperlink,]. 

[5] GAO, High-Risk Series: An Update, [hyperlink,[ (Washington, D.C.: February 
2011). Additional information available on GAO's High-Risk and Other 
Major Government Challenges Web site, [hyperlink,]. 

[6] The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act established a 
Commission on Key National Indicators that will enter into an 
arrangement with the National Academy of Sciences to establish a U.S. 
key national indicator system. Pub. L. No. 111-148, § 5605, 124 Stat. 
119, 680-684 (2010). 

[7] GAO, Key Indicator Systems: Experiences of Other National and 
Subnational Systems Offer Insights for the United States, [hyperlink,] (Washington, D.C.: Mar. 31, 

[8] GAO, Opportunities to Reduce Potential Duplication in Federal 
Teacher Quality Programs, [hyperlink,] (Washington, D.C.: Apr. 13, 

[9] GAO, Employment and Training Programs: Opportunities Exist for 
Improving Efficiency, [hyperlink,] (Washington: D.C.: Apr. 7, 

[10] 31 U.S.C. § 1120(a)(1)(B). 

[11] More information on our work related to challenges in these five 
management functions is available at]. 

[12] [hyperlink,]. 

[13] GAO, Results-Oriented Government: GPRA Has Established a Solid 
Foundation for Achieving Greater Results, [hyperlink,] (Washington, D.C.: Mar. 10, 

[14] GAO, Government Performance: Lessons Learned for the Next 
Administration on Using Performance Information to Improve Results, 
[hyperlink,] (Washington, 
D.C.: July 24, 2008). 

[15] [hyperlink,]. 

[16] OMB, Analytical Perspectives, Budget of the United States 
Government, Fiscal Year 2012, p. 79. 

[17] OMB described PART, which was created in 2002, as a diagnostic 
tool meant to provide a consistent approach to evaluating federal 
programs as part of the executive budget formulation process. 

[18] GAO, Performance Budgeting: PART Focuses Attention on Program 
Performance, but More Can Be Done to Engage Congress, [hyperlink,] (Washington, D.C.: Oct. 28, 

[19] [hyperlink,]. 

[20] See for example, GAO, Managing for Results: Critical Issues for 
Improving Federal Agencies' Strategic Plans, [hyperlink,] (Washington, D.C.: 
Sept.16, 1997) and Managing for Results: An Agenda to Improve the 
Usefulness of Agencies' Annual Performance Plans, [hyperlink,] (Washington, D.C.: 
Sept. 8, 1998). 

[21] See for example, GAO, Executive Guide: Effectively Implementing 
the Government Performance and Results Act, [hyperlink,] (Washington, D.C.: June 

[22] Pub. L. No. 111-139, § 21, 124 Stat. 8, 29 (2010), 31 U.S.C. § 
712 note. 

[23] 31 U.S.C. § 331(e)(2). 

[24] 31 U.S.C. § 3512 note. 

[25] E-Government Act of 2002, Pub. L. No. 107-347, Title III, 116 
Stat. 2899, 2946 (2002). 

[26] Pub. L. No. 106-293, §2(3), 114 Stat. 1035 (2000). 

[End of section] 

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