Performance Measurement and Evaluation:

Definitions and Relationships (Superseded by GAO-11-646SP)

GAO-05-739SP: Published: May 2, 2005. Publicly Released: May 2, 2005.

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Nancy R. Kingsbury
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This publication is superceded by GAO-11-646SP, Performance Measurement and Evaluation: Definitions and Relationships, May 2011. Both the executive branch and congressional committees need evaluative information to help them make decisions about the programs they oversee--information that tells them whether, and in what important ways, a program is working well or poorly, and why. In enacting the Government Performance and Results Act of 1993 (GPRA), Congress expressed frustration that executive branch and congressional decisionmaking was often hampered by the lack of good information on the results of federal program efforts. Seeking to promote improved federal management and the increased efficiency and effectiveness of federal programs, GPRA instituted a governmentwide requirement for agencies to set goals and report annually on program performance. Many analytic approaches have been employed over the years by the agencies and others to assess the operations and results of federal programs, policies, activities, and organizations. Periodically, individual evaluation studies are designed to answer specific questions about how well a program is working, and thus such studies may take several forms. GPRA explicitly recognizes and encourages a complementary role for these types of program assessment: annual performance reports are to include both performance measurement results and program evaluation findings. Both performance measures and program evaluation play key roles in the Program Assessment Rating Tool that the Office of Management and Budget introduced in 2002 to examine federal programs in the budget formulation process. This glossary describes and explains the relationship between two common types of systematic program assessments: performance measures and program evaluations. It is based on GAO publications and program evaluation literature and was first prepared in 1998.

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