Managing for Results:

GAO's Work Related to the Interim Crosscutting Priority Goals under the GPRA Modernization Act

GAO-12-620R: Published: May 31, 2012. Publicly Released: May 31, 2012.

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J. Christopher Mihm
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What GAO Found

The act requires that OMB develop federal government priority goals (crosscutting goals) and a federal government performance plan, which is to be updated annually and released concurrently with the President’s budget. Specifically, it requires OMB, starting with the 2015 budget and in coordination with agencies and in consultation with the Congress, to develop—every 4 years—long-term, outcome-oriented goals for a limited number of crosscutting policy areas and goals for management improvement areas, including: financial management; human capital management; information technology management; procurement and acquisition management; and real property management. The goals are to be updated or revised every 4 years. In addition, OMB is required to develop interim priority goals, starting with the 2013 budget. OMB is also required to provide information on how these federal government priority goals will be achieved in a federal government performance plan.

The President’s 2013 budget submission includes the federal government’s 14 interim crosscutting priority goals. Of these goals, 9 are related to crosscutting policy areas, and 5 are management improvement goals. These goals cover the following areas

  • science, technology, engineering, and math education;

  • veteran career readiness;

  • broadband;

  • entrepreneurship and small businesses;

  • energy efficiency;

  • exports;

  • job training;

  • cybersecurity;

  • sustainability;

  • financial management—improper payments;

  • human capital management—critical skills gaps;

  • information technology management—data center consolidation;

  • procurement and acquisition management—strategic sourcing; and

  • real property management.

As required by the act, OMB has identified a goal leader for each of the crosscutting priority goals in the federal government performance plan. These goal leaders are responsible for coordinating efforts to achieve each of the goals.

Our prior work provides insights into federal agencies’ efforts related to the 14 interim crosscutting priority goals.

The act also requires that the federal government performance plan include the agencies, organizations, program activities, regulations, tax expenditures, policies, and other activities contributing to each crosscutting priority goal. Accordingly, the performance plan includes this information for each of the interim goals. The performance plan notes that additional programs with the potential to contribute to each of the goals may be identified over time. In that regard, our prior work has identified additional relevant departments, agencies and programs for 10 of the 14 interim goals.

A detailed discussion of additional relevant departments, agencies and programs for each priority goal based on our work is included in this report.

Why GAO Did This Study

Many of the meaningful results that the federal government seeks to achieve—such as those related to protecting food and agriculture, providing homeland security, and ensuring a well-trained and educated workforce—require the coordinated efforts of more than one federal agency and often more than one sector and level of government. Both Congress and the executive branch have recognized the need for improved collaboration across the federal government. Accordingly, in January 2011 the almost two-decades-old Government Performance and Results Act of 1993 (GPRA) was updated with the GPRA Modernization Act of 2010 (GPRAMA or the act). The act establishes a new framework aimed at taking a more crosscutting and integrated approach to focusing on results and improving government performance. Effective implementation of the act could play an important role in clarifying desired outcomes, addressing program performance that spans multiple organizations, and facilitating future actions to reduce unnecessary duplication, overlap, and fragmentation. Among other things, the act requires the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) to coordinate with agencies to establish outcome-oriented federal government priority goals—otherwise referred to as crosscutting goals—covering a limited number of policy areas as well as goals to improve management across the federal government. It also requires that OMB—with the agencies—develop a federal government performance plan that defines the level of performance to be achieved toward the crosscutting goals.

This report is part of our mandate that we assess implementation of the act. Our specific objective for this report was to comment on the federal government’s interim crosscutting priority goals provided in the President’s 2013 budget submission based on our prior work—and selected ongoing work—and identify our relevant open recommendations and matters for congressional consideration.

What GAO Recommends

We recommend that the Director of the Office of Management and Budget, in considering additional programs with the potential to contribute to the crosscutting goals, review the additional departments, agencies, and programs that we have identified, and consider including them in the federal government’s performance plan, as appropriate.

For more information, contact J. Christopher Mihm at at (202) 512-6806 or

Recommendation for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: As we reported in June 2013 on the initial implementation of the GPRA Modernization Act of 2010 (GAO-13-518), in December 2012, and again in May 2013, OMB updated information on on the cross-agency priority goals. In these updates, OMB added some of the departments, agencies, and programs that we recommended in our report. For example, we had noted that 12 member agencies of the Trade Promotion Coordination Committee had not been identified as contributors to the Export Cross Agency Priority Goal, which aims to double U.S. exports by the end of 2014. This information was added to in its December 2012 update.

    Recommendation: The Director of the Office of Management and Budget, in considering additional programs with the potential to contribute to the crosscutting goals, should review the additional departments, agencies, and programs that we have identified, and consider including them in the federal government's performance plan, as appropriate.

    Agency Affected: Executive Office of the President: Office of Management and Budget


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