Managing for Results:

Answers to Hearing Questions on Quality Management

GGD-99-181R: Published: Sep 10, 1999. Publicly Released: Sep 10, 1999.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO provided information on quality management in the federal government, focusing on: (1) whether a vigorous quality management program should be implemented in addition to the strategic planning framework mandated by the Government Performance and Results Act; (2) whether the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) has the necessary resources and institutional knowledge to implement a quality management initiative; (3) whether the National Partnership for Reinventing Government (NPR) initiative should be located in an agency like OMB; (4) whether there were other quality management programs that were initiated by previous administrations; (5) how information in agency strategic plans, annual performance plans, and performance reports can be used to identify and facilitate improvements in the quality processes; (6) whether agencies can successfully integrate total quality management and the Results Act to address management problems; (7) how Congress can best use agencies' strategic and performance plans to identify the degree to which agencies have implemented quality management; and (8) how the Results Act provides for employee involvement.

GAO noted that: (1) GAO's work concerning high-performing organizations provides useful insight; (2) leaders in successful organizations integrate the implementation of separate organizational improvement efforts; (3) regardless of whether these reforms are self-initiated or mandated by legislation, agency top leadership needs to meld these various reforms into a coherent, unified effort; (4) there are serious questions about whether OMB would have the institutional knowledge and resources needed to implement a quality management initiative; (5) historically, OMB has been reluctant to become heavily involved in some management initiatives because of the small size of its staff and its view that federal agencies themselves are responsible and accountable for making management improvements; (6) prior to NPR, previous administrations undertook a series of related quality management efforts; (7) in February 1986, President Reagan issued an Executive Order that formally established a governmentwide effort to improve the productivity, quality, and timeliness of government products and services; (8) the President's Quality Award Program, begun in 1988, has given awards to federal government organizations for: (a) improving their overall performance and capabilities; and (b) demonstrating a sustained trend in providing high-quality products and services that results in the effective use of taxpayer-dollars; (9) the information in agency strategic plans, annual performance plans, and performance reports can be an important tool to identify and facilitate improvements in quality processes; (10) no serious effort to fundamentally improve the performance of federal agencies can succeed without addressing long-standing management challenges and program risks; (11) GAO noted that it has long advocated that congressional committees of jurisdiction hold augmented oversight hearings on each of the major agencies; (12) information on missions, goals, strategies, resources, and results could provide a consistent starting point for each of these hearings; and (13) the Results Act does not have a specific requirement for employee involvement, other than to identify the development of strategic and annual performance plans and performance reports as inherently governmental functions that must only be done by federal employees.

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