Management Reform:

Continuing Attention Is Needed to Improve Government Performance

T-GGD-00-128: Published: May 4, 2000. Publicly Released: May 4, 2000.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO discussed the management reform efforts conducted by the National Partnership for Reinventing Government, formerly known as the National Performance Review (NPR).

GAO noted that: (1) NPR has been one of the longest sustained and most well-known executive branch reform initiatives in the nation's history; (2) however, NPR's efforts were not undertaken in isolation from other management reforms; (3) indeed, reflecting the widespread interest in reforming government to improve effectiveness and service quality while limiting costs, Congress, the administration, and federal agencies have all undertaken ambitious and largely consistent reforms in the last decade; (4) NPR attempted to build upon prior management reforms and operated in an atmosphere where other factors, such as agencies' ongoing efforts as well as the political environment, also influenced actions taken to address NPR's recommendations; (5) at the same time, Congress has put in place a statutory framework intended to improve federal program effectiveness and public accountability by instilling a performance-based approach into the management of federal agencies; (6) Congress has also taken legislative action consistent with selected NPR recommendations and initiated other improvements targeted to individual agencies; (7) in recent years, GAO has examined aspects of NPR's reform efforts and found that NPR claimed savings from agency-specific recommendations that could not be fully attributed to its efforts; (8) GAO also found in its examinations of selected management reform efforts that have been emphasized by NPR, that: (a) agencies' downsizing has short- and long-term implications that require continuing attention; (b) better communication could help disseminate methods used by NPR reinvention laboratories to improve performance; (c) despite recent reforms, the federal government still does not have a world-class purchasing system; and (d) regulatory reforms have yielded mixed results; (9) the results of GAO's reviews underscore the work that still lies ahead in reforming federal management; (10) the next Congress and administration will face a series of long-standing management problems that will continue to demand attention if the efficiency and effectiveness of the federal government is to be fundamentally improved; and (11) a few of the more important management problems that will confront the next Congress and administration include: (a) adopting an effective results orientation; (b) coordinating crosscutting programs; (c) addressing high-risk federal functions and programs; (d) developing and implementing modern human capital practices; (e) strengthening financial management; and (f) enhancing computer security.

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