This report updates GAO's previous assessments of agencies' experiences in linking performance plans and budgets under the Government Performance and Results Act of 1993 (GPRA). GAO has also included in this report an initial assessment of the approaches used by agencies to link performance plans with their audited annual financial statements. Over the first four years of agency efforts to implement GPRA, GAO observed that agencies continue to tighten the required linkage between their performance plans and budget requests. Of the agencies GAO reviewed over this period, all but three met the basic requirement of the act to define a linkage between their performance plans and the program activities in their budget requests, and most of the agencies in GAO's review had moved beyond this basic requirement to indicate some level of funding associated with expected performance described in the plan. More importantly, more agencies each year--almost 75 percent in fiscal year 2002 compared to 40 percent in fiscal year 1999--were able to show a direct link between expected performance and requested program activity funding levels--the first step in defining the performance consequences of budgetary decisions. However, GAO has also observed that the nature of these linkages varies considerably. Most of the agencies in GAO's review associated funding requests with higher, more general levels of expected performance, rather than the more detailed "performance goals or sets of performance goals" suggested in the Office of Management and Budget guidance. Similarly, agencies' initial efforts to link performance plans to their statements of net cost are encouraging and improving, but some presentations were more informative than others. However, various approaches were used to present this information, ranging from broad linkages of overall agency costs to general goals to more specific descriptions of component organization costs by strategic objective.
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