Managing for Results: Opportunities for Congress to Address Government Performance Issues

GAO-12-215R Published: Dec 09, 2011. Publicly Released: Dec 09, 2011.
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Many federal program efforts, such as those related to ensuring food safety, providing homeland security, monitoring incidence of infectious diseases, or improving response to natural disasters, generally require the effective collaboration of more than one agency. As we have recently testified before each of Congressional subcommittees and the task force, the Government Performance and Results Act (GPRA) Modernization Act of 2010 (GPRAMA) calls for a more coordinated and crosscutting approach to achieve meaningful results. Indeed, we have noted for many years the central role that GPRA could play in identifying and fostering improved coordination across related federal program efforts. Effective GPRAMA implementation provides opportunities to identify the various agencies and federal activities--including spending programs, regulations, and tax expenditures--that contribute to crosscutting programs and to ensure that coordination mechanisms are in place. Our recent report on potential duplication, overlap, and fragmentation highlights a number of areas where a more crosscutting approach is needed--both across agencies and within a specific agency. GPRAMA provides a powerful opportunity for agencies to collect and report more timely and useful performance information on crosscutting programs. This performance information can play an important role in existing congressional decision making. Recognizing this, Congress requested that we undertake work to support congressional use of performance information. As a first step, we developed briefing materials focused on how Congress can use such information to address challenges facing the federal government. This report formally transmits the information shared during a briefing we gave on September 8, 2011, to congressional staff. The objectives of the briefing were to (1) describe provisions of GPRAMA that provide Congress with opportunities for involvement in agency performance planning and (2) illustrate instances of Congress's use of agency performance information in its decision making.

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