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Government Performance Management: Key Considerations for Implementing Cross-Agency Priority Goals and Progress Addressing GAO Recommendations

GAO-21-104704 Published: Sep 28, 2021. Publicly Released: Sep 28, 2021.
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Fast Facts

The Government Performance and Results Act Modernization Act of 2010 aimed to improve the performance of the federal government. For example, it required the Office of Management and Budget to coordinate with agencies to develop goals that can be accomplished in 4 years and bring improvements across different agencies. For example, one current goal is to modernize the infrastructure permitting process.

OMB and agencies have made progress on 82 of our 106 related recommendations. They should fully address the remaining 24 recommendations—e.g., making federal performance information more comprehensive for decisionmakers and the public.

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What GAO Found

The enactment of the GPRA Modernization Act of 2010 (GPRAMA) aimed to create an integrated, crosscutting federal performance planning and reporting framework. The act requires the establishment of 4-year outcome-oriented goals known as cross-agency priority (CAP) goals. CAP goals cover a limited number of mission and management areas, such as improving customer experiences with federal services. The next set of CAP goals is due no later than February 2022.

GAO identified key considerations to facilitate CAP goal implementation, for example:

Establish the goal: Establish a balanced set of outcome-oriented mission and management-focused goals that reflect the government's highest policy priorities.

Identify goal leaders and contributors: Identify co-leaders and sub-goal leaders to facilitate leadership, continuity, and agency buy-in.

Identify resources to support implementation: Dedicate resources to goal implementation, including funding, staffing, and technology.

Use performance information: Focus on improving the quality and use of data to routinely assess goal progress and a shared commitment to continuous improvement.

Report results: Develop communications strategies to help share success stories and outcomes of the goals.

The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) and agencies have made notable progress in implementing 82 of 106 GAO GPRAMA-related recommendations made since 2012 (see figure).

Status of GAO Recommendations Related to Implementation of the GPRA Modernization Act of 2010, from Fiscal Year 2012-2021 as of July 2021

Status of GAO Recommendations Related to Implementation of the GPRA Modernization Act of 2010, from Fiscal Year 2012-2021 as of July 2021

For example, OMB issued guidance to agencies to expand the use of data-driven performance reviews, and agencies took steps to report on the quality of their performance information. However, OMB and agencies have not fully implemented 24 GAO recommendations in areas such as creating an inventory of federal programs and improving the transparency of publicly reported performance information. Implementing remaining recommendations would help OMB and agencies more effectively manage performance.

Why GAO Did This Study

The nation faces unprecedented challenges that require the federal government to perform better, be more responsive to the American people, and achieve greater results. GPRAMA provides important tools that can help decision makers address crosscutting challenges facing the federal government.

GPRAMA includes a provision for GAO to periodically report on the act's implementation. This report (1) identifies key considerations that can facilitate CAP goal implementation; and (2) assesses OMB's and agencies' progress in addressing GAO recommendations related to GPRAMA. To identify key considerations, GAO conducted focus groups with subject matter specialists with expertise in performance management and with White House Leadership Development fellows who had a role in implementing CAP goals. GAO also obtained views from OMB staff and reviewed information on OMB's role in CAP goal implementation. GAO also reviewed prior work on GPRAMA implementation. To identify progress made to address GAO recommendations, GAO reviewed actions OMB and agencies took since 2012.


GAO has made 106 recommendations related to GPRAMA implementation, of which 24 have yet to be fully implemented. GAO believes OMB and the agencies should fully address the remaining recommendations. OMB stated that it had no comments on the report.

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