The Office of Management and Budget must develop cross-agency priority goals to guide agency collaboration on the government's big challenges, like financial management. These 4-year goals are part of the President's Management Agenda.
We found that the current goals could be more:
- Complete—OMB set goals for 3 of 5 required management areas, with no goals for managing IT or federal real property
- Timely—OMB publicly set the goals in August 2022, despite a March deadline
- Transparent—Inconsistent quarterly reporting makes it difficult for Congress and the public to gauge goal achievement
We recommended that OMB address these concerns.
What GAO Found
The President's Management Agenda (PMA), which is typically released by each administration, serves to communicate and organize cross-agency priority (CAP) goals required under the GPRA Modernization Act of 2010 (GPRAMA). CAP goals are 4-year outcome-oriented goals covering a number of mission and management areas across the federal government. This administration's PMA, which was released in November 2021, consists of three priority areas: (1) strengthening the federal workforce, (2) improving the federal customer experience, and (3) managing federal financial management and procurement. Under these three priority areas, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) designated seven related strategies as CAP goals in August 2022.
Timeline of the President's Management Agenda and Cross-Agency Priority Goal Activities, 2021-2023
GAO found that the administration's designated CAP goals do not address all relevant GPRAMA requirements, and related guidance and practices. OMB designated CAP goals for three of the five management areas required by GPRAMA: financial management, human capital management, and procurement and acquisition management. However, as of March 2023, OMB had not designated CAP goals addressing the other two areas: information technology management and federal real property management. These areas are long-standing management challenges facing the federal government.
OMB designated the current CAP goals in August 2022. This designation came several months after the statutory deadline of submitting CAP goals concurrent with the submission of the President's budget in March 2022. Timely release of the CAP goals can help improve congressional oversight and provide important information on program performance.
GAO also found that OMB did not consistently report quarterly progress toward achieving CAP goals as required by GPRAMA. More consistent public reporting could provide greater transparency and allow for reporting on final progress achieved at the end of a goal period. Such final reporting would help ensure continuity between CAP goal cycles. This reporting would also provide information on progress toward addressing long-standing federal management challenges and high-risk areas.
Why GAO Did This Study
The federal government faces critical challenges that require effective management and collaboration among federal agencies. The performance planning and reporting framework under GPRAMA provides important tools, such as CAP goals, that can help decision makers address these challenges. The PMA identifies an administration's key management priorities. It also provides a framework for implementing the CAP goals.
GPRAMA includes a provision for GAO to periodically report on the act's implementation. This report (1) describes how OMB has begun to implement the PMA and CAP goals; and (2) assesses the extent to which the CAP goals addressed relevant GPRAMA requirements, and guidance and practices related to timeliness, completeness, and transparency.
To address these objectives, GAO analyzed information on the PMA and CAP goals. GAO also interviewed OMB staff and General Services Administration officials.
GAO is making five recommendations for OMB to improve the transparency of the CAP goals, including designating a goal related to information technology, developing procedures to improve the timeliness of the goals, ensuring consistent quarterly reporting of goal progress, and reporting on final progress at the end of the 4-year goal period. OMB generally agreed with GAO's findings, but disagreed with the recommendations. GAO continues to believe the recommendations are important to improve CAP goal transparency, as discussed in this report.
Recommendations for Executive Action
|Office of Management and Budget||The Director of OMB should develop guidance and procedures to ensure that CAP goals are updated or revised and made publicly available concurrently with the submission of the budget of the United States Government, made in the first full fiscal year following any year in which the term of the President commences. (Recommendation 1)||
|Office of Management and Budget||The Director of OMB should designate a CAP goal addressing IT management, which is responsive to ongoing government-wide challenges. (Recommendation 2)||
|Office of Management and Budget||The Director of OMB should designate a CAP goal addressing federal real property management, which is responsive to ongoing government-wide challenges. (Recommendation 3)||
|Office of Management and Budget||The Director of OMB should ensure consistent quarterly public reporting of progress achieved toward implementing the current set of CAP goals throughout the 2022-2026 goal period. (Recommendation 4)||
|Office of Management and Budget||The Director of OMB should develop guidance to ensure that the progress toward implementing the most recent CAP goals is publicly reported at the end of each 4-year goal period. (Recommendation 5)||