Presidential and Congressional Transition

  • The Management Agenda provides high-level information for new leaders about the critical management challenges facing the federal government and lays out the actions needed to address those challenges.

  • GAO’s Management Agenda

    Chris Mihm, Managing Director, Strategic Issues, describes how the management agenda can help policy makers and other leaders address existing problems and ensure the efficiency and effectiveness of new policies going forward.

    View the Transcript

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  • Manage Finances to Improve the Nation’s Fiscal Condition

    The incoming Administration and Congress face major challenges to improve the nation’s fiscal condition. These challenges include reducing the gap between revenue and spending, addressing a multibillion-dollar tax gap, reducing billions of dollars in improper payments, and improving the reliability of financial information.

  • Manage Acquisitions to Maximize Cost Savings and Performance

    In recent years, the federal government has spent approximately $440 billion annually to acquire goods and services. To maximize cost savings and performance, Congress and the incoming Administration need to address issues involving major systems acquisitions; the protection of critical technologies and supply chains; federal contracting, and services acquisitions.

  • Develop and Manage Information Technology to Meet the Government's Needs

    Advances in information technology (IT) change the way agencies do business. Managing this technological change government-wide poses a number of challenges for the incoming Congress and Administration, specifically in acquiring and operating these systems.

  • Strengthen Cybersecurity Over Sensitive Data and Protect Critical Infrastructure Systems

    Federal agencies and our nation’s critical infrastructures depend on computerized (cyber) information systems and electronic data to carry out operations and to process, maintain, and report essential information. The security of these systems and data is vital to public confidence and the nation’s safety, prosperity, and well-being.

  • Strengthen Human Capital Capabilities to Enhance Performance

    Strategic federal human capital management is fundamental to maximizing the government’s performance and assuring its accountability to the nation as a whole. Challenges for Congress and the incoming administration include addressing mission critical skills gaps, recruiting and retaining a skilled workforce, aligning human capital strategies across government, and changing agency cultures.

  • Collaborate to Achieve National Outcomes

    The incoming Administration and Congress face challenges that involve multiple agencies, specifically: inefficient government operations, insufficient collaboration across agencies, and mismanaged federal grants. Strategies to improve how agencies work together can also help them address these challenges.

  • Reduce Fragmentation, Overlap and Duplication

    Challenge: Inefficient Government Operations

    Since 2011, we have identified more than 200 areas where government missions are unnecessarily fragmented, overlapping or duplicative across several agencies or programs. We also identified more than 600 actions that could address these areas and achieve financial benefits.

    While Congress and executive branch agencies have taken some of the actions we identified, many more remain. We estimate that taking all of these actions would save tens of billions of dollars. Fully addressing these actions will take time and require sustained leadership across agencies and Congress.

    Key Actions Needed:

    1. Address remaining actions to reduce fragmentation, overlap and duplication in the federal government.
    2. Address remaining actions to achieve cost savings and enhance revenue.
  • Overall Status of Action Items from Prior Annual Reports, 2011-2016, as of
    November 15, 2016

    Title: Status of 2011-2016 Actions, as of March 2, 2016 

Image: Table.

Number of executive branch actions (percentage)
Addressed: 197
Partially addressed: 175
Not addressed (a): 158
Consolidated or other: 19
Total: 549

Number of congressional actions (percentage)
Addressed: 27
Partially addressed: 10
Not addressed (a): 51
Consolidated or other: 5
Total: 93

Addressed: 224 (35%)
Partially addressed: 185 (29%)
Not addressed (a): 209 (33%)
Consolidated or other: 24 (4%)
Total: 642

(a) Not addressed includes 98 new actions identified in the 2016 Duplication report.  Of the 98, 6 were actions added to existing areas; these were all directed to executive branch agencies.  Of the remaining 92, 84 actions were directed to executive branch agencies and 8 to Congress.

Source: GAO. |
  • GAO Contact

    Jessica Lucas-Judy

    Director, Strategic Issues


    J. Christopher Mihm

    Managing Director, Strategic Issues


  • Improve Interagency Collaboration

    Challenge: Insufficient Collaboration on Government-wide Issues

    Many of the meaningful results that the federal government seeks to achieve require the coordinated effort of more than one federal agency.

    Even with sustained leadership, issues that involve multiple agencies are difficult to address because they may require agencies and Congress to reexamine the structure, operation, funding, and performance of a number of long-standing federal programs or activities. Collaboration and improved working relationships across agencies are fundamental to addressing challenges.

    Key Actions Needed:

    1. Use a variety of mechanisms to implement interagency collaborative efforts, such as appointing a coordinator, co-locating agencies within one facility, or establishing interagency task forces.
    2. Address government-wide issues by developing inventories of programs that give decision makers comprehensive program and funding information.
  • Key Considerations for Implementing Interagency Collaborative Mechanisms

    Title: Key Considerations for Implementing Interagency Collaborative Mechanisms

Image: Illustrated table organized by Key Feature and Key Considerations categories.

Key feature: Outcomes and accountability
Key consideration: Have short-term and long-term outcomes been clearly defined? Is there a way to track and monitor their progress?

Key feature: Bridging organizational cultures
Key consideration: What are the missions and organizational cultures of the participating agencies? Have agencies agreed on common terminology and definitions?

Key feature: Leadership
Key consideration: How will leadership be sustained over the long-term? If leadership is shared, have roles and responsibilities been clearly identified and agreed upon?

Key feature: Clarity of roles and responsibilities
Key consideration: Have participating agencies clarified roles and responsibilities?

Key feature: Participants
Key consideration: Have all relevant participants been included? Do they have the ability to commit resources for their agency?

Key feature: Resources
Key consideration: How will the collaborative mechanism be funded and staffed? Have online collaboration tools been developed?

Key feature: Written guidance and agreements
Key consideration: If appropriate, have participating agencies documented their agreement regarding how they will be collaborating? Have they developed ways to continually update and monitor these agreements?

  • GAO Contact

    J. Christopher Mihm

    Managing Director, Strategic Issues


  • Improve Grants Management

    Challenge: Complex and Diverse Grant Mechanisms

    Federal grants to state and local governments for various purposes provide funding to address vital needs in areas such as health care, transportation, education, and social services. Outlays for these grants have increased since 1980.

    Growth in both the number of grant programs and level of funding has created diversity and complexity in the federal grants management process. This complexity could make it more difficult to coordinate and consolidate grant programs or compare grant administrative costs across different programs and draw meaningful conclusions about the overall effectiveness of grants in helping to achieve results.

    In addition, many grant-making agencies have not closed out expired grants in a timely manner. As of the end of fiscal year 2015, expired grant funds in the Payment Management System—a grant management system—alone were worth almost $1 billion that could be redirected to other projects or returned to the Treasury.

    Key Actions Needed:

    1. Streamline and simplify the grants management processes.
    2. Monitor grantee performance to determine whether program goals are being achieved.
    3. Improve the timeliness of grant closeout so unused funds can be redirected to other projects and priorities as authorized.
  • Total Federal Outlays for Grants to State and Local Governments, in 2015 Constant Dollars, Fiscal Years 1980-2015

    Title: Total Federal Outlays for Grants to State and Local Governments, in 2015 Constant Dollars, Fiscal Years 1980-2015

Image: Mountain chart.

1) Federal grant outlays to state and local government- Inflation adjusted 
1980: 230
1981: 217
1982: 189
1983: 190
1984: 194
1985: 204
1986: 211
1987: 199
1988: 206
1989: 209
1990: 224
1991: 247
1992: 278
1993: 295
1994: 314
1995: 328
1996: 326
1997: 330
1998: 342
1999: 368
2000: 385
2001: 418
2002: 456
2003: 493
2004: 504
2005: 514
2006: 505
2007: 502
2008: 511
2009: 590
2010: 661
2011: 646
2012: 569
2013: 561
2014: 583
2015: 624

2) Medicaid federal grant outlays - Inflation Adjusted
1980: 35
1981: 39
1982: 37
1983: 39
1984: 40
1985: 44
1986: 47
1987: 50
1988: 54
1989: 59
1990: 68
1991: 84
1992: 106
1993: 115
1994: 122
1995: 130
1996: 132
1997: 134
1998: 141
1999: 148
2000: 159
2001: 170
2002: 191
2003: 204
2004: 218
2005: 218
2006: 210
2007: 216
2008: 223
2009: 275
2010: 296
2011: 293
2012: 262
2013: 273
2014: 305
2015: 350

Source: GAO analysis of Office of Management and Budget data.  |
  • GAO Contact

    J. Christopher Mihm

    Managing Director, Strategic Issues


  • Build Capacity to Achieve Crosscutting Goals

    Challenge: Insufficient Performance Measurement and Reporting

    The Office of Management and Budget coordinates with agencies to develop federal government priority goals (known as cross-agency priority or CAP goals). These goals are broad mission and management goals that require agencies to work together to achieve.

    For example, improving STEM education is one mission CAP goal. Efforts to achieve this are led by the Office of Science and Technology Policy and the National Science Foundation. An example of a management CAP goal is improving customer service. The Office of Management and Budget and the Social Security Administration lead efforts to achieve that goal.

    Accurate and reliable performance information is critical to monitor and track progress on achieving the current set of mission and management CAP goals.

    Key Actions Needed:

    1. Continue to build capacity and provide senior leadership support for implementing CAP goals.
    2. Report the actions that CAP goal teams are taking, or plan to take, to develop performance measures and quarterly targets to track progress.
  • Examples of Cross-Agency Priority Goals and Goal Leaders

    Title: Examples of 2014 - 2018 Cross-Agency Priority Goals and Goal Leaders

Image: Illustration depicting CAP Goal Leaders by Mission CAP Goals and by Management CAP Goals.

Mission CAP Goals:

STEM Education
--Office of Science and Technology Policy
--National Science Foundation

Management CAP Goals:

Customer Service
--Office of Management and Budget
--Social Security Administration

Source:  |
  • GAO Contact

    J. Christopher Mihm

    Managing Director, Strategic Issues


  • Improve Federal Performance to Better Achieve Results

    Given the increase in public demands for a more effective and accountable federal government, it is critical that Congress and the incoming administration collect and use evidence to drive improvements and better achieve results. Agencies should use data for decision making, enhance regulatory processes, build evaluation capacity, and improve the visibility of agency-wide risks.

  • Promote Transparency and Open Government to Enhance Civic Engagement and Foster Innovation

    To foster transparency, improve oversight, and enhance public participation in decision-making, Congress and the new administration are challenged to ensure government and public access to reliable and complete federal financial and performance information. Attention to these initiatives can help agencies gather more data, make data more accessible, be more responsive to the public, and involve the public in accomplishing social goals.