GAO-04-38, GPRA Has Established a Solid Foundation for Achieving Greater Results



Now that the Government Performance and Results Act (GPRA) has been in effect for 10 years, GAO was asked to address (1) the effect of GPRA in creating a governmentwide focus on results and the government's ability to deliver results to the American public, (2) the challenges agencies face in measuring performance and using performance information in management decisions, and (3) how the federal government can continue to shift toward a more results-oriented focus.

GPRA's requirements have established a solid foundation of results-oriented performance planning, measurement, and reporting in the federal government. Federal managers surveyed by GAO reported having significantly more of the types of performance measures called for by GPRA. GPRA has also begun to facilitate the linking of resources to results, although much remains to be done in this area to increase the use of performance information to make decisions about resources. We also found agency strategic and annual performance plans and reports we reviewed have improved over initial efforts. Although a foundation has been established, numerous significant challenges to GPRA implementation still exist. Inconsistent top leadership commitment to achieving results within agencies and Office of Management and Budget (OMB) can hinder the development of results-oriented cultures in agencies. Furthermore, in certain areas, federal managers continue to have difficulty setting outcome-oriented goals, collecting useful data on results, and linking institutional, program, unit, and individual performance measurement and reward systems. Finally, there is an inadequate focus on addressing issues that cut across federal agencies. OMB, as the focal point for management in the federal government, is responsible for overall leadership and direction in addressing these challenges. OMB has clearly placed greater emphasis on management issues during the past several years. However, it has showed less commitment to GPRA implementation in its guidance to agencies and in using the governmentwide performance plan requirement of GPRA to develop an integrated approach to crosscutting issues. In our view, governmentwide strategic planning could better facilitate the integration of federal activities to achieve national goals.