Senators Say Government Performance and Results Act Implementation Faces Significant Challenges

WASHINGTON, D.C.—A new General Accounting Office (GAO) report examining the impact of the Government Performance and Results Act of 1993 (GPRA) 10 years after its enactment shows that the federal agencies have made steady improvement toward producing strategic plans, annual plans for the upcoming year, and then reporting on their success in meeting those goals. However, significant challenges remain. The report, requested by Senate Governmental Affairs Committee Chairman Susan Collins (R-ME) and Ranking Member Joe Lieberman (D-CT), along with Subcommittee Chairmen George Voinovich (R-OH) and Peter Fitzgerald (R-IL), and Subcommittee Ranking Members Daniel Akaka (D-HI) and Richard Durbin (D-IL), was made public today.

“I am pleased that Washington is finally making progress toward becoming a results-oriented government. In these tight budgetary times, we need to know which programs work and which do not. GAO has provided Congress and the American taxpayers with an insightful appraisal of the government’s efforts to account for the trillions of tax dollars it spends each year,” said Senator Collins.

GPRA requires federal agencies to develop strategic plans with long-term goals and objectives, annual plans with outcome-oriented goals linked to the long-term goals, and annual reports in which they evaluate their success in meeting those goals. According to the GAO report, more federal managers are using strategic planning and goals as outlined by GPRA, but significant challenges to GPRA implementation exist. Specifically, federal managers have had difficulty setting outcome-oriented goals, collecting useful data on results, and linking performance measurements and reward systems. In addition, the report found that there has been an inadequate focus on addressing program areas that cut across federal agencies.

“This report demonstrates that the Committee’s work on GPRA has led to better agency planning, measurement, and reporting of results. This is a key step toward improving program management and holding agencies accountable for achieving program goals. To continue this progress, OMB must adopt GAO’s recommendations, such as providing clearer and more consistent guidance to agencies for GPRA implementation and addressing problems agencies face in measuring performance,” said Senator Lieberman.

“I commend GAO for their work on the GPRA 10-year retrospective and am pleased that agencies are improving the quality of their annual plans and reports. I believe that GRPA is a vital tool that has benefits far beyond linking agency budgets with performance information. Agencies and managers can improve the success of GPRA by linking their annual plans and reports directly with employee work plans,” said Senator Voinovich.

“Government must continually be prodded to produce results for its citizens rather than sluggish inaction for its bureaucrats. There are hundreds of well-meaning programs in Washington but only the ones that are driven by results truly serve the public. We must continue to make sure the federal government has this single-minded focus,” said Senator Fitzgerald.

“As an original cosponsor of the Government Performance and Results Act in 1993, I am pleased that GAO found an increased focus on linking resources to performance and results. More work needs to be done, but GPRA should remain a cornerstone in the federal government’s efforts to strengthen strategic planning across all agencies,” Senator Akaka said.

“This report shows that in a number of important ways, the Results Act has lived up to its name—by encouraging federal agencies to focus on their missions, measure performance, and ensure accountability, it has resulted in a more efficient and effective government,” said Senator Durbin. “There is still more work to be done and agencies and OMB should take to heart the recommendations made in the GAO report—especially as they relate to collecting accurate data—to continue the progress made so far.”

The report is available online at