First-Ever Federal Agency Performance Reports Expected

Washington, DC — Senator Fred Thompson (R-TN), Chairman of the Senate Committee on Governmental Affairs, today said he is disappointed to find misinformation included in the Office of Management and Budget?s (OMB) first-ever performance report. “These performance reports will provide the Congress a real chance to judge the effectiveness of the programs it put in place,” he said. “However, the information should be correct for the system to work and OMB has illustrated the need for that today.”

The report, distributed today at the same time agency reports are due for the first time under the Government Performance and Results Act (Results Act), was supposed to outline the success OMB had in meeting goals. OMB, which oversees the preparation and publication of all agency performance reports, stated in its report that it achieved its goal of 18 clean opinions on agency financial statements. GAO has reported, however, based on information provided to it by OMB, that only 13 agencies received clean opinions on their financial statements.

“OMB has a unique responsibility of leadership in implementing and sustaining the move toward greater use of performance information in policy decisions,” said Senator Thompson. “Today, OMB has shown that, despite the rhetoric of the Vice President on government reform, they are abdicating their leadership by providing inaccurate information to the Congress. And that will not be tolerated.”

GAO has reported extensively on the trouble many agencies have had with obtaining reliable information on which to report their results. In a July 1999 report, GAO wrote that agencies have not provided adequate assurances that performance information in Results Act documents will be credible.

Senator Thompson said of his concern over the quality of data, “we have an opportunity to use performance information to improve government service and save taxpayer dollars. OMB has demonstrated that they view this as just another opportunity to ?spin? the results. And if OMB is misleading Congress, we better be careful about what other agencies are telling us.”

The Results Act, passed in 1993, is designed to provide policy-makers and the public with systematic, reliable information about where federal programs and activities are going, how they will get there, and how we will know when they have arrived. Agencies have had mixed results complying with the reporting requirements of the Act. The Act requires performance reports to be filed by March 31st of each year, beginning this year.