Legislating Good Program Performance

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Congressmen Dennis Moore (D-KS) and Henry Cuellar (D-TX) have introduced legislation (H.R. 2142) that would require an effort equivalent to the Program Assessment Rating Tool (PART) and make Program Improvement Officers a statutory role

As much grumbling occurred among agency staff under President Bush’s performance improvement initiatives, that Congress didn’t care and didn’t use the information, it’s interesting to see that two Democrats have introduced legislation to make it permanent. 

Here are the highlights of the “Government Efficiency, Effectiveness, and Performance Improvement Act:”

Program Assessments – Require that every federal program be assessed at least once every five years to evaluate the clarity of the program’s purpose and objectives, the quality of the program’s management and organizational design, the quality of the program’s strategic and performance planning and goals, and the effectiveness of the program in meeting its strategic objectives.

Assessment Reports – Require that comprehensive assessment reports summarizing the findings of each assessment be submitted along with the President’s budget every year.

Improvement Plans – Require agencies to submit, within 90 days after the submission of assessment reports, improvement plans that lay out the managerial, organizational, and operational reforms the agency will implement to respond to the issues raised in the assessment report and to improve the performance of the program.

Agency Performance Improvement Officers and the Performance Improvement Council – Create “agency performance improvement officers” to supervise the performance management activities of agencies, and the Performance Improvement Council, which will assist in the development of performance standards and evaluation methodologies, identify best practices in federal performance management practices, and facilitate the exchange the exchange of information on performance among agencies.  These officers and council were originally created by President Bush by executive order.

What are the bill’s prospects?  That’s a good question.  President Obama, during his campaign, said he would keep the Bush-era PART but “fundamentally” change some of the elements.  An IBM Center report by Shelley Metzenbaum offers some ideas of how that might be done, but this doesn’t require legislation.  The introduction of this bill, however, provides an incentive for action by the new Administration, even if it goes no where legislatively.

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