Government Performance and Results Act

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One of the most propagated policies of every government of the world is the provision of various amenities and programs that favour the country's residents. Owing to this, most governments develop programs that are designed to monitor and appraise the programs implemented for the betterment of the lives of its residents. The United States of America, the world's most socially diverse country of the world, has put in place a lot of programs meant to cater and provide satisfaction for the various fundamental needs of its residents. Programs like the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Medicare, Medicaid, Department of Agriculture, etc, are all designed to ensure that the basic needs of its residents.

In order programs designed by the government of any country to be successful, it is important that certain tools are designed and put in place for the monitoring of these programs. It is also important to design the tools in such a manner that they are independent in order to allow a free and fair assessment an evaluation of the various programs designed and how well they were implemented.

In the United States of America, programs like the Government Performance and Results Act (GPRA) and Performance Assessment Rating Tool (PART) have both been designed in order to facilitate the evaluation of the performance and implementation of the various roles and objectives government sponsored programs were designed for. Even though these programs were developed at different times, it is important to note that the two programs are related to each other as they both facilitate the evaluation of the government sponsored programs and work towards ensuring that all the roles of the government owned programs are implemented and met.


A United States Law passed in 1993, The Government Performance and Results Act (GPRA) (P.L. 103-62) is one amongst a string of laws developed and implemented to aid the management and control of government sponsored programs and projects. The GPRA demands that all agencies take part in project management activities like goal setting, result evaluations and progress reporting. For agencies to adequately follow the requirements of the GPRA, they are expected to make available performance plans and strategic plans and also required to carryout gap analysis for all programs and projects.

Three basic components form the basis of the GPRA: Firstly, all government agencies are expected to produce a five-year strategic plan in which information such as the project mission and the results expected in a long run are all stated therein. Secondly, it expected that all government agencies develop yearly performance plans which ascertain all the performance goals that are meant to be met in the related fiscal year, a short explanation of the way these stated goals will be achieved and an explanation of the was the performance goals may be confirmed. The third basis for the GPRA is that it demands all government sponsored agencies to develop yearly performance reports meant for the evaluations of the success of the agency and whether or not, these agencies have met all the performance goals they aimed at accomplishing.

It is always important that a special office is established which concentrates on ensuring the adequate of a performance evaluation tool. The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) utilizes controls and applies the GPRA on government sponsored agencies so as to evaluate the performance of these agencies. The GPRA is applied alongside the annual budget request of the President.


The Program Assessment Rating Tool (PART) is another program run by the United States Office of Management and Budget. Similar to the GPRA, it is also a government project management tool and was developed by the George W. Bush administration in 2002; its major purpose is to adequately rate every program run by the federal government so as to ascertain the efficiency of these programs. It has been explained that about 98% of every project sponsored by the US federal government had been reviewed as at July, 2008. The table below described the performance of the PART based on the 1017 evaluated programs of the government as at July, 2008.

This program was established the 2004 Fiscal Year Federal budget during which it was defined by President Bush's administration to be a program built on the initial efforts of past American Presidents to serve as guarantee for all government sponsored programs by accessing their performance and results. [1] President Bush applied the PART to partly rationalize elimination or reductions of 150 federal sponsored programs during the 2006 Fiscal Year budget. [2]

There have been various reactions from the congress since the implementation PART. [3] Some researchers explain that implementation of the PART as a project management tool will yield positive results owing to the fact that it will potentially cut down the extent to which the government operates.[4] In 2005, the PART was given a Government Innovators Network Award, based on the fact that the reception it gained had resulted in the implementation of very similar program evaluation mechanisms in countries like Thailand and Scotland.[5]

Relationship between GPRA and PART

The major relationship between in the GPRA and PART is that they are both developed for the purpose of managing federal government sponsored projects. Owing to the acknowledgement of the importance of federal government projects, the GPRA was enacted in 1993 by the Clinton administration. To support and improve on the previous laws regulating the activities of government sponsored programs, the PART was established.

In spite of the fact that these two tools are similar to each other, it is important to note that the GPRA provides regulations for the management of government programs only; the PART on the other hand, works towards accessing if these programs have adequately followed the requirements of the GPRA. The PART consists of questions that are used to evaluate the performance of government sponsored programs and it may be seen from the structure and direction of these questions that they are directed towards probing how well the three basic components that serve as the foundation of the GPRA.

Important Player for the Implementation of the GPRA and PART

The two major players that ensure the successful implementation of the GPRA and the PART are the Government Office of Accountability (GOA) and Office of Management and Budget (OMB). These bodies are considered to be the major players in the GPRA and PART owing to the fact that they are responsible for the implementation, regulation and assessment of both the GPRA and PART.

Government Accountability Office (GAO)

GAO is the United States Congress' stocktaking, appraisal, and investigative aspect and is placed in legislative arm of the United States government. Established by the Budget and Accounting Act of 1921 as the General Accounting Office (Pub.L. 67-13, 42 Stat. 20, June 10, 1921), it is lead by a head whose key duty is to "investigate, at the seat of government or elsewhere, all matters relating to the receipt, disbursement, and application of public funds, and shall make to the President...and to Congress...reports (and) recommendations looking to greater economy or efficiency in public expenditures" (Sec. 312(a), 42 Stat. 25).

The present mission statement of the GAO explains that the agency is in existence for the purpose of assisting the Congress in order to allow it meet its legal requirements and to also provide assistance so as to facilitate improvement in overall performance and guarantee the federal government's responsibility and accountability for the profit of the people of American people. In 2004, the name was modified to present a better reflection of the office's key mission. [1] Even though a lot of countries possess programs that with similar characteristics as the GAO, they majorly concentrate on carrying out financial audits. The auditors of the GAO's auditors do not concentrate on perfuming financial audits alone; they as well participate in a wide variety of performance evaluations.

The Comptroller General of the United Sates heads the GAO; this position is a professional position and does not consider the political affiliation of an individual before appointment. The appointment of the Comptroller General is done by the President of the United States, with the assistance and approval of the Senate; this tenure for the appointment is a 15-year, non-renewable tenure. An eight member bipartisan committee submits a list of three recommended individuals to the president who then chooses a nominee. Only Congress has the legal power to remove the Comptroller General, and this can be done only after a joint resolution or an impeachment has been carried out. [2] Owing to the 15 year tenure, there has only been seven GAO heads since 1921 with no official efforts ever made to take out any Comptroller General. The lengthy tenure enjoyed by the Comptroller General and the appointment and removal form provides the GAO with a leadership continuity and autonomy that hardly exists in arm of the government.

Ever since the founding of the GAO in June 1921, during which it was referred to as an establishment of the government autonomous of the executive arm, till July 2004, the GAO was referred to as the General Accounting Office. Its current name (Government Accountability Office) came up as one of the results of the GAO Human Capital Reform Act (Pub.L. 108-271, July 7, 2004).Since then, the GAO has continually termed to be the best friend of taxpayers and the watchdog of the Congress owing to the exploratory reports and continues audits that have led to uncovering of a lot of government inefficiency and waste. Various journalism sources usually refer to the findings and reports of the GAO and present conclusions on the performance of various federal agencies. Additionally, the findings of the GAO are frequently cited by Congress members during press briefings, floor debates on suggested bills and other congressional hearings. The GAO was rated as the second best working place by the Partnership for Public Service in 2007.

In the course of the nine year term of the seventh GAO head, General David Walker, there was increased tension in the labour-management affairs. This resulted in the conduction of an election by the GAO analyst in September, 2007, geared towards establishing a union with the GAO. The outcome of the election showed that GAO analysts wanted the GAO to be integrated with the International Federation of Professional and Technical Engineers (IFPTE).

The GAO is also responsible for the publication of electronic data for the government of the United States owing to the fact that it has all its reports available its official website, However, some of the reports available on this website are meant for official use only thus their distribution is limited. The diversity of subjects that are published on the website include, the Federal Budget, Retirement, Education issues, Financial Management, Fiscal Issues, Homeland Security, Defence, Justice Administration, Information Management and Technology (IMT), Health Care, Environment, Natural Resources, Trade, International Affairs, Housing, Financial Markets, Human Capital and Government Management.

Majority of the GAO researches and reports available are instigated as a result of Congress members' requests, and this includes requests authorized by statute law. These reports therefore reflect the areas of concern of what is presently significant in the political systems.

It is also the duty of the Government Accountability Office to set up standards that must be followed during the audit processes of government activities, programs, functions and organizations and of government aides given to contractors, non-profit organizations, and other non-governmental organizations. The principles of auditing are called the Generally Accepted Government Auditing Standards (GAGAS), and must be applied by the audit organizations and auditors when requisite by regulation, law, agreement, policy or contract. These principles relate to the professional abilities of the auditors, the excellence of audit attempts, and the features of specialized and significant audit reports.

Office of Management and Budget (OMB)

The OMB is one of the offices at Cabinet-level, and makes up the biggest department in the US Executive Office of the President (EOP). The present director of OMB is named Peter Orszag and was nominated in December, 2008 by resident Barack Obama and endorsed by the senate on January 20, 2009. The antecedent of OM, the Bureau of the Budget, was formulated by the Budget and Accounting Act of 1921 as an element of the Department of the Treasury. The Bureau of the Budget was then transferred in 1939 to EOP; it was finally restructured y the Nixon administration in 1970 to the OMB (Office of the President-Elect (2008-11-25). During the 1990s, the OMB was considered to eliminate the difference between budgetary staff and management staff by integrating the combining the two functions into each specified program auditor in the Resource Management Offices ("OMB Organization Chart", 2009).

The principal mission of the OMB is to help the President and oversee the federal budget design and to also manage the administration of the budget in the Executive Branch organizations. In assisting the president to develop spending plans, the OMB assesses the efficiency of agency policies, processes and programs; evaluates financial needs of various sectors and places funding precedence. Also, the OMB makes sure that agency rules, reports, proposed legislation and testimonies are all connotative with both the policies of administration and the budget designed by the president.

Additionally it is the duty of the OMB to supervise and coordinate the procurement activities, information sharing, financial management and regulatory policies of the federal government. The role of the OMB in each of these areas is to develop administrative coordination, to enhance a more advanced performance, improve coordinating systems, and work towards achieving a reduction in all irrelevant public pressures.

The OMB is made up of a large number of both politically and career-based appointed staff; OMB staff make available relevant stability in the EOP owing to the fact that there are a number of professionals that stay in their current statuses notwithstanding the party the president emerges from ("OMB Organization Chart", 2009).

The most significant component of the OMB are the 4 office dedicated to resource management; these offices are structured along practical lines reflecting the federal government; each of these offices are headed by an associate director of the OMB. An estimated half of the entire staff of the OMB are all appointed to carry out various duties in these offices; most of these staff are appointed to be program examiners. They duties of these examiners must not be limited to only one agency as they can be assigned to more than one federal agency. Such staffs have a double form responsibility and this is usually in the aspects of provision of expertise advice and coordination of management activities. Annually these staffs audit the budget requests of the federal government and aid in providing the decision on whether the budgets are feasible or not.

Through the application of the PART, these staff carryout program appraisals and also review suggested regulations, evaluate awaiting legislation, and supervise the various areas (of the staff specialization) of the proposed budget submitted by the president. The staffs of the OMB are also asked to carryout examinations of the information passed to or received from the EOP staff members. These staffs also make available, relevant information for all the regulatory bodies as regards the standards that must be followed by every sector of the government.

Some of other offices that support the operation of the OMB include the following: Office of Legislative Affairs; the Office of General Counsel; the Budget Review Division (BRD); and the Legislative Reference Division. The BRD carries out budget control exercises in every aspect of the government and is also responsible for the scientific aspects connected to the issuance of the budget prepared by the president. In terms of spending estimations, it can be said that the BRD carries out the same activities as the Congressional Budget Office which is responsible for the approximation of the budget meant to be spent by Congress.

Purpose of the Paper

This paper works towards showing that in spite of the fact that the GPRA and PART have helped to improve the services of the civil service, they are not viable owing to the fact that they are being submarined by political interests. To achieve this, the paper will be divided into three major sections.

The first section of the paper is an overview of the GPRA. In this section, a brief history of the establishment of the GPRA will fist of all be presented. This will be followed by the development trends that were associated with the GPRA from its time of enactment to the present time. The implementation of the GPRA and the results realized so far will also be highlighted in this section of the paper.

The structure of the second section of this research is similar to the first but will however, concentrate on the PART. Firstly, the development of the PART based on the components of the GPRA will be analyzed. This will be followed by a brief history and the development trend of the PART. The implementation procedure of the PART will also be presented in this section; and finally, the results that have been achieved based on the application of the PART project management tool in various in various federal government agencies and federal sponsored programs will be presented and analyzed.

The third and concluding section of this paper concentrates on analyzing the actual success of the GPRA and PART project management tools. This part of the project will not work to criticize the programs will be directed towards showing how political interests have affected the application of the GPRA and PART programs. It is important to note that the outcomes of a program may not necessarily negatively affect society when influenced politically; however there is a probability of negative impacts. On the other hand, a total application of all the evaluating tools of a program without the influence of political or other influential agencies will lead to a more realistic and beneficial decision making process.


Despite the fact that the GPRA and PART have helped to improve the services of the civil service, they are not viable owing to the fact that they are being submarined by political interests.

Study Rationale

Although the GPRA and PART are developed for the purpose of serving as project management tools for federal sponsored programs, it is important to note that no matter how well these programs are managed, they cannot be said to be successful if they do not lead to an improvement in the various federal programs. To facilitate an efficient operation of these programs, it is important to ensure that they are run without any external influence.

During the initial implementation of the GPRA and PART systems, there were various forms of improvement in the operation of the government sponsored programs. However, it can be seen from the trends of current political activities that government programs are not only implemented based on political views and interests but are being validated via the implementation of these tools. Even though it is without doubt that most of the government run agencies are designed and operated by and for the favour of the government, it is important to note that delicate programs like the GPRA and PART are should not be allowed excessive political control owing to the fact that these programs are responsible for the adequate performance of the projects and/or implementation of the programs that are required for the development of the civil service; which directly and indirectly affects the general development of society.


  • "FY 2004 Budget Chapter Introducing the PART: Rating the Performance of Federal Programs". February 7, 2005. Retrieved 2008-09-17.
  • Amelia Gruber (February 7, 2005). "Program assessments factor into Bush plan to trim deficit". Retrieved 2006-12-14.
  • Amelia Gruber (March 4, 2004). "OMB seeks agency outreach on linking performance to budgets". Retrieved 2006-12-14.
  • Keith Miller and Alison Acosta Fraser (January 9, 2004). ""PART" of the Solution: The Performance Assessment Ratings Tool". Heritage Foundation. Retrieved 2006-12-19.
  • "Program Assessment Rating Tool". Government Innovators Network. January 1, 2006. Retrieved 2006-12-15



The Government Performance and Results Act (GPRA) was enacted by congress in 1993 as a public bipartisan law (Public Law 103-62) for the purpose of enhancing performance of the Federal Government by relating the management and resources decisions with the overall deliverance and performance of the program or agency. The GRPA demands that all the Federal programs perform the following:

  • Cultivate strategic procedures which identify the various tasks that will be fulfilled in the next 3 to 5 years;
  • Set performance benchmarks yearly based on and connected to the strategic plans;
  • Provide yearly reports that state the level to which all the pre-planned tasks for the previous year were achieved; and
  • Frequently carryout assessments all agencies and programs and utilize the results of these assessments to describe and rationalize the failures or successes of the programs depending on the performance statistics.

Owing to the enactment of the GPRA, it is expected by the government that every government agency and program works towards coordinating and preparing reports for the GPRA and also works to provide Annual Reports and Annual Performance Plans.

The GPRA works towards shifting the government's concentration, in terms of accountability and decision making away from the concern with performed activities - like auditing and grants dispensation - to a concentration on the outcomes of these activities, like realistic benefits in the areas of safety, employability, program quality and responsiveness. Based on the requirements of the Act, it is expected that agencies create multi-year tactical plan, annual performance reports and annual performance plans (, 2009). The importance of these requirements cannot be overemphasized owing to the fact that strategic plan that is developed to cover a long period and adequately worked towards rarely fails. By integrating the annual performance reports and annual performance plans with the strategic plan provides a means and avenue for the Government Accountability Office (GAO) to adequately and comfortable monitor the progress of the tasks required for the accomplishment of the various goals and objectives of all federal government programs (Reports on the Government Performance and Results Act, 2009).

Historical Background

Senator William V. Roth, on October 3, 1990, established the "Federal Program Performance Standards and Goals Act of 1990" and was submitted to the Committee on Governmental Affairs on the same day to the. [1] In January, 1991, Senator Roth re-established the bill in a somewhat different manner referred to as S.20; the bill was yet again forwarded to the Committee on Government Affairs, and hearings concerning the bill were held in May 1991; yet the bill was not endorsed for another one year.[2] The Committee on Government Affairs put the S. 20 bill into consideration on August 5, 1992 and approved an amendment slightly tilting the bill as the "Government Performance and Results Act of 1992."[3] Alongside other alterations, the amendment mandated that GPRA was to be implemented as a series of pilot programs and projects before it was fully implemented through every aspect of the government. By January, 1993, the S.20 was re-established and still yet, sent to the Committee on Government Affairs with a series of additional hearings being held. On March 27, 1993, the bill was favourably voted by the Committee on Government Affairs. [3]

The H.R. 826 was established in the House of Representatives, H.R.826 on February 4, 1993 by Representatives Clinger, Conyers and McDade. This establishment enjoyed very solid administration backup from the National Performance Review and the OMB. This bill also enjoyed the backup of the General Accounting Office (GAO) which has developed more than seventy reports concerning performance processes, strategies and methods. [4]

On May 25, 1993, the Legislation enacted the bill in the House and the bill was enacted in the Senate on June 23, 1993. On August 3, 1993, President Bill Clinton endorsed the GPRA by signature during which he describes the bill to be a very significant primeval move in the efforts directed towards the reorganization of the procedures of the federal government's operations; he also explained that the bill related directly to the people of America [5].

Development of the Act

The major aim of the GPRA is to enhance the overall effectiveness and efficiency of the programs designed and implemented by or for the Federal programs through the establishment of a mechanism that specifies goals that must be achieved for the performance of a program and also for the evaluation and measurement of the success of these programs. The GPRA compels federal government agencies to concentrate on the results of the programs, the quality of the s they offer and the level of consumer satisfaction they achieve by mandating that strategic plans and performance measures are applied. Based on the requirements of the Act, it is expected that every agency specifies and states all the goals of every program it expects to achieve and then report the progress achieved so far in the accomplishment of these goals.

According to what is stated in the legislation, following are the functions GPRA:

  • Enhance the confidence level the people of America in terms of the capability and the excellence of various systems and programs developed and facilitated by the Federal Government by thoroughly holding every agency of the Federal government answerable for the results of the programs they embark on;
  • Establish reforms in the performance of programs during which a sequence of pilot projects that set program goals, evaluate performance of these programs against the initial goals set and honestly and wholly report the progress made so far to the public.;
  • Enhance the effectiveness of Federal programs and public responsibility by propagating a new concentration on the results of program instead of the programs, service excellence, and ensuring that these programs satisfy the public;
  • Assist federal managers to improve and enhance the level of their service delivery by mandating that every agency prepares a plan directed towards meeting the objectives of the program and by making available every required information to the agency regarding program outcomes and service excellence;
  • Enhancing the decision making of the congress by making available more goal oriented information for the accomplishment of the constitutional objectives, and for the connotative efficiency and effectiveness of all the spending on the programs of the federal government; and
  • Enhancing the federal government's internal administration.

Implementation of the GPRA

After the GPRA was fully established in 1993, an implementation plan was created. This implementation plan was created the form of an implementation calendar. This was done in order to ensure a harmonious implementation of the GPRA by all federal government programs and agencies.

By September 30, 1997, the GPRA implementation plan required that every executive agency forwarded a five year strategic plan representing their pre-planned programs to both the Congress and OMB. It was explained by the GPRA implementation plan that every agency's five year strategic plans will be expected every three years and must consist of a mission statement that will cover all the key activities and operations that will be carried out by the agency; the plan must also include the agency's overall objectives and goals and also, the methods and required resources for the implementation of these goals.

It is also required by the GPRA strategic plan that every agency identifies all the major key external factors which are likely to have notable effects on the agency's ability to accomplish its overall aim and objectives. Additionally, every agency must clearly define all the program assessments utilized for the establishment or the revision of the already existing agency aim and objectives (these descriptions must include all plans for subsequent assessments and evaluations).

Commencing on October 1, 1997, it was stated by the GPRA strategic plan that every Federal agency should develop a yearly performance plan. The earliest plan was meant to be submitted in the 1999 Fiscal Year. Similar to pilot schemes, these plans were expected to discuss every program task in the budget of the agency and also set up performance targets. The set targets then, specify the level of performance which is to be accomplished by the activities of a program.

It is expected that the goals set out by the organization should be clearly defined in a goal oriented, measurable and quantifiable form. With the application of performance indicators the necessary relevant outcomes, outputs and/or service ranges will be derived for every activity of the program. The operational procedures and required resources will also be described and these will create a process that can be applied to compare the definite results of the program with the performance targets.

Starting from March 31, 2000, and all succeeding years, it is mandated by the GPRA strategic plan that all agencies publish yearly reports that indicate the level of performance for all their programs. It is mandated that the report is submitted on or before six months subsequent to the end of the Fiscal Year. The major content of performance reports as mandated by the GPRA strategic plan is that it expects a comparison of the performance indicators originally stated in the performance plan against what were actually accomplished by the program in that particular year. It is also expected that the success so far achieved in terms of the fulfilment of performance goals and instances where these goals are to be achieved are all indicated in the performance report submitted by government agencies.

References used so far

  • a b Office of the President-Elect (2008-11-25). "President-elect Barack Obama announces Office of Management and Budget Director and Deputy Director". Press release. Retrieved 2009-06-05.
  • "OMB Organization Chart". Office of Management and Budget. Retrieved 17 September 2009.
  • ("Reports on the Government Performance and Results Act", Government Accountability Office, 2009,