The Government Performance and Results Act of 1993 (Public Law 103-62) was an initiative by the Legislative and Executive Branches of government to improve the efficiency of U.S. Government agencies. Among its goals, as laid out in Section 2 of the Act, were to:
"improve the confidence of the American people in the capability of the Federal Government, by systematically holding Federal agencies accountable for achieving program results; initiate program performance reform with a series of pilot projects in setting program goals, measuring program performance against those goals, and reporting publicly on their progress; improve Federal program effectiveness and public accountability by promoting a new focus on results, service quality, and customer satisfaction;...improve congressional decisionmaking by providing more objective information on achieving statutory objectives, and on the relative effectiveness and efficiency of Federal programs and spending; and improve internal management of the Federal Governmen."
Now, having been involved in certain aspects of the implementation of the Government Performance and Results Act (GPRA), this educator can attest to both the good intentions of those who drafted the legislation, and the dearth of positive results that emerged from its implementation. Congress is usually the driver of government improvement statutes, as it is continuously bartering with the federal agencies it ostensibly oversees and is forever anxious to see some form of metrics reflecting progress on various government projects. The end result, as was the case with the GPRA, is an endless flow of lengthy reports issued to Congress that often took months or years to complete. Those reports may or not be read by Congressional staff, and their recommendations may or may not find their way into additional legislation.
Which brings us to the Government Performance and Results Modernization Act of 2010 (Public Law 111-352). As the title suggests, GPRMA was a recent attempts at addressing deficiencies in the GPRA. Once again, federal agencies were tasked with doing a better job of identifying their responsibilities, quantifying their results, and reporting to Congress on their progress. The "strategic plan" required by the GPRMA was to include:
"a comprehensive misssion statement covering the major functions and operations of the agency; general goals and objectives...for the major functions and operations of the agency; a description of how any goals and objectives contribue to the Federal Government priority goals...; a description of how the goals and objectives are to be achieved..." and so on.
The GPRMA is a lengthy series of requirements, all oriented toward the production of reports on what individual agencies are doing to function more effeiiently. In short, it restates the requirements of the GPRA.
These two Acts, as with many similar Acts passed by Congress over the years, have remarkably little to show for themselves. Absent serious managerial changes involving reforms to civil service laws, combind with changes by Congress in how it draws up spending bills and performance requirements, the prospects of signficant iimprovements in how federal agencies function are slim.