Government Performance and Results Act

AuthorWilliam Funk - Jeffrey S. Lubbers
Performance and
5 U.S.C. § 306 (2012); 31 U.S.C. §§ 1105(a)(29), 1115–1119, 3515(a),
9703–9704 (2012); 39 U.S.C. §§ 2801–2805 (2012); enacted August 3, 1993,
by Pub. L. No. 103-62, 107 Stat. 286. Added 31 U.S.C. §§ 1120-1125, as
amended on Jan. 4, 2011, by Pub. L. No. 111-352, 124 Stat. 3866.
Lead Agencies:
Office of Management and Budget, 725 17th Street, NW, Washington,
DC 20503; U.S. Government Accountability Office, General Government
Division, 441 G Street NW, Washington, DC 20548.
Background. Concerns with government efficiency and shrinking dol-
lars are stimulating federal agencies to improve the performance of their
programs. The Government Performance and Results Act of 1993 (GPRA)
provides a pathway for addressing these challenges, and is intended to bring
about a fundamental transformation in the way government programs and
operations are managed and administered. The change that GPRA seeks to
bring about would place much greater emphasis within the government on
what programs are actually accomplishing and how well the accomplish-
ments match programs’ objectives.
The law requires federal agencies to develop strategic plans describing
their overall goals and objectives, annual performance plans containing quan-
tifiable measures of their progress, and performance reports describing their
success in meeting those standards and measures. Enacted during the first
year of the Clinton Administration, GPRA could loosely be viewed as part of
the Administration’s larger “Reinventing Government” initia tive.
In January 2011, President Obama signed the GPRA Modernization Act
of 2010 (GPRAMA), a substantial modification to the 1993 law. Among
other things, GPRAMA revised several existing GPRA mechanisms and codi-
fied creations and ideas of both the Bush and Obama Administrations. The
law also created new agency positions and methods of cross-agency collabo-
ration with the hopes of constructing a more synergistic structure to better
effect the goals of the original Act.
Coverage. Within the federal government, GPRA applies to all federal
entities defined by 5 U.S.C. § 105 as being an “agency,” with a few excep-
tions. It covers 14 Cabinet departments, virtually all independent establish-
ments (agencies), and all government corporations. The U.S. Postal Service
is covered by the Act, but under a special provision designed to recognize its
special status. Certain provisions in GPRAMA, however, only apply to the 24
so-called CFO Agencies, i.e., those with Chief Financial Officers.1
Main Features. The Act’s features, as amended by GPRAMA, include:
A requirement for federal departments and agencies to prepare agency
strategic plans which operate on a four- (fiscal) year basis, begin-
ning with the President’s budget proposal in fiscal year 2015.
A requirement that federal departments and agencies prepare annual
performance plans setting out specific performance goals for each
fiscal year.
A requirement that OMB prepare annual federal government perfor-
mance plans based on the agency annual performance plans, develop
federal government priority goals, and establish a single, perfor-
mance-related website ( The governmentwide per-
formance plan is to be a part of the President’s budget and transmitted
to Congress. In the agency and governmentwide performance plans,
the levels of program performance to be achieved is to correspond
with the program-funding level in the budget.
1All the federal departments and the Environmental Protection Agency,
NASA, Agency for International Development, General Services Administration,
National Science Foundation, Nuclear Regulatory Commission, Office of Per-
sonnel Management, the Small Business Administration, and the Social Security
Administration. 31 U.S.C. § 901(b).
A requirement that OMB determine whether agencies have met their
performance goals and recommend that Congress take certain cor-
rective measures if agencies fail to meet goals for three consecutive
A requirement that federal departments and agencies submit an Agency
Performance Update (APU) to the President and Congress which
compares actual performance with the goal levels that were set in the
annual performance plan. The annual report is due 150 days after the
end of a fiscal year.
A requirement that certain federal agencies establish high-priority,
near-term objectives every two years, otherwise known as “agency
priority goals,” and establish a goal leader to attain such goals.
A requirement for agencies to provide Congress annually with a list
of all plans and reports mandated by statute or directed in congres-
sional reports. From this list, the agency must identify a minimum
percentage of the products as “outdated” or “duplicative.”
A requirement that agencies establish Chief Operating Officers to
serve as overseers and managers of an agency’s strategy and goals.
A codification of the Performance Improvement Council (established
by Executive Order 13,450), which is responsible for facilitating
agency coordination, resolving any “crosscutting” performance is-
sues, and advancing federal government priority goals.
Provisions giving managers greater flexibility in managing by al-
lowing the waiver of various administrative controls and limitations.
In return, managers are expected to be more accountable for the
performance of their programs and operations.
Purposes. According to GPRA’s proponents, it will help restore the public’s
confidence in government; agency management will be able to articulate and
communicate missions, goals, and accomplishments better; and the President
and Congress will be better able to decide which government efforts are
worth continuing, expanding, or both, and which are best left to state and
local government of the private or nonprofit sectors. GPRA’s explicit goals
are to:
Initiate program performance reform by:
o Requiring the creation of strategic plans with program goals,
o Measuring program performance against those goals, and
o Reporting publicly on progress.

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