MEMORANDUM FOR THE HEADS OF EXECUTIVE DEPARTMENTS AND INDEPENDENT
FROM: Alice M. Rivlin /s/
SUBJECT: Implementation of the Government Performance and Results Act
In September, 1997, the government-wide provisions of the Government
Performance and Results Act (GPRA) take effect. As part of our ongoing effort
to help departments and agencies improve program management, resource
allocation, and accountability, several major initiatives will be undertaken
during this year. The over-arching objective of these initiatives is to
continue to integrate GPRA requirements into existing program management and
budget processes. These initiatives were briefly sketched in OMB Memorandum
95-19 (September 14, 1995), and are more extensively described below, and in
Attachment 2 consists of questions which have been raised regarding
particular aspects of these initiatives and the answers to those questions. We
will share other questions and answers about the reviews with you as they
Budget uncertainties over these past months have made for a long,
difficult, and complicated budget season. Recognizing this, we have adjusted
the schedule for what would otherwise be our OMB Spring Review so that it will
now occur in July. The Summer Review will be centered on the key parts of the
agency strategic plans, and how agencies are progressing in developing these
plans. This assessment has several objectives:
(1) to assure that agencies are developing plans that meet GPRA
requirements, and are aligned with budgets, streamlining plans, performance
agreements, and other related initiatives going on in the agencies;
(2) to use parts of the strategic plan to frame discussions this Fall
with the agencies on their proposed annual performance goals; and
(3), to identify any steps that should be taken on a multi-agency
basis to coordinate and harmonize goals and objectives for cross-agency
programs and functions.
Agencies will be given feedback on these key parts of the strategic
plans following the review. The attachment identifies the strategic planning
information that agencies should provide to OMB by June 7th to support the
Performance Aspects for Fall Review
The second major initiative is intended to produce consensus between
OMB and the agencies on the performance goals and indicators that agencies
would include in their FY 1999 annual performance plans. This initiative will
be integrated with OMB's Fall Review of the agency FY 1998 budget requests.
Agreement on goals and indicators will help ensure that: (1) the performance
plans contain useful and relevant performance information; and (2), agencies
can better direct their measurement of current performance to generate the
baseline data from which future target levels would be set. A more detailed
overview of the Fall Review of performance information and material to be
provided by the agencies is also set out in the attachment.
In parallel with these initiatives, we will continue our effort to
consolidate and integrate various performance- related plans and reports,
linking these more closely with the formulation and execution of the budget. We
would welcome any specific suggestions or ideas that you may have on further
steps that might be undertaken to assist your implementation efforts.
For GPRA implementation, there will be no more critical time than
these next few months. Agencies should not underestimate the scope of the tasks
ahead, nor the time that will be needed. While the Summer Review and the
performance aspects of Fall Review can help in your implementation, they are
not a substitute for the more fundamental examination of how your programs are
being managed and what they are achieving, which should already be underway.
I. SUMMER REVIEW OF STRATEGIC
A. Strategic Plans in
GPRA requires agencies to submit strategic plans to OMB and Congress
by September 30, 1997. Part 2 to OMB Circular No. A-11 (September 14, 1995)
contains guidance to the agencies on the preparation and submission of these
B. Strategic Plan Material to be Provided
Agencies should provide the following parts of their strategic
plan(s), even if some or all of the material is in the draft or developmental
stage: * The comprehensive mission statement * A description of the general
goals and objectives * A description of the relationship between the general
goals and objectives and the performance goals that will be proposed for the
annual performance plan.
The material provided should encompass all of the agency's major
functions and operations. Agencies should also describe their plans for
consultation with Congress and other interested groups.
For agencies that are proposing goals and objectives for
cross-cutting programs or functions, these goals and objectives should be
identified as well as a brief summary of any on-going or past coordination or
consultation with other agencies that share a responsibility for or have a role
in the cross-cutting program or function.
Agencies with plans that are further developed or nearly done, e.g.,
a plan that includes other GPRA-required elements such as external factors, are
encouraged to provide a copy of the plan with all the completed parts.
C. Agencies Lacking Requested
Agencies which have yet to define, even in a preliminary way, their
mission statement or general goals and objectives, should describe the status
of their strategic planning effort and the schedule for completing their plan.
Agencies with mission statements and goal descriptions that currently cover
only a part of their major programs and functions should provide the date for
completing the statement and goals for the remaining programs.
D. Problems or Issues
With the provided material, agencies may also describe any
significant problems or issues they have encountered in the course of
developing the plan.
E. Due Date for Material
The requested strategic plan information should be provided to your
OMB Resource Management Office (RMO) by COB June 7, 1996.
F. Timing and Structure of Summer
The Summer Review will be conducted in July. The review will focus on
the adequacy, relevance, and appropriateness of the mission statement and the
general goals and objectives, and consistency with the specifications for these
plan elements as set out in Part 2 of Circular No. A-11. Additionally, the
general goals and objectives will be reviewed for how well these will match
with prospective performance goals that would be proposed for the annual
In preparation for the Summer Review, OMB Resource Management Offices
will discuss with their agencies plan content, and the schedule for plan
completion and submission. For cross-cutting programs and functions,
particularly where coordination issues may exist, discussions may
simultaneously involve several agencies.
Following the Summer Review, OMB RMOs will provide feedback to
agencies. Agencies may need to make changes to the plan, particularly for the
general goals and objectives. These general goals and objectives serve as the
foundation for the proposed performance goals and indicators which will be the
focus of the Fall Review of performance information. Where appropriate, an
OMB-agency meeting may be convened at the policy official level.
G. Further Information
Please contact your OMB Resource Management Office if you have
questions regarding the Summer Review.
II. PERFORMANCE ASPECTS OF FALL REVIEW
A. Performance Goals and Indicators in
GPRA requires agencies to submit annual performance plans to OMB
starting with the annual plan for FY 1999. The key feature of these plans are
specific, measurable performance goals and indicators for an agency's major
programs and activities. The first annual plan will be due to OMB in September
1997, concurrent with transmittal of the agency FY 1999 budget requests. OMB
has not yet prepared specific guidance to the agencies on the preparation and
submission of the FY 1999 plans.
B. Performance Goal Information to be
Agencies should provide descriptions of the performance goals and
indicators the agency proposes to include in its performance plan for FY 1999.
These descriptions should be sufficiently specific to allow a determination to
be made as to their usefulness and value in measuring program performance, how
well they reflect the core purpose of the program or activity, and how well
they match with the general goals and objectives in the strategic plan.
Specific performance values, e.g., quantified target levels, for FY
1999 need not be provided as part of the description. For example, a described
goal would be "to reduce the rate of loan defaults to x percentage of all loans
outstanding in FY 1999". The description need not include a value for x.
However, in some instances, the performance goals may be actual milestone or
schedule dates, or have target levels already set. In these instances, the
specific value should be included.
Agencies should not provide an exhaustive list of every possible goal
and indicator. Rather, the descriptions, when viewed collectively, should give
a sense of the type and scope of the goals and indicators that would be
included in the FY 1999 performance plan. Agencies are reminded that GPRA
allows performance plans to "aggregate, disaggregate, or consolidate program
activities", as long as major functions or operations of the agency are not
omitted or minimized.
C. Performance Goal Information for FY
Some of the proposed performance goals and indicators are likely to
be the same (or quite similar to) measures of program performance that an
agency is currently using. Agencies should provide information on projected FY
1998 levels of performance for such measures as part of their budget request
for that fiscal year. In preparing and presenting the FY 1998 budget, agencies
should expect that the amount and usefulness of performance information will be
significantly greater than in past years.
D.Due Date for Material
The descriptions of the proposed performance goals and indicators for
FY 1999 should be submitted to OMB with the agency's budget request for FY
E. Timing and Structure for the
Performance Aspects of Fall Review
The Fall Review of the proposed performance goals and indicators will
be conducted as a part of the hearings and discussions with the agency on its
FY 1998 budget request. These hearings and meetings generally occur between
September and November. By December, 1996, consensus should be reached either
on the performance goals to be included in the FY 1999 plan, or on the schedule
for further work to be done to define these goals early in CY 1997.
The performance aspect of Fall Review will focus on the adequacy and
relevance of the proposed performance goals and indicators. A major criterion
will be whether the goals and indicators capture the essence of what a program
or activity should be achieving, and how well these reflect the performance
expectations of those who receive, use, or purchase the services or products
offered. As the performance goals should highlight those measures that agency
managers use to manage, the agency's ability to provide timely and accurate
performance data will also be reviewed.
F. Further Information
Please contact your OMB Resource Management Office if you have
questions regarding the performance aspect of Fall Review. Attachment 2
Questions and Answers
SUMMER REVIEW AND PERFORMANCE ASPECTS OF FALL
Q1. What are the resource assumptions that agencies should use
as the basis for their strategic plan?
A1. Strategic plans should provide an overall guide to the
formulation of future agency budget requests. These plans are a tool for
agencies in setting priorities and allocating resources consistent with these
priorities. Although a strategic plan is not a budget request, the projected
levels of goal achievement should be commensurate with anticipated resource
Agencies should recognize that Federal budgetary resources will
undoubtedly be severely constrained in the future. A plan that is based on
speculative estimates of funding and staff will likely contain distorted and
unachievable goals. Agencies are expected to use reasonable projections of the
funding and staff that will be available over the time-period covered by the
plan. Q2.If an agency has proceeded to develop its performance measures in
advance of preparing its strategic plan, what information should it submit to
OMB for Summer Review?
A2.The agency should submit its mission statement, as performance
measures are not normally used to define an agency's mission. If the general
goals are still being developed, the agency should provide information on the
performance measurement currently being done, and how and when the agency will
develop the general goals and objectives in its strategic plan. Q3.Does
Summer Review and the Performance Aspects of Fall Review cover all
A3.The reviews cover all agencies subject to GPRA (cabinet
departments, independent agencies, and government corporations). (Several
agencies are statutorily not subject to GPRA; for example, the CIA, the Panama
Canal Commission, and the Postal Rate Commission.) The Postal Service will not
be covered by these reviews.
GPRA allows independent agencies with annual spending of $20 million
or less to request an exemption from GPRA requirements. The planned time line
for deciding these requests is such that any exempted agency would be excused
from Summer and Fall Review. For agencies with annual spending of $20 million
or less, the Summer and Fall Review periods allows OMB and these agencies to
discuss how GPRA requirements can be adapted to match their relative
capabilities and size. Guidance on small agency exemptions will be issued