Happy Birthday GPRA

The Government Performance and Results Act (GPRA) was enacted in 1993 to bring about a greater focus on results in the federal government.  GPRA’s requirements have built a strong foundation for results-oriented performance planning, measurement, and reporting.

Prior to the enactment of GPRA, federal agencies generally lacked the infrastructure needed to manage and report on results of federal programs in a way that was transparent to Congress and the American people.  Today, the federal government has outcome-oriented strategic plans, performance measures, and accountablity reporting that have significantly improved over time.

Last evening, former Office of Management and Budget (OMB) staffer Walter Groszyk hosted his annual GRPA birthday party at the oyster bar in the historic Old Ebbitt Grill, just steps from the White House in downtown Washington, DC.  President Clinton signed GPRA on August 3, 1993, so this year’s off-season event celebrated GPRA’s 16th birthday.

Missing, because of a trip to California, was John Mercer, who calls himself the “father” of GPRA.  Others in the group also claim paternity, but until there is a reliable legislative DNA test, they all will have to share credit.  David Plocher, a self-described “mid-wife” of GPRA, was in attendance.  No one yet has stepped forward claiming to be the “mother.”

There seems to be little doubt about the Obama Administration’s intention to “use” GPRA’s performance goals and measures to set priorities, monitor progress and diagnose problems.   For example, just over a month ago, Shelley Metzenbaum joined the Office of Management and Budget to lead the Administration’s performance measurement and management effort.

Her boss, Jeff Zients, who is OMB Deputy Director for Management and the Administration’s Chief Performance Officer, recently testified that “The test of a performance management system is whether it is used.”  According to Zients, the Administration is enlisting Cabinet and subcabinet appointees with experience in using performance goals and measures in States and local government to work together as a vanguard for federal performance management.

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