Agency performance reporting lags under wasteful spending initiative

Tuesday - 7/3/2012, 8:48am EDT

(Story updated 1:25 p.m. July 9 to clarify that the CRS document is a memo and not a report.)

A memo from the Congressional Research Service finds agencies are not listing high-priority goals and regularly updating performance information online as directed by a June 2011 executive order.

The order is part of the administration's broader initiative to increase accountability and cut wasteful government spending.

President Obama had directed agencies to put in place "robust" performance metrics to be "frequently" analyzed by agency leaders. Although some performance information is posted on Performance.gov — such as financial management and acquisition — it's not clear if the performance goals are updated regularly, according to the CRS memo to Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.).

Prior to August 2011, Performance.gov was only available to executive branch personnel. Since it went public, the website has not provided detailed information about agencies' high-priority performance goals, according to CRS.

CRS stated one reason for the limited reporting was that funds for maintaining the site had been "diminished substantially from the previous year."

Data.gov is updating information on federal websites on a biweekly basis. In the past year, the government has cut 300 .gov websites from a total of 1,759.

Leadership meetings

Last summer, President Obama named Vice President Joe Biden to oversee how agencies reduce improper payments and overspending.

"I know Joe's the right man to lead it because nobody messes with Joe," the President said in a video message in June 2011.

The executive order stated Biden would convene regular meetings with Cabinet members. To date, the Vice President has held two meetings since the President issued the order.

The CRS memo also stated the Government Accountability and Transparency Board created under the order has met eight times. The GAT Board, modeled after the Recovery Board to oversee stimulus spending, issued a report in December recommending the Office of Management and Budget require agencies to use software similar to tools found on the Recovery Board's FederalAccountability.gov.

CRS said it based its memo on information available online.

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