March 17, 1998
CRS Report for Congress
Received through the CRS Web
Government Performance and Results Act:
Proposed Amendments (H.R. 2883)
Frederick M. Kaiser and Virginia A. McMurtry
Specialists in American National Government
Reflecting a determination that the majority of the agency strategic plans submitted
to Congress in September 1997, pursuant to the Government Performance and Results
Act (GPRA), were inadequate, the House Government Reform and Oversight
Committee reported and the full House approved amendments to GPRA. The
amendments (H.R. 2883), among other things, would require agencies to revise their
strategic plans in accordance with specifications set out in the bill and to resubmit them
to Congress and the Office of Management and Budget by September 30, 1998, rather
than in the year 2000. With the support of key majority party leaders, the legislation, as
amended, was approved by the House on March 12, 1998. The bill awaits Senate action.
The Government Performance and Results Act of 1993 (107 Stat. 285), referred to
alternatively as GPRA or the Results Act, seeks to encourage greater efficiency,
effectiveness and accountability in federal spending by requiring agencies to develop
strategic plans and performance measures, and to prepare annual performance plans and
reports. GPRA supplements a number of other budget, accounting, and financial
management laws designed to upgrade existing procedures or to provide new
mechanisms for managing government operations and improving accountability.1 After
three years of experience with GPRA pilot projects, the Office of Management and
Budget oversaw the first round of government wide submissions of strategic plans in 1997
and annual performance plans from the agencies to Congress in 1998.2
U.S. General Accounting Office, Managing for Results: The Statutory Framework for
Performance-Based Management and Accountability, GAO report GAO/GGD/AIMD-98-52
(Washington: Jan. 1998).
For a review of recent developments in GPRA implementation, see: U.S. Library of
Congressional Research Service ˜ The Library of Congress
GPRA created a new oversight requirement: that “the agency consult with the
Congress” when developing a strategic plan (107 Stat. 286). In early 1997 a bicameral
congressional group, consisting of the majority party leadership and relevant committee
chairmen, sent a letter to the OMB Director, conveying their expectations for the
consultation process.3 Agencies were to submit their draft plans in advance, and then
meet with relevant congressional committees during the summer of 1997. Taking into
account suggestions received during consultations with Congress and other stakeholders,
agencies were to submit their revised strategic plans, along with their initial drafts of
annual performance plans, to OMB by the end of September, 1997.
While these revised strategic plans, on the whole, showed improvement, a report
highly critical of them was issued in November 1997 by Republican congressional
leaders.4 Using an evaluation system with 10 factors, final grades for the plans ranged
from 28 to 75, with an average grade of 46 (on a scale of 0 to 100).5 In a statement
accompanying the release of the November report, Majority Leader Dick Armey stated,
“While grades have improved since this summer, the average agency score is still an F.
Federal agencies need to go back and repeat the course until they write a solid strategic
plan that allows us to monitor performance clearly and directly.” 6 The report noted
several major flaws in the strategic plans; for example, some agencies set goals that
stretched their statutory authority. Other general problems included lack of coordination
between agencies for shared missions or goals, and inadequacies in indicators for
measuring performance. In an apparent effort to address concerns identified in the report,
on November 7, 1997, H.R. 2883, the Government Performance and Results Act
Technical Amendments of 1997, was introduced by Representative Dan Burton, with
Representatives Armey, Stephen Horn, and Pete Sessions as initial cosponsors.
On January 30, 1998, the General Accounting Office, assigned an important role in
monitoring and assisting with implementation of GPRA, released a report based on its
Congress. Congressional Research Service, Government Performance and Results Act:
Implementation During 1997 and Issues of Possible Concern, 105th Congress, Second Session,
by Genevieve J. Knezo, CRS report 97-108 STM (Washington: Mar. 6, 1998).
For further discussion of the consultation process, see: U.S. Library of Congress,
Congressional Research Service, Government Performance and Results Act: Implications for
Congressional Oversight, by Frederick M. Kaiser and Virginia A. McMurtry, CRS report 97-382
GOV (Washington: May 12, 1997), pp. 8-12.
The Results Act: It’s the Law, issued by: House Majority Leader Dick Armey; Chairman
Larry Craig, Senate Republican Policy Committee; Chairman Dan Burton, House Government
Reform and Oversight Committee; Chairman Bob Livingston, House Appropriations Committee;
and Chairman John Kasich, House Budget Committee.
Available on the Internet:
“As with the drafts, the final plans were graded by Congressional staff teams representing
the House committees of jurisdiction, as well as the Appropriations and Budget Committees.
Minority staff were invited, and they participated in many grading sessions. Senate committee
staff members also participated.” Ibid., pt. 2, p. 2.
“Clinton Administration Fails Accountability Review,” press release available on the
Internet: http://freedom.house.results/final report/release.asp.
review of the final strategic plans for the 24 Chief Financial Officers Act agencies.
GAO’s assessment was more positive than the earlier evaluation by the majority
leadership. GAO concluded that, on the whole, the strategic plans which the agencies
submitted to OMB in September “appear to provide a workable foundation for Congress
to use in helping to fulfill its appropriations, budget, authorization, and oversight
responsibilities and for agencies to use in setting a general direction for their efforts.”
However, the GAO report also stressed that the strategic planning efforts “are still very
much a work in progress,” and highlighted three difficult planning challenges that will
require continued progress by the agencies as they work on the annual performance plans:
“setting a strategic direction, coordinating crosscutting programs, and ensuring the
capacity to gather and use performance and cost data.”7
H.R. 2883, the GPRA Technical Amendments of 1997
The perceived inadequacy of the strategic plans submitted in September of 1997 led
to the introduction of H.R. 2883 by Representative Dan Burton, Chairman of the House
Committee on Government Reform and Oversight, for himself and three others, including
the House Majority Leader, in the closing days of the first session of the 105th Congress.
The bill reflects a determination that the majority of the strategic plans were inadequate
and needed to be revised and resubmitted to Congress as soon as feasible, that is, by
September 1998, rather than two years later, in the year 2000, as called for in the original
Further changes to GRPA contained in H.R. 2883, as introduced, would require that
the strategic plans of agencies: (1) provide mission statements, goals, and objectives that
are “explicitly linked to the statutory authorities” of the agency; (2) identify agency
functions that are similar to those of either more than one component of the agency or to
those of other agencies, and explain coordination efforts; (3) describe certain major
management problems and measures to resolve such problems; (4) assess the reliability
of the agency's data sources; and (5) in addition to the agency-wide strategic plan, contain
separate strategic plans for major subunits. The amendments also call for the Director of
the Office of Management and Budget to submit to Congress an annual integrated
governmentwide performance report, to include actual results and accomplishments for
the entire federal government, beginning March 31, 2000. H.R. 2883, as introduced, also
would require each inspector general to audit annually each program performance report
and provide the results to Congress.
According to the supporters of H.R. 2883, the requirement for agencies to undertake
another round of strategic plans by September 30, 1998, is necessary for two primary
reasons. First, the strategic plans themselves have intrinsic worth, as they are to identify
U.S. General Accounting Office, Managing for Results: Agencies Annual Performance
Plans Can Help Address Strategic Planning Challenges, GAO report GAO/GGD-98-44
(Washington: Jan. 1998), p. 3.
For a discussion of the competing views associated with the proposal, see U.S. Congress,
House Committee on Government Reform and Oversight, Subcommittee on Government
Management, Information, and Technology, Legislative Hearing on H.R. 2883, Feb. 12, 1998;
Subcommittee Markup of H.R. 2883, March 3 and 4, 1998; and House Committee on
Government Reform and Oversight, Markup of H.R. 2883, March 5, 1998 (not yet printed).
missions, priorities, and cross-cutting programs. Second, the strategic plans give rise to
the annual performance goals and plans. If the parent plan is faulty, and remains so, then
one of two problems arises: either the followup annual plan would also be faulty, or it
would have to ignore or violate the strategic plans. Further, if the law were amended to
require a formal resubmission of the strategic plans this year, then, presumably, the
requirement for agencies to consult with Congress would be retained. This would allow
Congress to play a more direct, immediate, and formal role in the process than if the
agencies revised their plans on their own or followed their own guidelines and guidance.
H.R. 2883, according to its proponents, is also designed to induce the strategic plans
to better address major management weaknesses in agency operations, agency data
capacity, and cross-cutting programs, as well as interagency coordination efforts. The bill
calls for meeting these objectives by requiring that agencies identify major management
weaknesses and cross-cutting programs, describe interagency coordination efforts, and
assess the reliability of their data sources; and that inspectors general be more extensively
involved in the process, by having them audit annually each program performance report.
Opposition to the bill has arisen from the Clinton Administration, some legislators,
and other sources.9 OMB, for instance, has said that the strategic plans are already being
reviewed and revised, where necessary, and that this is an on-going iterative process, as
envisioned in the original act, with agencies urged to contact legislators as well as
stakeholders.10 OMB added that a mandatory resubmission process would impose a
heavy, unanticipated burden on the agencies, which are also engaged in completing other
Results Act requirements, as well as performing other agency duties. Some critics note
that the requirement for assessing major management problems duplicates existing
statutory provisions. Separately, inspectors general objected to the provision requiring
them to audit each program performance report on the grounds that this “could entail a
massive effort, overwhelming the audit resources of many members of the IG
Congressional Action on H.R. 2883
House Committee Action.
The House Subcommittee on Government
Management, Information, and Technology held a hearing on H.R. 2883 on February 12,
1998. Initially, markup had been scheduled to follow immediately, but was postponed
at the request of then-ranking minority member, Representative Carolyn Maloney. The
subcommittee resumed consideration of H.R. 2883 on March 3, 1998, with intense debate
about whether GPRA should be amended at all and, if so, in what areas and to what
extent. Markup continued on March 4. Four amendments were adopted by the
See sources cited in note 8, as well as OMB Watch, “Give the Results Act Time to Work:
An Analysis of H.R. 2883,” Feb. 11, 1998. Handout available at a Feb. 12, 1998, hearing of
House Subcommittee on Government Management, Information, and Technology.
See statement by G. Edward Deseve, Acting Deputy Director, Office of Management and
Budget, before the House Subcommittee on Government Management, Legislative Hearing on
H.R. 2883, Feb. 12, 1998.
Eleanor Hill, Vice Chair, President’s Council on Integrity and Efficiency, and Inspector
General, Department of Defense, Letter [on H.R. 2883] to Honorable Dan Burton, Chairman,
House Committee on Government Reform and Oversight, Feb. 11, 1998, p. 1.
subcommittee, and then the panel approved the bill, as amended, by voice vote.
Amendments added during markup would:
clarify the role of inspectors general in assessing performance plans and reports, in
part, by calling on them to focus on performance measures associated with programs
and activities that have a high risk of waste, fraud, or mismanagement;
require that certain financial statements, currently submitted by the agencies only to
OMB, also be submitted to Congress;
require full cost accounting, by providing that agencies determine the complete costs
of programs covered by GPRA performance standards; and
direct that the Council on Environmental Quality, otherwise exempted from GPRA
because of its small budget, be covered by the Results Act.
Five other amendments were offered in subcommittee markup by Democrats; two
were rejected and three were withdrawn.12
The next day, on March 5, 1998, the full Government Reform and Oversight
Committee held markup for H.R. 2883. A fifth amendment to the original bill was
approved by the full committee, to allow strategic plan missions to be linked not just to
statutory authority but also to “other legal authority,” such as executive orders or judicial
rulings. The committee voted to approve the subcommittee substitute version, as further
amended, by a vote of 21-12; two Democrats voted with the majority. The Committee
then, by voice vote, favorably reported the bill, as amended, to the House.13
Other amendments, rejected by votes largely following party lines, were offered by
Representative Dennis Kucinich (now the ranking minority member on the
subcommittee), during markup by the full committee. These would have made GPRA
applicable to congressional committees and made it clear that not all 100 agency strategic
plans would need to be officially revised and resubmitted. Other discussion during the
markup sessions centered on whether the Federal Reserve should be covered by GPRA;
however, no formal proposal along these lines emerged at the time, in part, reportedly,
because of the jurisdictional interests of the House Committee on Banking and Financial
House Floor Action. The House, by vote of 242 to 168, passed H.R. 2883 on
March 12, 1998, after two amendments were adopted.14 The chamber approved an
U.S. Congress. House Committee on Government Reform and Oversight, Government
Performance and Results Act Technical Amendments of 1998, report to accompany H.R. 2883,
105 th Cong., 2nd sess., H. Rept. 105-429 (Washington: GPO, 1998), p. 10. Also see “HR 2883
Approved by House Subcommittee,” by Patrick Lester, OMB Watch, March 4, 1998. Received
via e-mail from OMB Watch’s Results Act list, address: ombwatch@ rtknet.org.
House Rept. 105-429, p. 11.
“Providing for Consideration of H.R. 2883, Government Performance and Results Act
Technical Amendments of 1998,” debate in House, Congressional Record, v. 144, March 12,
amendment, offered by Representative Carolyn Maloney, that would establish limited
applicability of GPRA to the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System and the
Federal Reserve banks; this addition would cover only operations that are not directly
related to the establishment and conduct of the monetary policy of the United States. A
second amendment, introduced by Representative Stephen Horn, made a technical change
in the date of submission of the required agency inspector general reviews of performance
plans and reports.
The chamber rejected an amendment, from Representative Dennis Kucinich, to
strike the language requiring the resubmission of the agency strategic plans. In addition,
a point of order was sustained against another amendment offered by Representative
Kucinich, which would have brought House or Senate committees under GPRA
coverage; the amendment was ruled not germane to the bill, because it relates to
executive branch agency responsibilities under GPRA and not to entities in the legislative
Future Action. The outlook for H.R. 2883 in the Senate, where it awaits committee
consideration, is less certain than in the House. Unlike the broad bipartisan support
enjoyed by the legislation which ultimately became the Government Performance and
Results Act of 1993, the disagreements evident during committee and floor consideration
in the House reflect that such bipartisan support has yet to materialize for H.R. 2883.
Although called “Technical Amendments,” the provisions contained in this bill could
make significant changes in the original GPRA framework.
1998, pp. H1117-H1135.