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GPRA Modernization Act of 2010 Explained


Background the use of performance information in

program decision-making.
Congress recently passed – and President
Obama just signed -- legislation updating The law will likely change behaviors in
the 18-year-old Government Performance the executive branch by creating a more
and Results Act (GPRA). explicit fact-based decision-making
framework to implement programs and
This update effort started several years be more results-oriented. Specific
ago through the efforts of Congressman elements include:
Henry Cuellar (D-TX) then evolved more
recently with support from Senators 1. Revised agency strategic planning
Tom Carper (D-DE) and Mark Warner requirements.
(D-VA). 2. Revised agency annual performance
planning requirements.
The update is based on more than 15 3. Revised agency performance re-
years of experience – documented porting requirements.
through numerous GAO reports that 4. New requirements to designate
culminated in a 2004 overarching cross-cutting federal priority goals
assessment. This experience included and agency-level priority goals.
both the evolution of agency practices 5. New requirements for quarterly
as well as increased access to reviews and reporting of govern-
information and collaboration via the mentwide and agency-level priority
Internet. goals.
6. Codification of the existing govern-
The original 1993 law required agencies ance framework that evolved over
to create multi-year strategic plans, the past 15 years. Specifically, it
annual performance plans, and annual legislatively creates (1) chief opera-
performance reports. The new ting officers, (2) program improve-
legislation makes some significant ment officers, (3) a governmentwide
changes – about 150 actions by one performance improvement council,
count – to existing law and will take and (4) a governmentwide perform-
several years to implement. ance web-site.
7. Other new implementation actions,
Overview of New Law. The new legis- such as better training for program
lation creates a more defined managers and a timetable for action.
performance framework by prescribing
a governance structure and by better Will Take Two to Tango. But for the law
connecting plans, programs, and to be effective, Congress may have to
performance information. As described change its behavior as well. For
in the Senate committee report, the new example, the law requires greater
law requires more frequent reporting consultation with Congress in the
and reviews (quarterly instead of designation of cross-cutting and
annually) that are intended to increase agency-level priority goals, as well as in
the development of agency strategic
plans. But to do this, Congress will

have to find new ways to coordinate its terms. The bill requires strategic plans
own efforts across committee cover a period of no less than four years
jurisdictions. EPA and Homeland and allows the agency to make
Security, for example, each report to adjustments to the plan to reflect
over 70 committees and significant changes in its operating
subcommittees, often with differing environment. . . .”
priorities, so Congress will likely have
to find a way to coordinate internally in The new law also attempts to:
order to provide meaningful input. This
will only increase when the law’s “. . . ensure that agency goals align with
provisions for obtaining congressional broader federal efforts . . . and to
input on cross-agency goals become provide greater clarity regarding the
effective. impact of employee efforts on
overarching goals.” In addition, it
************************** “requires an agency to describe how it is
working with other agencies to achieve
1. Agency Strategic Plans its own goals and objectives, as well as
the crosscutting priority goals of the
The new law revises agency strategic federal government.”
planning requirements under the
Government Performance and Results Act The Senate committee report also notes
(GPRA) by changing when they are the law:
prepared to align with presidential terms of
office, requires greater cross-agency “. . . .strengthens the Congressional
alignment of goals and programs, and consultation process by encouraging
details the congressional consultation agencies to describe how agency goals
process in the development of the plans. and objectives incorporate the views and
suggestions obtained through consul-
According to the Senate committee tations with Congress. This legislation
report accompanying the new law: clarifies that the agency shall periodi-
cally consult with and obtain majority
“Under GPRA, an agency is currently and minority views from its authorizing,
required to develop a strategic plan at appropriations, and oversight commit-
least every three years to cover the tees when developing or making ad-
following five year period. This reporting justments to its strategic plan. It also
timeframe for updating strategic plans requires Congressional consultations
does not correspond to presidential occur at least once every two years. . . .”
terms. It makes little sense to require an
update of a strategic plan shortly before **************************
a new administration is scheduled to
take office, as changes in political 2. Agency Annual Performance
leadership often result in new objectives Plans
and can render preexisting plans
unuseful.” The new law revises agency annual
performance planning requirements under
The new law: GPRA by requiring a link between the
performance goals in the annual plan with
“. . . addresses this issue by modifying the goals in their strategic plans. The plans
the schedule for revising agency also must describe the strategies and
strategic plans to align with presidential resources agencies will use, and requires

the plans to cover a 2-year, rather than a 1- **************************
year period.
3. Agency Performance Updates
The Senate committee report notes:
The new law revises agency performance
“GPRA requires executive agencies to reporting requirements under GPRA by
develop annual performance plans shifting its emphasis from annual reporting
covering each program activity in the to more regular reporting. It also creates a
agencies’ budgets.” forcing mechanism that requires OMB to
take action on agency “unmet” goals.
It continues, noting that the new law:
According to the Senate committee
“. . . requires an agency to describe how report, the new law:
the performance goals contained in its
performance plan contribute to the goals “. . . requires agencies to provide a
and objectives established in the performance update at least annually,
agency’s strategic plan, as well as any occurring no later than 150 days after
overall federal government performance the end of the fiscal year. However,
goals. Additionally, this legislation agencies are encouraged to provide more
requires that an agency’s performance frequent updates that would provide
plan cover a two-year period, including significant value to the federal
both the current fiscal year and the next government, Congress, or – as noted in
one. Under existing law, an agency’s the statute: “. . . program partners at a
performance plan is only required to reasonable level of administrative
cover the next fiscal year.” burden.”

The new law requires agencies to OMB Assessment of Agency Perform-

provide a clear description of the ance. The new law also adds a new
strategies and resources they intend to “review and respond” process to the
use to implement their plan. According agency performance reporting cycle, for
to the Senate committee report, it: those goals judged by OMB as being
“. . . .requires an agency to provide
additional information about how the “Each fiscal year, the Office of Manage-
agency plans to achieve its performance ment and Budget shall determine
goals by identifying clearly defined whether the agency programs or
milestones, the agency officials activities meet performance goals and
responsible for ensuring each goal is objectives outlined in the agency per-
achieved, and the program activities, formance plans and submit a report on
regulations, policies and other activities unmet goals to—
that support each goal.” (1) the head of the agency;
The committee report continues, (2) the Committee on Homeland Security
noting: and Governmental Affairs of the Senate;
(3) the Committee on Oversight and
“This legislation also requires the Governmental Reform of the House of
agency to post its performance plan on Representatives; and
the agency website concurrent with the (4) the Government Accountability Office.
submission of the budget for the United
States Government.” If goals are unmet the first year. “If an
agency’s programs or activities have not

met performance goals as determined by submit recommendations to Congress on
the Office of Management and Budget actions to improve performance not later
for 1 fiscal year, the head of the agency than 60 days after that determination,
shall submit a performance improvement including—
plan to the Office of Management and (1) reauthorization proposals for each
Budget to increase program effec- program or activity that has not met
tiveness for each unmet goal with performance goals;
measurable milestones. The agency (2) proposed statutory changes neces-
shall designate a senior official who sary for the program activities to achieve
shall oversee the performance improve- the proposed level of performance on
ment strategies for each unmet goal. each performance goal; and
(3) planned executive actions or identifi-
If goals are unmet a second year. “If the cation of the program for termination or
Office of Management and Budget reduction in the President’s budget.’’
determines that agency programs or
activities have unmet performance goals **************************
for 2 consecutive fiscal years, the head
of the agency shall— 4. Governmentwide Annual Perform-
(A) submit to Congress a description of ance Plan
the actions the Administration will take
to improve performance, including pro- The original GPRA requires OMB to
posed statutory changes or planned develop a governmentwide annual per-
executive actions; and formance plan. OMB chose to designate
(B) describe any additional funding the the President’s budget as meeting that
agency will obligate to achieve the goal, requirement. Separately, GAO’s 2004 report
if such an action is determined recommended a governmentwide strategic
appropriate in consultation with the plan, but OMB saw that as infeasible. The
Director of the Office of Management and new law attempts another approach, and
Budget, for an amount determined requires consultation with Congress.
appropriate by the Director.”
According to the Senate committee
“In providing additional funding . . . . report, the new law creates specific
the head of the agency shall use any requirements for OMB by requiring
reprogramming or transfer authority that:
available to the agency. If after
exercising such authority additional • “. . .the plan establish performance
funding is necessary to achieve the level goals for each crosscutting federal
determined appropriate by the Director government priority goal;
of the Office of Management and Budget, • OMB identify the various agencies,
the head of the agency shall submit a organizations, program activities,
request to Congress for additional regulations, tax expenditures, poli-
reprogramming or transfer authority. cies and other activities that
contribute to each federal govern-
And if goals are not met a third year in a ment performance goal;
row. “If an agency’s programs or • a lead government official be as-
activities have not met performance signed for each federal government
goals as determined by the Office of performance goal;
Management and Budget for 3 consecu- • OMB establish common federal
tive fiscal years, the Director of the government performance indicators
Office of Management and Budget shall to measure and assess progress

across agencies toward shared updated or revised at least every four
goals; and years.”
• OMB identify government and cross-
agency management challenges and These goals would be included in the
plans to address such challenges.” governmentwide performance plan,
made available at the same time as the
These governmentwide annual perform- budget is submitted to Congress, and
ance plans would be submitted to posted on the governmentwide
Congress along with each budget. performance website created by this
According to the Senate committee
report, the new law: The law requires the Director of OMB to
consult with Congress on the
“enhances the existing requirements for development of the Federal Government
a federal government performance plan, priority goals: “. . . .including obtaining
establishes the development of federal majority and minority views from—
government priority goals, and requires
agencies to have their own priority goals • the Committees on Appropriations of
in order to achieve those federal the Senate and the House of
government priority goals. These three Representatives;
important measures, alongside require- • the Committees on the Budget of the
ments for quarterly progress reviews Senate and the House of Repre-
and web-based reporting, set up a sentatives;
government-wide strategic and plan- • the Committee on Homeland Secur-
ning process.” ity and Governmental Affairs of the
Federal Priority Goals. According to the • the Committee on Oversight and
Senate committee report, the new law: Government Reform of the House of
“. . . requires the Director of OMB to • the Committee on Finance of the
work with agencies to develop federal Senate;
government priority goals that aim to • the Committee on Ways and Means
improve performance and management of the House of Representatives; and
across the federal government. The • any other committees as determined
crosscutting policy goals are required to appropriate;
be outcome-oriented and limited in
number to ensure that there is ample “The Director of the Office of
focus on achieving these goals over time. Management and Budget shall consult
with the appropriate committees of
“The management-related goals should Congress at least once every 2 years.”
cover management functions where
significant improvements are needed Agency Priority Goals. According to the
across the federal government, such as Senate committee report, the new law
information technology, human capital, also:
and financial management. Recognizing
that achieving the federal government “. . . requires the head of each agency to
priority goals will require sustained identify agency priority goals from
focus over a period of time, the goals are among the agency’s performance goals.
required to be long-term in nature and The Director of OMB would have

authority to determine the total number priority goal, the head of the agency and
of agency priority goals across the the COO, with the support of the agency
federal government, as well as the PIO [performance improvement officer],
number of priority goals to be developed reviews the progress achieved during
by each agency. The Committee expects the most recent quarter and the
the total number of federal goals will not likelihood of meeting the performance
exceed 100 and agency goals will not target. The reviews should include the
exceed five per agency, while designated leader for each agency
acknowledging variation. . . . The priori- priority goal [to be known as a ‘goal
ty goals have a two-year timeframe.” leader’], and relevant personnel within
and external to the agency. The reviews
************************** should also highlight and strategize
regarding high risk areas—in other
5. Quarterly Priority Goal Progress word, where there is the greatest risk of
Reviews not meeting a priority goal.”

The new law includes new requirements for There are actually pilots of these kinds
quarterly reviews and progress assess- of reviews already underway. Govern-
ments of governmentwide and agency-level mentwide, there are the TechStat meet-
priority goals. ings being held by the governmentwide
Chief Information Officer, and in some
Federal Priority Goal Reviews. Accord- government agencies, most notably in
ing to the Senate committee report, the the FDA, which calls its reviews FDA
new law: TRACK. (See the IBM Center report on
Baltimore’s CitiStat to understand the
“. . . attempts to lay out a process for model.)
reviewing progress towards the federal
government priority goals on, at **************************
minimum, a quarterly basis. For each
federal government priority goal, the 6. Governance of Overall Perform-
Director of OMB should review the ance System
progress achieved during the most
recent quarter and the likelihood of The new law codifies an existing govern-
meeting the performance target. ance framework for performance across
government by designating chief operating
“As a part of these reviews, the Director officers in each major agency and requiring
of OMB and the PIC [Performance the designation of program improvement
Improvement Council] must categorize officers in each agency. It also authorizes a
the federal government priority goals governmentwide performance improvement
according to the risk of not meeting council and requires a governmentwide
performance targets, and for those at performance website.
greatest risk, identify strategies to
improve performance.” After the original GPRA was adopted in
1993, President Clinton designated the
Agency-Level Priority Goal Reviews. deputy secretaries as their depart-
The new law: ment’s “chief operating officers” respon-
sible for overall management and
“. . .provides an analogous review performance issues, and this was
process at each agency required to continued by subsequent adminis-
develop priority goals. For each agency trations. President George W. Bush in

2007 issued an executive order develop a single governmentwide
requiring major agencies to designate a performance website by [October 1,]
“performance improvement officer.” 2012 that will feature performance
This new law formalizes these positions information outlined in the bill and
and designations. provided by the agency. The bill further
requires that OMB issue guidance to
Governmentwide Council. The PIOs agencies on providing performance
will meet regularly under the auspices information for publication on this
of OMB as the Performance Improve- website. In addition, agencies are
ment Council (PIC). The new law required to produce all strategic plans,
defines some specific duties for the performance plans, and performance
Council, including: reports in searchable, machine-readable
formats beginning in fiscal year 2012.”
• “work to resolve specific Govern-
mentwide or crosscutting perform- **************************
ance issues, as necessary;
7. Other Implementation Provisions
• facilitate the exchange among
agencies of practices that have led to The new law includes other new imple-
performance improvements within mentation actions, as well. For example,
specific programs, agencies, or OPM must identify key skills and
across agencies; competencies for performance manage-
ment; new definitions of terms; agency chief
• coordinate with other interagency human capital officers have to prepare the
management councils; . . . . section of their agency’s annual
performance plan describing the skills and
• consider the performance improve- competencies needed to meet agencies’
ment experiences of corporations, goals described in the plans.
nonprofit organizations, foreign,
State, and local governments, Gov- The new law contains a number of
ernment employees, public sector other implementation provisions worth
unions, and customers of Govern- highlighting:
ment services. “
• Skills and competencies to be set.
The law also allows the Council to OPM must identify, “. . . in
develop an interagency staff: consultation with the PIC, to identify
key skills and competencies related
“The heads of agencies with Perform- to performance management in the
ance Improvement Officers serving on federal government not later than
the Council shall, as appropriate and to one year after the enactment date of
the extent permitted by law, provide at this Act. Not later than two years
the request of the chairperson of the after the enactment of this Act, the
Performance Improvement Council up to Director of OPM must incorporate
2 personnel authorizations to serve at such skills and competencies into
the direction of the chairperson.’’ relevant position classifications and
agency training.”
Governmentwide Performance Website.
The Senate committee report states • Use of Balanced Measures re-
that the new law: “. . . requires OMB to quired. Agency performance plans
must “. . . establish a balanced set of

performance indicators to be used in formance reviews on progress
measuring or assessing progress towards their priority goals outlined
toward each performance goal, in the FY 2011 budget for the
including, as appropriate, customer quarter ending June 30, 2011.
service, efficiency, output, and
outcome indicators. . . .” • Eliminate obsolete mandated con-
gressional reports. And in the
• CHCHO role in goal achievement. continuing tradition of eliminating
Agency chief human capital officers “obsolete” congressionally mandated
must “. . . provide a description of reports, the new law tries again to
how the [agency’s] performance goals do what the 1982 Congressional
are to be achieved, including – the Reports Elimination Act, the Federal
operation processes, training, skills Reports Elimination and Sunset Act
and technology, and the human, of 1995, and the Reports Consoli-
capital, information, and other dation Act of 2000 failed to do.
resources and strategies required to
meet those goals. . . “ • Implementation cost estimates.
According to the Senate committee
• Plans to be revised in one year. report, the Congressional Budget
Agency strategic and performance Office estimates that compliance
plans for FY 2013 must be revised with the provisions in this new law
to reflect the requirements under would require about $1 million in
this law by February 6, 2012. new resources, per major agency.

• First agency quarterly reviews to

be completed soon. Agencies must
conduct their first quarterly per-

References Strategy (Washington, DC: IBM Center for The
Business of Government) 2007.
U.S. Congress, Government Performance and
Results Act of 1993, Public Law 103-62. George W. Bush, Improving Government Program
Performance, Executive Order 13450, November
U.S. Congress, GPRA Modernization Act of 2010, 13, 2007.
Public Law 111-352.
Prepared by John M. Kamensky, Senior Fellow,
U.S. Senate Committee on Homeland Security IBM Center for The Business of Government.
and Governmental Affairs, Committee Report to
Accompany H.R. 2142, Report No. 111-372,
December 16, 2010. (202) 551-9341

U.S. Government Accountability Office, Results-

Oriented Government: GPRA Has Established a
Solid Foundation for Achieving Greater Results,
(Washington, DC) March 2004, GAO-04-38.

Shelley Metzenbaum, Performance Management

Recommendations for the New Administration,
(Washington, DC: IBM Center for The Business 600 14th Street, NW
of Government) 2009. Second Floor,
Washington, DC 20005
Robert Behn, What All Mayors Would Like to
Know About Baltimore’s Citi-Stat Performance