Streamlining Government: Opportunities Exist to Strengthen OMB's Approach to Improving Efficiency Page: 28 of 73
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costs that was experienced throughout the country in 2008 and was
beyond their control. Several fishery stations reported 40 percent
increases in feed costs in just 1 year. Officials told us that having
information about the decline in efficiency was valuable because it led
individual stations to look for opportunities to lower other costs of
production that were within their control. For example, program managers
said they used their efficiency measure data to help them decide to phase
out the production of inefficient (more costly) strains of trout. In addition,
they said they used the measure to help manage the losses resulting from
diseased trout that could not be sold by shifting production from one
fishery to another that did not have a problem with disease. Officials said
they thought it was easier for programs that directly produced products or
provided services to develop and use efficiency measures. They said they
had a relatively easy time of developing their efficiency measure because
they directly produce a product (i.e., rainbow trout).
The Department of the Interior's Wildland Fire Management Program
reported mixed efficiency results. Of their three efficiency measures, two
showed a net loss and one showed a net gain. Even though the results
were mixed, officials said they used the data to establish ranges of
acceptable cost estimates for contract or grant proposals and to identify
outliers. Officials said their efficiency measures, which tracked numbers
of wildland acres treated or moved to a better condition class (to reduce
the likelihood of wildland fires) per million dollars, enabled them to
identify unusually high or low costs when evaluating proposals from field
units for funding treatments. They could identify a proposal that did not
fall within the normal range of prior projects in terms of costs, do further
analysis, and ask for explanations from field staff to better understand
why the proposal was outside the norm. Program officials also said they
used a tool called Ecosystem Management Decision Support (EMDS) to
help prioritize projects and allocate funding for future years. They said
EMDS takes into account various factors, including past performance and
efficiency. For example, fuel treatments that demonstrated greater
efficiency would be given higher priority for funding under EMDS, other
factors being equal.
While FAA's Air Traffic Organization Technical Operations program's
efficiency measure showed a net gain, officials said they did not use it to
make major decisions. ATO Technical Operations is responsible for
maintaining and modernizing equipment needed in the national airspace
system to deliver air traffic services. It fields, repairs, and maintains a huge
network of complex equipment, including radars, instrument landing
systems, radio beacons, runway lighting, and computer systems. The
GAO-10-394 Streamlining Government
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United States. Government Accountability Office. Streamlining Government: Opportunities Exist to Strengthen OMB's Approach to Improving Efficiency, report, May 7, 2010; Washington D.C.. (https://digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc302236/m1/28/: accessed May 24, 2019), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, https://digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.