Streamlining Government: Opportunities Exist to Strengthen OMB's Approach to Improving Efficiency Page: 32 of 73
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efficiency measures for some programs.47 However, we also reported that
agencies had mixed success in reaching agreement with OMB in these
As mentioned above, of the 21 measures from selected programs that had
typical elements of an efficiency measure, 13 contained outputs, and 8
contained outcomes. While OMB's PART guidance described efficiency
measures as including both outcome- and output-level impacts, it stated
that the best efficiency measures captured outcomes. Further, program
officials told us that OMB pressed some programs to have efficiency
measures that captured outcomes instead of outputs.
Similar to findings from our prior work, some officials we interviewed for
this review said it was difficult for their programs to interpret outcome-
level efficiency measure information, because factors other than program
funding affected the outcome of the program. For example, the purpose of
the Forest Service's Watershed program is to restore, enhance, and
maintain watershed conditions, including soil, water, air, and forest and
rangeland vegetation within the national forests and grasslands.
Management of these physical and biological resources provides a
foundation for healthy, viable ecosystems.48 The Watershed program
received a "Results Not Demonstrated" rating from the OMB 2006 PART
assessment process because it lacked long-term, outcome-based
performance and efficiency measures to track the performance of land
management activities on national forest and nonfederal watersheds, or
demonstrated water quality improvement over time. Basically, the Forest
Service was unable to track how watershed projects were prioritized,
identify the benefits associated with restoration projects, and determine
whether those projects improved watershed condition. Officials said they
had previously proposed the unit cost of watershed improvement projects
as an efficiency measure under PART, but OMB rejected it partly because
48The Forest Service has clear authority to manage a broad spectrum of watershed activities
on the national forests and to encourage the long-term stewardship of non-industrial
private forestlands which contribute significantly to the health and productivity of the
nation's watersheds. The Watershed program as delineated for the PART assessment
encompassed the functional watershed program in the Watershed, Fish, Wildlife, Air, and
Rare Plants Staff (WFW) and all Forest Service activities that contributed to improved
watershed condition (e.g., vegetation management, reforestation, range management,
wildlife and fisheries improvements, road decommissioning, etc.). It included at least 17
specific budget line items linked to meeting the goal of improving watershed condition
from the Forest Service's Strategic Plan for Fiscal Years 2004-2008.
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/m1/32/: accessed May 25, 2019), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, https://digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.