Streamlining Government: Opportunities Exist to Strengthen OMB's Approach to Improving Efficiency Page: 52 of 73
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much, additional resources are allocated on the condition that the
programs will be rigorously evaluated going forward. Third, the approach
encourages agencies to innovate and to test ideas with strong potential-
ideas supported by preliminary research findings or reasonable
hypotheses. We have previously reported on how program evaluations
can contribute to more useful and informative performance reports
through assisting program managers in developing valid and reliable
performance reporting and filling gaps in needed program information,
such as establishing program impact and reasons for observed
performance and addressing policy questions that extend beyond or
across program borders.84
In addition to program evaluations that determine program impact or
outcomes, we have identified cost-effectiveness analysis as a means to
assess the cost of meeting a single goal or objective, which can be used to
identify the least costly alternative for meeting that goal. In addition cost-
benefit analysis aims to identify all relevant costs and benefits, usually
expressed in dollar terms.85 Given the challenges program managers we
interviewed cited in developing and using outcome-based efficiency
measures, such evaluations might fill gaps in understanding the cost of
achieving outcomes and allow for cost comparisons across alternative
program strategies intended to produce the same results.
GPRA's focus on strategic planning, development of long-term goals, and
accountability for results provides a framework that Congress, OMB, and
executive branch agencies could use to promote and apply various
approaches to achieving efficiency gains in federal agencies. Congress
enacted GPRA in part to address waste and inefficiency in federal
programs. Agencies could use strategic plans as a vehicle for identifying
longer-term efficiency improvement goals and strategies for achieving
them. They could use annual performance plans to describe performance
goals designed to contribute to longer-term efficiency goals, and annual
performance and accountability reports to monitor progress toward
achieving annual or longer-term efficiency goals.
84GAO, Program Evaluation: Studies Helped Agencies Measure or Explain Program
Performance, GAO/GGD-00-204 (Washington, D.C.: Sept. 29, 2000).
sGAO, Performance Measurement and Evaluation: Definitions and Relationships,
GAO-05-739SP (Washington, D.C.: May 2005).
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/m1/52/: accessed May 23, 2019), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, https://digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.