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House kills bill to improve agency performance

Dec. 17, 2010 - 06:08PM   |  
By SEAN REILLY   |   Comments
Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.) speaks during the 2008 Democratic National Convention at the Pepsi Center in Denver on Aug. 26, 2008.
Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.) speaks during the 2008 Democratic National Convention at the Pepsi Center in Denver on Aug. 26, 2008. (The Indianapolis Star via Gannett)

After sailing through the Senate on Thursday night, a bill to update the 1993 Government Performance and Results Act failed in the House on Friday.

The legislation received a majority of votes cast, but failed to clear the two-thirds margin needed to pass legislation under a suspension of House rules.

Although an earlier version of the bill had won House approval in June, the Senate then stripped out most Republican contributions, said Frederick Hill, a spokesman for Rep. Darrell Issa, a California Republican who will chair the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee next year.

"The opinion was that [the Senate-approved bill] was really not going to be an effective bill," Hill said, adding that it would have served as "window dressing" for current White House initiatives and tied the hands of future administrations. Holding off until next year will achieve "a better accountability mechanism," he said.

Under the bill, federal agencies would have had to designate chief operating officers and performance improvement officers responsible for saving money through "improved analysis and coordination of duplicative programs," according to a news release from one of the Senate sponsors, Mark Warner, D-Va.

The bill, known as the 2010 Government Performance and Results Modernization Act, would also have required agencies to post program performance scorecards on a single public website on a quarterly basis, the release said.

It set a first-year goal of a 10 percent reduction in the number of written reports required by previous Congresses and presidential administrations that are little used or obsolete. As Federal Times has previously reported, agency officials sometimes have to compile massive reports that are outdated as soon as they are printed.

"Taxpayers fund 44 separate programs in nine different federal departments that support workforce training, and we also pay for 17 separate initiatives across seven federal departments that deal with food safety," Warner said in the release. "We need a better system a system that allows us to review the results of each program and evaluate its impact in addressing overall policy goals, whether it's the important work of retraining people who've lost their jobs or ensuring the safety of the food we eat."

The Obama administration has already created its own website, performance.gov, to track agency progress in meeting high-priority goals laid out in the administration's 2011 budget request. The site, available to federal managers since August, was supposed to open to the public this year. That move has now been delayed to "kick the tires a little more" and to get agency feedback, Office of Management and Budget spokeswoman Moira Mack said Friday.

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