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Senators urge more progress on government performance

Feb. 10, 2012 - 06:00AM   |  
By SEAN REILLY   |   Comments

Three Democratic senators are faulting the Obama administration for failing to fully carry out a law aimed at tracking and improving government performance.

"Significant statutory requirements … have not yet received adequate focus," Sens. Daniel Akaka, D-Hawaii, Tom Carper, D-Del., and Mark Warner, D-Va., told acting Office of Management and Budget Director Jeffrey Zients in a letter sent Thursday. The lawmakers were sponsors of the Government Performance and Results Modernization Act, which President Obama signed into law last year.

The law requires, for example, that OMB track agencies' performance on a website, performance.gov. That website was publicly launched last summer, but it lacks key information required by the new statute, the senators wrote in a five-page analysis attached to their letter. Among the missing information: priority government performance goals at risk of not being achieved and planned improvement strategies.

The three lawmakers also said OMB should publicize agencies' progress reports due every three months. OMB asserts the reports are for "internal deliberation" only and not to be released outside the executive branch.

Agencies "must work together and with Congress to achieve shared goals and provide greater transparency for agency plans and reports," Akaka said in a statement.

Carper commended the administration for making the act a priority, but added that "there is room for improvement to make sure this bill is implemented to its full potential."

A Zients spokeswoman did not respond to emailed requests for comment.

The three senators are all closely involved with the mechanics of federal operations. Akaka and Carper chair Senate subcommittees on government oversight and financial management, respectively, while Warner heads a Senate Budget Committee task force on government performance.

In urging changes to performance.gov, the senators touted another website, "Virginia Performs" a site developed during Warner's tenure as the state's governor as a model for how "a comprehensive, transparent performance management web site can … enhance the public's understanding of how their government is working for them."

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