March, 2009

Has GPRA Increased the Availability and Use of Performance Information?

  • Jerry Ellig

    Research Professor, George Washington University Regulatory Studies Center
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The underlying logic of the Government Performance and Results Act (GPRA) suggests that programs should be evaluated based on empirical evidence that they actually produce the intended outcomes. This study applies the same logic to GPRA itself, investigating empirically whether GPRA may have increased the availability and use of performance information in federal agencies.

Better GPRA performance reporting is correlated with greater availability and use of several kinds of performance information by federal managers in the programs and operations they supervise. The results are statistically significant and relatively large. Correlations are especially significant for types of activities GPRA sought to encourage, such as output and outcome measures and use of performance information to allocate resources, set priorities, and develop measures and goals. These findings are consistent with the theory that GPRA has indeed prompted improvements in the availability and use of performance information in the federal government.