May, 2009

Federal Performance Reporting After 10 Years: How Does it Measure Up?

  • Jerry Ellig

    Research Professor, George Washington University Regulatory Studies Center
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Since fiscal year 1999, the Government Performance and Results Act (GPRA) has required federal agencies to issue annual performance reports that measure the outcomes of federal programs. A research team from the Mercatus Center at George Mason University assesses these reports each year to see how well they inform Congress and the public. During the past decade, the quality of performance reporting has improved substantially. In spite of that improvement, only 7 percent of federal spending is covered by reports rated "very good." This result suggests that the United States is still a long way from attaining full transparency for the outcomes of most federal spending. Without such transparency, accountability cannot be achieved.