10th Annual Performance Report Scorecard: Which Federal Agencies Best Inform the Public?

This Scorecard ranks the quality of disclosure of the Performance and Accountability Reports of the 24 agencies covered by the Chief Financial Officers Act. Our research team looks at criteria in three areas.

The Government Performance and Results Act of 1993 requires agencies to produce strategic plans, annual performance plans, and annual performance reports. Fiscal year 2008 marks the tenth year agencies have produced annual performance reports. For fiscal year 2008, nine agencies again opted for a “pilot” format that allowed them to publish performance information separately from financial information and produce a shorter “citizens’ report” summarizing the two.

Researchers at the Mercatus Center at George Mason University initiated the Scorecard series in fiscal year 1999 to foster continuous improvement in the quality of disclosure in agencies’ annual performance reports. This study is thus our tenth annual evaluation of the performance and accountability reports produced by the 24 agencies covered under the Chief Financial Officers Act. We employed the same criteria used in previous Scorecards. Our scoring process evaluates (1) how transparently an agency discloses its successes and failures, (2) how well an agency documents the tangible public benefits it claims to have produced, and (3) whether an agency demonstrates forward-looking leadership that uses annual performance information to devise strategies for improvement. An expert team evaluated each report on 12 criteria—4 each for transparency, public benefits, and leadership.

Key findings this year include:

  • Best reporting practices by agencies have improved substantially over the past decade. The average quality of performance reporting may have improved by about 75 percent since fiscal year 1999.
  • Pilot format reverses losses, as average scores of pilot agencies increased by 9 percent, almost completely reversing their drop in fiscal year 2007.
  • Average scores increased by 1.5 points, but 60 percent of federal spending remains covered by “unsatisfactory” reporting for fiscal 2008.

To download only a section of the report instead of the full document  the top of the page, please click on one of the links below.

Part I: Executive Summary and Rankings
Part II: Introduction and Scoring Standards
Part III: Update on the Pilot Format 
Part IV: Do Some Agencies Have Inherent Advantages?
Part V: Strongest and Weakest Scores 
Part VI: Agency by Agency Scoring Summaries
Part VII: Scoring Methodology Appendix, Research Team and Project Design 

Related Links:

Dr. Jerry Ellig's Presentation (Powerpoint from the release event)
Video coverage of release event on YouTube: