The American people are entitled to know what benefits they have received from their government's activities, and annual performance reports are one avenue for agencies to communicate this information to citizens and policymakers. The purpose of this scorecard is to encourage improvement in the quality of reporting on results achieved by government agencies. We do this by evaluating and ranking
- How transparently an agency reports its successes and failures,
- How well an agency documents the tangible public benefits it claims to have produced,
- Whether an agency demonstrates leadership that uses annual performance information to devise strategies for improvement.
By assessing the quality of agency reports (but not the quality of the results achieved), we wish to learn which agencies are supplying the information that Congress and the public need to make informed funding and policy decisions. The importance of quality reporting has taken on added significance in light of the Bush Administration's indication that it intends to use agency performance information to make its budget decisions for fiscal year (FY) 2003 and subsequent years.
Researchers at the Mercatus Center at George Mason University conducted our third annual evaluation of the reports produced by 22 of the 24 agencies covered under the Chief Financial Officers Act, using the same criteria we have used in the past to evaluate the FY 2001 performance reports. Though our criteria are the same, our evaluative standards tighten each year, consistent with a belief that agencies should be learning from previous reporting successes and failures-both their own as well as those of other agencies.