Carper Subcommittee Explores How Better Performance Management Can Cut Wasteful Spending, Help Next President

WASHINGTON –The federal government needs to focus less on process and more on producing cost-effective results for the American taxpayers, Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.) said in opening his congressional oversight hearing today.

Sen. Carper, chairman of the Senate Subcommittee on Federal Financial Management, Government Information, Federal Services and International Security, called today’s hearing to highlight examples of how information that measures federal agency performance can best be used to root out waste and improve customer service, and how these successful management examples can create a blueprint for the next administration to follow.

“No matter who our next president is, when he takes office in January, he will face soaring federal deficits,” said Sen. Carper. “We have a responsibility to be better stewards of taxpayer dollars and to ensure that our limited federal resources are managed honestly and effectively.”

Today’s hearing, “Improving Federal Program Management Using Performance Information,” examined how the federal government can provide better services to its citizens by using a performance-based management structure focused on getting results.  

“Producing performance information does not, by itself, improve performance,” said Sen. Carper. “But when used effectively, federal agencies can use performance information to identify problems, find solutions, and develop new approaches that make our government more effective in meeting the needs and concerns of all Americans.”

Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley opened the hearing with testimony about his CitiStat and StateStat programs, which have used performance information to make government operations more effective in the City of Baltimore and in the state of Maryland. Gov. O’Malley’s management programs have eliminated millions in wasteful spending and now provide a solid example for the federal government to follow.

“Amid all the cynicism and against a current of popular thinking that said government should be made as weak as possible, we advanced our governing philosophy, based on the revolutionary idea that government could work,” Gov. O’Malley told the subcommittee members. “We launched StateStat, and like its parent initiative in Baltimore, CitiStat, it can be summed up in a simple phrase: the rational application of human effort to the solving of human problems.”

Other hearing witnesses included Don Kettl, a renowned public management expert and author, who explained how officials can begin to ‘fix’ problems with certain government management structures. In addition, representatives from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration and the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs – three agencies identified as greatly improving their performance-oriented agency culture since 2000 – testified on their achievements and how they continue to successfully address the management challenges they face.

The Government Accountability Office (GAO) also released a study today requested by Sen. Carper and subcommittee Ranking Member Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) that outlines how federal agencies use performance data. The GAO study found that while there has been some improvement at individual agencies, overall the use of performance information at federal agencies has not increased.

“We need to move away from how these management tools can be used in theory, and begin to actually put them into practice to improve the federal government,” said Sen. Carper. “It’s time we focused on the results that Americans need and deserve. Given the nation’s long-term fiscal outlook and grave concerns about a growing federal deficit and national debt, it is imperative that taxpayer dollars are spent wisely.”

Today’s hearing follows up on another Homeland Security and Governmental AffairsSubcommittee hearing that Sen. Carper held last month which focused on the dire fiscal situation our country faces in the coming years. Over the next two decades, 80 million baby boomers will become eligible for Social Security and Medicare. Today, these two programs already make up more than 40 percent of the government’s total expenses. As boomers start to draw benefits, some experts told the Subcommittee, the share of these programs could equal, within just 40 years, what the entire government spends today.

“Without any changes to the system, we will not have the funds needed to invest in such national concerns as education, energy or roads, not to mention pressing national security needs,” said Sen. Carper. “There is only so much pie to go around, so how we determine who gets the next slice, and how big that slice will be, will become more and more important to Americans in the years to come.”