President Signs Sen. Carper’s Government Accountability & Cost-Savings Bill into Law

WASHINGTON – Today, President Obama signed into law legislation to require federal agencies to identify overlapping federal programs, figure out ways to eliminate them and pass the financial savings onto taxpayers. The Government Performance and Results Modernization Act (S.3853), which passed the Senate and House last month, was originally introduced by Sens. Tom Carper (D-Del.), Mark R. Warner (D-Va.) and Daniel Akaka (D-Hawaii) and co-sponsored by Sens. Joseph Lieberman (ID-Conn.), Susan Collins (R-Maine) and George Voinovich (R-Ohio). The new law will make government work better by requiring the federal government to set clear goals that can be measured and reported to Congress and the American people in a more transparent way. It is the first significant update of the Government Performance and Results Act (GPRA) of 1993 in nearly two decades.

“The President’s signing of the Government Performance and Results Modernization Act clearly shows that effective, responsible government reform remains a top priority for Congress and this Administration,” said Sen. Carper, chairman of the Senate Subcommittee on Federal Financial Management. “Given the nation’s mind boggling federal budget deficit, we need a clear and honest picture of how taxpayer dollars are being spent. It is imperative that we use taxpayer dollars to their fullest advantage so that the government can continue to meet the growing needs of the American people. This law strengthens and improves the Government Performance and Results Act of 1993 to not only show what they’re doing with taxpayers’ money, but also show what the American people are actually getting out of it. I thank my colleagues in the Senate and the House for backing this law, and I’d like to extend special gratitude to Sen. Voinovich whose tireless dedication to this issue continues to make a positive impact even after his retirement from the Senate.

“At a time of budget deficits and crippling national debt, the Government Performance and Results Modernization Act takes several significant steps to make the federal government work smarter and look for ways to save taxpayer money,” said Sen. Warner, Chair of the Senate Budget Committee’s Task Force on Government Performance. “This legislation also takes a first step in supporting a key recommendation from the President’s Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform to increase reporting on government-wide cross-cutting priorities, require agencies to identify low priorities and provide new data to identify duplicative federal programs.”

“Congress has a responsibility to make sure that federal agencies use taxpayer dollars wisely while carrying out their critical missions,” said Sen. Akaka, chairman of the Senate Subcommittee on Oversight of Government Management. “As an original cosponsor of GPRA, I believe the time has come to refine and enhance this landmark bill. This legislation will strengthen GPRA to require that the federal government adopt a more strategic and collaborative approach towards improving agency performance, and I applaud the President for signing it into law.”

“The President is signing a bill of enormous importance, particularly in these trying economic times,” said Sen. Lieberman. “We in government are obligated to assure the taxpayers that their government is being managed as efficiently as it can be and achieving its goals. This is even more critical in times of economic distress and vast budget deficits. The reforms contained in this bill will help federal agencies plan, measure and report their outcomes, and thus the legislation goes to the heart of improving agency performance and holding agencies accountable for attaining measureable results.”

“Improving the effectiveness of government programs must always be a priority,” said Sen. Collins. “But the importance of this issue is particularly relevant when our economy is struggling and the government must tighten its fiscal belt. Taking a page from the private sector, our bill requires agencies to appoint a chief operating officer to manage the development and effectiveness of government programs. This legislation would increase the transparency of government priorities, goals, and plans, and help ensure that these strategic efforts are not a feckless paperwork exercise but meaningful tools to promote efficiency and effectiveness in day-to-day operations.”

The Government Performance and Results Modernization Act of 2010 (GPRMA) requires the federal government to set government-wide goals and make sure programs from different agencies work together to reduce overlap and duplication. Each agency will be required designate a Chief Operating Officer and a Performance Improvement Officer, with the primary responsibility for pursuing cost-savings through the improved coordination of duplicative programs. These officials also would be held responsible for considering taxpayer savings through better coordination of administrative functions common to every agency, including purchasing.

The law further enhances transparency by requiring federal agencies to post performance data and short description of how they have been met, on a single public website. Progress towards these goals will be updated every quarter. These reports will provide an easily accessible, big picture account of the federal government, allowing for Congress and the public to better see inefficiencies and overlaps between programs that undermine priority goals. The new law also sets an ambitious first-year goal of an overall 10-percent reduction in the total number of little-used or outdated reports mandated by previous Administrations and Congresses.