Government Performance Results Act of 1993
GPRA requires agencies to develop a 5-year Strategic Plan, which should be updated at least every 3 years. GPRA also states that the Strategic Plan must include: (1) a mission statement, (2) general goals and objectives, (3) a description of how the goals and objectives will be achieved, and (4) a description of how the performance goals relate to the general goals and objectives. GPRA requires annual performance plans that:
establish performance goals for program activities,
establish key indicators that define how progress toward each performance goal is measured,
outline all resources required to meet the performance goals, and
describe how the measured values are verified and validated.
GPRA requires annual performance reports on program performance for the previous fiscal year. The performance report compares actual performance achieved to the performance goals set in the performance plan. In addition, the report reviews successes in achieving performance goals and analyzes the reasons performance goals were not met. Finally, the report must include plans for achieving the performance goals that were not met.
The Reports Consolidation Act of 2000
The Reports Consolidation Act of 2000 encourages the consolidation of financial and performance reports, in order to present information in a useful format for Congress, the President, and the public. Through consolidation, information can be shared efficiently and presented clearly.
OMB Circular A-11
OMB Circular A-11, Section 230, Preparing and Submitting the Performance Portion of the Performance and Accountability Report, 2005, provides guidance on the preparation of the PAR, the contents of the PAR, and the submission of the PAR to the President and Congress. OMB Circular A-11 states, “The annual performance report required by GPRA provides information on your agency's actual performance and progress in achieving the goals in your strategic plan and performance budget.”
Specifically, OMB Circular A-11 requires that the following be included in the PAR:
- A comparison of actual performance with the projected (target) levels of performance as set out in the performance goals in the agency's annual performance budget (or annual performance plan for fiscal years prior to FY 2006);
- An explanation, where a performance goal was not achieved, and why the goal was not met;
- A description of the plans and schedules to meet an unmet goal in the future, or alternative recommended action regarding an unmet goal where you have concluded it is impractical or infeasible to achieve that goal;
- An evaluation of your performance budget for the current fiscal year, taking into account the actual performance achieved;
- An assessment of the reliability and completeness of the performance data included in the performance report; and
- Actual performance information for at least four fiscal years.
In order to be complete, performance data must address all key indicators in the performance plan and include any available performance data. In the absence of actual data, preliminary data or estimates may be provided. For key indicators that have no data available, the report should note when the data will be available.
OMB Circular A-11 states:
Performance data need not be perfect to be reliable, particularly if the cost and effort to secure the best performance data possible will exceed the value of any data so obtained. Agencies must discuss in their assessments of the completeness and reliability of the performance data any limitations on the reliability of the data. Additionally, agencies should discuss in their PARs efforts underway to improve the completeness and reliability of future performance information as well as any audits, studies, or evaluations that attest to the quality of current data or data collection efforts.
OMB Circular A-136
The purpose of OMB Circular A-136, Revised, Financial Reporting Requirements, July 2006, is to establish a single reference on all federal financial reporting guidance for entities required to submit audited financial statements, interim financial statements, and PARs. A submitting agency's PAR must contain the following:
Agency Head Message
Management's Discussion and Analysis (PAR Section 1)
Performance Section (PAR Section 2)
Financial Section (PAR Section 3)
Other Accompanying Information (PAR Section 4)
Our audit focused on PAR Sections 1 and 2 above. Section 1 contains a “performance goals, objectives, and results” section, which “should summarize the key performance measures reported in the Performance Section of the PAR [Section 2].” Section 1 should highlight actual entity performance compared to targeted performance goals and indicators in the strategic and performance plan. Entities should discuss achievements and evaluate any failure to meet established targets. OMB Circular A‑136 states that “Entities are encouraged to provide in the PAR information to help the reader assess the relative efficiency and effectiveness of entity programs/operations.”
Section 2, the “Performance Section,” includes the elements previously bulleted under OMB Circular A-11 and provides further detail, while Section 1 highlights the performance information.