Enacted in 2010, the Government Performance and Results Act (GPRA) Modernization Act provides the foundation by which Federal agencies are held accountable for establishing management processes and setting performance goals and objectives that deliver results for the American taxpayer.
Designed to help focus agencies on their highest priorities and create a culture where data and empirical evidence plays a greater role in policy, budget, and management decisions, the law also created transparent roles and responsibilities for ensuring leadership engagement – one of the most important aspects of any effective performance management system. The Act codified and strengthened existing resources for performance management, including the creation of the Chief Operating Officer (COO) and Performance Improvement Officers (PIO) within the federal agencies, and the establishment of the interagency Performance Improvement Council (PIC).
The Federal performance framework rests on a few proven management practices:
Engaging senior managers,
Defining success through strategic planning and priority goal setting,
Focusing on a limited number of priority goals,
Regular, data-driven performance reviews that incorporate a broad range of qualitative and quantitative indicators and evidence, and
Strengthening agency management capabilities, collaboration, coordination, and knowledge for managing programs more effectively and efficiently.
Goal setting forces the coordination of priorities and resources, clarifying what success is, communicating priorities, and motivating Federal managers to tackle pressing management challenges. Through a combination of long-term and near-term goal setting, the Administration focuses its efforts on implementing a limited number of actionable goal strategies to advance the well-being of the American people. This goal setting entails:
Cross-Agency Priority Goals: Presidential priorities which are long-term in nature that require interagency coordination to overcome pressing management challenges.
Agency Priority Goals: The Department heads of major Federal agencies set approximately 4 to 5 goals that reflect the top near-term, implementation-focused priorities to be achieved over the next two years.
Strategic Objectives: The long-term objectives, outcomes, and impacts an agency hopes to accomplish throughout the term of the Administration.
OMB policy and guidance to Federal agencies for implementing the GPRA Modernization Act can be found in OMB Circular A-11, Part 6.
Cross-Agency Priority Goals
Cross-Agency Priority (CAP) Goals are a tool used by leadership to coordinate and promote progress on a limited number of Presidential priority areas where implementation requires active collaboration among multiple agencies. Long-term in nature, CAP Goals drive cross-government collaboration to tackle government-wide management challenges affecting most agencies. As a subset of Presidential priorities, CAP Goals are used to implement the President’s Management Agenda and are complemented by other cross-agency coordination and goal-setting efforts. CAP Goals are updated or revised every four years with each Presidential Administration’s term.
When CAP goals have achieved a level of maturity and implementation that enables those teams to (a) demonstrate and scale the impact and (b) institutionalize these reforms, it becomes appropriate to refocus their activities from planning toward demonstrating results. As such, these goals will continue to be tracked on Performance.gov, but reporting will shift from detailed milestones and action planning to reporting on implementation outcomes. The re-categorization of these goals will be noted on each CAP goal page.
Agency Priority Goals
Agency Priority Goals (APGs) are a performance accountability structure of the GPRA Modernization Act that provides agencies a mechanism to focus leadership priorities, set outcomes, and measure results, bringing focus to mission areas where agencies need to drive significant progress and change. APG statements are outcome-oriented, ambitious, and measurable with specific targets set that reflect a near-term result or achievement agency leadership wants to accomplish within approximately 24 months.
Agency leaders from major Federal agencies select approximately four to five goals every two years, identify responsible officials for goal achievement, and review performance on a quarterly basis to identify barriers to progress and make changes to implementation strategies to achieve goal outcomes. APGs to be achieved throughout the course of Fiscal Years 2022-2023 have been established by major Federal agencies concurrent with the release of the President’s FY 2023 Budget.
More information on the Agency Priority Goals established by major Federal agencies can be found by navigating to each agency’s homepage through the agency dropdown in the menu bar below or at the top of the page.
Strategic Objectives and Annual Reviews of Progress
Strategic Objectives. Updated and revised every four years, Strategic Objectives reflect the outcome or management impacts the agency is trying to achieve over the term of an Administration. They express the results or direction the agency will work to achieve to make progress on its mission. Strategic Objectives advance the long-term outcomes identified in the Agency Strategic Plan, and are supported by more specific performance goals and indicators. Annually, agency leaders conduct a Strategic Review that assesses agency progress on achieving the mission, service, stewardship, and other crosscutting strategic objectives in the Agency Strategic Plan, and uses relative assessments to categorize a subset of strategic objectives. Concurrent with the release of the President’s FY 2023 Budget, Federal agencies established new strategic objectives spanning 2022 through 2026.
Agency Strategic Plans and strategic objectives can be found by navigating to each agency’s homepage.
Strategic Reviews to Assess Progress on Strategic Objectives. Annually, agency leaders review progress being made on each of its strategic objectives in the Agency Strategic Plan by conducting a Strategic Review. An annual assessment that synthesizes and analyzes available performance information and other evidence, the Strategic Reviews are designed to inform budget, legislative, and management decisions. These relative assessments of progress for an agency’s strategic objectives requires analysis across multiple perspectives and sources of evidence, both qualitative and quantitative, as agency leadership applies judgment when determining relative levels of progress and appropriate follow-up action for achieving longer-term impacts and outcomes articulated by strategic objectives.
Additionally, it is through this internal Strategic Review process that OMB works with agencies to determine which strategic objectives have demonstrated ‘Noteworthy Progress’ (NP) or represent a ‘Focused Area for Improvement’ (FAFI) relative to other strategic objectives. This helps ensure OMB and agencies are able to discuss relative performance across the organization’s mission and prioritize analysis and decision-making as well as enable agencies to meet the requirements and intent of 31 U.S.C. § 1116(f). Relative assessments are required for 10% to 20% of strategic objectives into each of the two categories: Noteworthy Progress and Focus Area for Improvement. There are a variety of different scenarios that may make such identification appropriate for a strategic objective relative to the other objectives at the agency, and categorization of the relative progress made by agencies on strategic objectives should not be misconstrued to be a relative assessment of the objectives’ importance or value over other mission objectives.