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Senators want quarterly performance updates

By Ed O'Keefe

Here's a shocker (not): A bipartisan group of lawmakers admits that most lawmakers don't read the reams of agency progress reports prepared for them each year, so they want the government to focus instead on publicly posting quarterly performance updates and cutting back on overlapping programs.

Legislation to be introduced today by five of the most active members of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee is designed to "encourage federal agencies to put away the stacks of reports that no one reads and actually start to think how we can improve the effectiveness, efficiency and transparency of our government," said the lead sponsor, Tom Carper (D-Del.).

The measure would require federal agencies to designate a chief operating officer and performance improvement officer (likely the agency's deputy secretary and another senior official) to root out overlapping programs and propose spending cuts. Agencies also would have to post performance data on a new government Web site on a quarterly, instead of yearly basis and would have to review the reports mandated by Congress to determine which ones are either outdated or no longer necessary.

The bill would provide the first major overhaul of government performance efforts in more than a decade, according to Carper aides. It essentially appears to codify many of the government efficiency reforms undertaken by the Obama administration as it tries to cut back on wasteful government spending.

In the case of those progress reports, nobody knows exactly how many of them are prepared each year, but they can be about almost any government program or office, aides said. The senators believe that focusing on a general quarterly progress report should do the job.

"Our citizens -- our customers -- deserve to have regular reports about how their government is performing," said Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.), another sponsor.

Sens. Joseph I. Lieberman (I-Conn.), Susan Collins (R-Maine), Daniel Akaka (D-Hawaii) and George Voinovich (R-Ohio) are also sponsoring the bill.

The legislation is expected to earn a favorable vote from the HSGAC panel and referred to the full Senate on Wednesday, but no word on how quickly it will advance in the coming weeks.

Leave your thoughts in the comments section below

By Ed O'Keefe  | September 28, 2010; 11:00 AM ET
Categories:  Agencies and Departments, Congress  
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Makes sense, but the lack of comments here shows exactly how sexy the topic is.

Posted by: bharshaw | September 29, 2010 5:08 PM | Report abuse

The same can be said for many of the Obama administration's budget initiatives, and it makes me wonder if people really DO want what they clamor for - smaller, more efficient government.

Maybe it's just more cathartic, more satisfying, to wave signs about how angry and frustrated they are?

I know that reforming government is going to take many many small steps, some of which won't be conducive to the 24-hour news cycle. Patience isn't easy in tough times, but the folks who are mad that the whole government hasn't been reformed, all the economic issues 'fixed', the trade and jobs and environmental and war problems all magically taken away, aren't being realistic.

Posted by: lquarton | September 30, 2010 12:34 AM | Report abuse

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