Key Issues > Federal Leadership Capacity and Continuity
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Federal Leadership Capacity and Continuity

Perhaps the single most important element of successful management improvement and transformation initiatives is the demonstrated commitment of top leaders, as shown by their personal involvement in reform efforts.


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The GPRA Modernization Act of 2010 (GPRAMA) requires several new leadership structures and responsibilities aimed at sustaining attention on performance improvement efforts at both the agency and government-wide levels. For example, GPRAMA assigns leadership responsibilities to agency officials in key performance management roles, including chief operating officer, performance improvement officer, and agency priority goal leader. Among other responsibilities under GPRAMA, agency leaders are required to conduct quarterly, data-driven performance reviews.

  • Most key officials were greatly involved in central aspects of performance management required by GPRAMA, according to a GAO survey of performance improvement officers. These include strategic and performance planning and goal setting, and performance measurement and analysis.
  • Although some progress has been made, these key leaders are still missing opportunities to improve performance management, such as by addressing crosscutting issues and using performance data to improve results.
  • The GPRAMA framework can be more fully leveraged to address governance challenges. For example, our 2013 survey of federal managers showed that reported collaboration increases when individuals contribute to cross-agency priority goals, agency priority goals, or quarterly performance reviews (all required by GPRAMA). Additionally, effective quarterly performance reviews can serve as a leadership strategy, requiring leadership and other responsible parties to come together to review performance information and identify opportunities to improve results. Our 2013 federal managers survey showed that managers’ familiarity with these reviews is positively related to managers’ perceptions of their leadership’s demonstrated commitment to using performance information.
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