CAP en Español
Small CAP Banner

A Step Forward: Government Performance Reform Passes the House

SOURCE: AP/Manuel Balce Ceneta

The House today passed a government performance bill that will now head to President Obama's desk to be signed into law. The bill was supported by Democrats and Republicans, including Sen. George Voinovich (R-OH), above.

  • print icon
  • SHARE:
  • Facebook icon
  • Twitter icon
  • Share on Google+
  • Email icon

Today the House of Representatives passed a bipartisan bill to transform the way government operates and monitors performance. We applaud Congress’s decision to require each federal agency to set out clearly what they will achieve for the American people.

The final framework of the legislation closely resembles an approach that the Center for American Progress called for recently to help policymakers build confidence in government. We called for the House and Senate to adopt the bill together with performance experts from both Bush administrations and those who served under Presidents Bill Clinton and Ronald Reagan.

The legislation, titled the Government Performance and Results Modernization Act of 2010, revises a landmark government performance law signed 17 years ago. The new bill requires all departments and agencies to set high-priority goals, develop a plan to accomplish each goal, and regularly adjust the plan as they go along so that the goals are more likely to be met. Each agency must also identify and do away with little-used or outdated reports, and designate senior officials to serve as chief operating and performance improvement officers.

The Senate unanimously passed the bill last Thursday, thanks to an effort led by Thomas Carper (D-DE), Mark Warner (D-VA), Susan Collins (R-ME), Daniel Akaka (D-AK), Joseph Lieberman (I-CT), and George Voinovich (R-OH). The bill stalled in the House on Friday, falling short of the required two-thirds majority under suspension of House rules even though an earlier version had passed unanimously. A second chance came this morning when the House Rules Committee passed a rule allowing the bill to pass with a simple majority. The bill passed by a vote of 216 to 139.

When Rep. Henry Cuellar (D-TX) presented his initial version of the bill to the House in May, Robert J. Shea, who led the performance improvement initiative under President George W. Bush, and CAP Senior Fellow Jitinder Kohli supported his plan to closely monitor a small set of difficult goals. And after the bill passed the House in June, the Center recommended ways that the Senate could improve the bill. Many of those suggestions were adapted into the final legislation.

To be sure, passage of the Government Performance and Results Modernization Act is a meaningful step forward. But true reform is accomplished in implementation, not authorizing legislation. As we look ahead to a new year, the baton will be passed to the administration, which will need to ensure that the great potential of the legislation is fulfilled.

To speak with our experts on this topic, please contact:

Print: Liz Bartolomeo (poverty, health care)
202.481.8151 or

Print: Tom Caiazza (foreign policy, energy and environment, LGBT issues, gun-violence prevention)
202.481.7141 or

Print: Allison Preiss (economy, education)
202.478.6331 or

Print: Tanya Arditi (immigration, Progress 2050, race issues, demographics, criminal justice, Legal Progress)
202.741.6258 or

Print: Chelsea Kiene (women's issues,, faith)
202.478.5328 or

Print: Beatriz Lopez (Center for American Progress Action Fund)
202.741.6255 or

Spanish-language and ethnic media: Rafael Medina
202.478.5313 or

TV: Rachel Rosen
202.483.2675 or

Radio: Sally Tucker
202.481.8103 or