Performance.gov Not Fulfilling Its Purpose According to GAO
Published: September 15, 2016
Recent analysis by GAO suggests that OMB could do more to improve the usability and usefulness of the Performance.gov website which is meant to provide the public with a window into federal performance goals and results.
OMB established the Performance.gov website in 2011 to meet mandates of the Government Performance and Results Modernization Act of 2010 (GPRAMA). As part of the legislation, OMB was required to provide federal performance information on a publically available website to help improve government performance.
The law directs GAO to periodically evaluate implementation of GPRAMA. GAO last reviewed Performance.gov in June 2013 and offered suggestions for usefulness and improvement.
The most recent GAO evaluation assessed OMB’s efforts to ensure the website’s usefulness and whether or not there was a strategic plan for the website. GAO also used the requirements checklist for federal websites and digital services provided on Digitalgov.gov.
GAO found that OMB, GSA, and the Performance Improvement Council (PIC) took several steps to improve the usefulness of Performance.gov between 2013 and its latest evaluation, however their actions do not fully meet the provisions of GPRAMA or federal website requirements specified on digitalgov.gov.
Specifically, OMB and GSA have not addressed all of the issues identified during a website usability test in September 2013 regarding accessibility, purpose, data visualizations and search functions. OMB and PIC have not set goals for the 18 out of 24 website performance measures that they are tracking from digitalgov.gov’s requirements. GAO also identified areas where OMB is not fully meeting public reporting requirements for agency priority and cross-agency priority goals. Additionally, OMB does not have a strategic plan for the website to help guide staff.
OMB and PIC blamed the shortcomings and lack of action on 2013 recommendations, on limited resources. OMB said that the lack of a strategic plan stemmed from their desire to allow transition time for the operations and website maintenance contractor who was hired in August 2015. OMB stated that in February 2016 they hired a Digital Services Director to develop a strategic plan and manage the website’s long-term development.
GAO recommended that OMB work with PIC and GSA to confirm that data on Performance.gov consistently meets GPRAMA requirements, that they implement usability test results, and that they development and implement a strategic plan for the website. GAO cautioned that, “By not fully implementing Digitalgov.gov requirements and GAO’s recommendations on GPRAMA requirements, Performance.gov will continue to have difficulty serving its intended purpose as a central website where users can easily locate government-wide performance information.”