WASHINGTON-The General Accounting Office, Congress’ watchdog that is currently studying NCUA and credit unions, last month completed a report on time and money savings coordination between agencies using their annual performance plans. Coordinating efforts between agencies with similar goals can save time and money, according to the report. The report, RESULTS-ORIENTED MANAGEMENT: Agency Crosscutting Actions and Plans in Drug Control, Family Poverty, Financial Institution Regulation, and Public Health Systems, suggests, “Annual performance reports and plans could then serve as a vehicle to highlight crosscutting program efforts and to provide evidence of the coordination of those efforts.” The report was prepared between September and November 2002 at the behest of then-Senate Governmental Affairs Committee Chairman Joseph Lieberman (D-Conn.) and then-Ranking Member Fred Thompson (R-Tenn.). However, the degree of coordination between agencies and its inclusion in performance reports varied greatly from agency to agency, GAO found. For example, NCUA reported meeting all its 2001 performance goals across the relevant crosscutting areas but left out possible shortcomings-as did the Federal Reserve Board, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, and the State Department-in their data or whether that data was complete, reliable, and credible. Most of the agencies reported mixed results in achieving their performance goals for 2001. Though NCUA did not include a section outlining crosscutting programs in its annual performance report, it did state that NCUA would work with “other federal agencies to further its goal of increasing the number of expansions into investment areas by 20 percent.” “Although federal programs have been designed for different purposes or targeted for different population groups, coordination among federal programs with related responsibilities is essential to efficiently and effectively meet national concerns,” GAO’s report said. “Uncoordinated program efforts can waste scarce funds, confuse and frustrate program customers, and limit the overall effectiveness of the federal effort.” However, GAO cautioned readers of the report that just because crosscutting efforts were not included in an agency’s annual plan, it does not mean efforts are not being made. The omissions do not solely lie at the feet of the agencies. GAO pointed out that the Government Performance and Results Act could provide more guidance in ensuring coordination. Specifically, the law should provide the Office of Management and Budget and interested parties with a structured framework for addressing crosscutting efforts. According to GAO, OMB could employ a government-wide performance plan to “integrate expected agency-level performance.” Also included in the study were the Treasury Department, Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, Office of Thrift Supervision, the Federal Reserve Board, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, the Department of Health and Human Services, the Department of Housing and Urban Development, the Department of Agriculture, the Labor Department, the Justice Department, the State Department, and the Department of Transportation. [email protected]

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