Panel Paper: Executive Leadership and Government Performance: A Content Analysis of Gpra Modernization Act of 2010 Strategic Plans Under Obama and Trump

Thursday, November 7, 2019
Plaza Building: Concourse Level, Plaza Court 5 (Sheraton Denver Downtown)

*Names in bold indicate Presenter

Juliet Musso, Ryan Lutz, Weiwei Lin, Allison Wilhite and Shegnan Xing, University of Southern California

This research considers the role that executive branch leadership plays in federal agency strategic planning and performance. There has been considerable criticism of the original Government Performance Results Act of 1993 (GPRA) on grounds that rather than instilling more purposeful compliance with agency directives, it has led to passive compliance, presented perverse incentives, or has been manipulated for political purposes (see for example Radin 1998, 2000; Ho, 2007; and Moynihan and Lavertu 2012). There has been less systematic attention in the literature to the GPRA Modernization Act of 2010, which codified some Bush Administration performance management practices and realigned the timing of strategic planning efforts to coincide with Presidential elections. The transition from the Obama to the Trump administration provides an opportunity to investigate the extent to which executive transition appears to influence the agency strategic planning process. If staff passively comply with GPRAMA, one would expect to see little change between administrations. In contrast, purposeful or political compliance would be lead to substantive changes in planning, although it is difficult to predict what form these might take. As a first step in assessing the influence of executive transitions on strategic performance, this exploratory, multi-method study content-codes key elements of GPRMA strategic plans submitted in 2013 (Obama Administration) and 2017 (Trump Administration) to identify the extent to which agency priority goals changed between the two presidential administrations. The focus is on the 12 CFO agency strategic plans in the United States Interagency Council on Homelessness. Additionally, this research reviews in detail the stated Agency Priority Goals and Strategic Goals of the Labor, Health and Human Services, Housing and Urban Development, and Veterans Affairs departments around the issue area of homelessness. The study provides a content coding of plans to assess agency adherence to the GPRA Modernization Act and Office of Management and Budget (OMB) requirements and to consider the extent that agency strategic performance practices appeared to change following the executive transition. Semi-structured interviews with strategic planning practitioners in selected agencies complement the content analysis for purposes of establishing context and interpreting findings.


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Moynihan, D.P. and S. Lavertu. 2012. “Does involvement in performance management routines encourage performance information use? Evaluating GPRA and PART. Public Administration Review, 2012.

Radin, B.A. 1998. “The Government Performance and Results Act (GPRA): Hydra-headed monster or flexible management tool? Public Administration Review, 1998.

Radin, B.A. 2000. “The Government Peformancea nd Results Act and the tradition of federal management reform: Square pegs in round holes? Journal of Public Administration Research and Theory.