Investing Tax Dollars and Public Trust in What Works

By Robert Shea, Cleveland Plain Dealer

September 17, 2012

The U.S. Office of Management and Budget (OMB) recently told the heads of all federal agencies to make greater use of evidence to suggest where the government should make investments in the fiscal year 2014 budget. With federal revenue scarce, distinguishing what works from what doesn’t is more important than ever, though we’ve never really been very good at it.

As a former associate director of OMB in President George W. Bush’s administration, I was encouraged by this important step because, while this approach has been discussed for decades, it made its first great strides during Bush’s tenure.

Referred to as “performance-based budgeting,” this concept emerged in the 1950s. Throughout the 1990s, attempts to streamline government, like the Government Performance and Results Act, were enacted by Congress and the president to help federal agencies better achieve important outcomes.


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