Press Releases

Warner Convenes First Meeting of Bipartisan Task Force on Government Performance

~ Panel will advise ways to boost efficiency, save taxpayer dollars ~

Oct 29 2009

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Mark R. Warner (D-VA) today convened the first meeting of the U.S. Senate Budget Committee’s new Task Force on Government Performance. The bipartisan Task Force will examine the federal government’s management framework, recommend ways to improve the efficiency of federal programs and services, and identify potential taxpayer savings.

“As a former Governor and business leader, Senator Warner has tremendous insight and knowledge in this area and is the ideal person to lead this effort,” said Budget Committee Chairman Kent Conrad (D-ND). “This bipartisan group of Budget Committee members will focus on making our government run more efficiently and effectively, ensuring that we get the most out of the investment of taxpayer dollars.”

Other Budget Committee members serving on the Task Force include Senators Benjamin L. Cardin (D-MD), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), Jim Bunning (R-KY) and Mike Crapo (R-ID). Chairman Conrad and Ranking Member Judd Gregg (R-NH) will serve as ex officio members.

“I strongly believe in the principle that ‘what gets measured gets done,’” Senator Warner said. “This may not be the most glamorous or exciting stuff, but I am eager to get to work with my colleagues on the challenge of helping federal agencies and programs perform better through quality measurements, greater transparency and public accountability.”

Today’s initial Task Force meeting featured testimony from, among others, Jeffery Zients, the Deputy Director for Management of the Office of Management and Budget and President Obama’s Chief Performance Officer.

“The test of a performance management system is whether it is used … [and] the current approach fails this test,” Zients said in his prepared remarks today. “Overall, too much emphasis has been placed on producing performance information to comply with a checklist of requirements instead of using it to drive change. This must change.”

The U.S. Senate Budget Committee is responsible for drafting the annual budget plan for Congress, monitoring action on the budget, and recommending changes in the budget process for the federal government. The new Task Force on Government Performance will assist the Committee in its monitoring and oversight capacity.

Over the course of his 20-year career in the private sector, Senator Warner helped launch dozens of successful telecom and IT companies. He served as Virginia’s Governor from 2002-2006, addressing record state revenue shortfalls through a combination of targeted spending cuts and implementation of broad-based reforms that ultimately saved significant money. As a result of Warner Administration reforms, Virginia maintained its sterling Triple-A bond rating, and it continues to consistently earn the designation as the nation’s “Best Managed State.”

In addition, the Commonwealth’s Virginia Performs website has been recognized as a national leader in demonstrating how government can clearly communicate performance priorities, identify potential problems and track progress in a meaningful way that is widely accessible to taxpayers.

“I want us to think creatively about ways to save money and improve efficiency by asking the right questions so we can make the best decisions,” Senator Warner said in introductory remarks at today’s hearing. “For instance, in Virginia we found significant savings in procurement by shifting to a web-based purchasing platform that broadened the competitive bid process and leveraged our size and scale. We also set clear performance goals, and then empowered our managers and state workforce to look for common-sense and responsible ways to promote efficiency, improve service delivery and stretch scarce resources.”

The Task Force on Government Performance will examine current federal program measurement systems to ensure that policies are implemented efficiently and achieve the intended result. The Task Force will also examine how performance and program evaluation information is used during the budget process, and draw on best practices from public, private, and nonprofit experience, as well as from previous federal performance reform efforts.

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