Governmental Accountability

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Expect more from your government—more accountability, more transparency, more and better performance. What a sensible thought. Someone should set up a web site designed to help you meet those expectations.

Well, someone has—specifically, your federal government. The web site is, and the idea is that you’ll use the information presented to determine how effectively your tax dollars are being spent.

Here’s how it works. The US Office of Management and Budget uses a questionnaire called the Program Assessment Rating Tool to assess the overall performance of federal agencies. If the answers indicate an agency is performing poorly, a plan is set up to improve future performance. Programs are usually assessed twice a year, though a more frequent schedule can be established.

The rating system. Ratings of Effective, Moderately Effective or Adequate are given to programs that spend taxpayer money effectively. Poorly performing programs receive a rating of Ineffective or Results Not Determined.

How you can use the information. View the summary assessments to learn if government programs are outdated, doing the same work as other programs, or not meeting stated goals—and why.

If you’re not satisfied with the performance revealed by the data, speak up. Contact your congressional representative, write a letter to the editor of your local paper or start a public debate on the Internet.

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