Government Spending

Data

Government Performance Anxiety

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The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) recently attempted to find out whether federal government programs actually do what they're supposed to do. The OMB so far has assessed about 230 programs, asking questions such as "Does the program (including program partners) achieve its annual performance goals?" and "Is the program designed to have a significant impact in addressing the intended interest, problem, or need?"

The good news is that some programs, about 45 percent, appear to work at some minimal level. The bad news is that, while just 5 percent were deemed "ineffective," more than half could not even be evaluated because they "do not have acceptable performance measures or have not yet collected performance data."

The federal government spends over $2 trillion annually on more than 1,000 programs. "In most cases," the OMB deadpans, "we do not know what we are getting for our money."