READING

The Program Assessment Rating Tool (Part)

What PARTs Help, And What PARTs Don't

First Annual AEA Public Issues Forum
Thursday, November 2, 2006

Contents:

This page contains information and resources related to the November 2006 AEA Public Issues Forum focusing on the Program Assessment Rating Tool (PART).

Abstract:

The Program Assessment Rating Tool (PART) is a major initiative of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) to assess and improve program performance with the goal of achieving better results from Federal government programs. A PART review is designed to help identify a program’s strengths and weaknesses to inform funding and management decisions aimed at making the program more effective. The PART looks at factors that affect and reflect program performance including program purpose and design; performance measurement, evaluations, and strategic planning; program management; and program results. The PART asks approximately 25 general questions about a program's performance and management. For each question, there is a short answer and a detailed explanation with supporting evidence. The answers determine a program's overall rating. Once each assessment is completed, a program improvement plan is developed to enable follow up and improvement of the program's performance.

Because the PART includes a consistent series of analytical questions, it allows programs to show improvements over time, and allows comparisons between similar programs. ExpectMore.gov is a new website (launched on February 6th, 2006) that reports on Federal program performance and what is being done to improve results. There are currently nearly 800 PART program assessments available on ExpectMore.gov. As would be expected with any federal program of such magnitude, the PART process and the ExpectMore.gov website have not been without controversy. Several reports of the Government Accountability Office have raised concerns about implementation and advocacy groups outside the federal government, such as OMB Watch, remain critical. Within the evaluation profession, a lively discussion has been joined about the degree to which PART reflects good evaluation practice. It is especially fitting that the first AEA Public Issues Forum be devoted to discussing this major effort that has such important potential implications for the theory and practice of evaluation.

Panel participants: 

  • William Trochim, PhD (moderator), Cornell University, AEA President-Elect 2007-2009
  • Michael Schooley, MPH, Applied Research and Evaluation Branch, Division for Heart Disease and Stroke Prevention, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
  • Ted Kniker, MA, Federal Consulting Group, United States Department of the Treasury
  • Nancy Kingsbury, PhD, United States Government Accountability Office (GAO) 

Click here for detailed participant biographies.

Program contents (note that these are components of the full text and audio proceedings for the session available under 'free downloads'):

Free downloads:

Further resources:

White House information website on PART:
http://www.whitehouse.gov/omb/part/index.html

Published results of PART assessments for Federal programs:
http://www.ExpectMore.gov

OMB Watch issues page on PART and government performance:
http://www.ombwatch.org/article/archive/90

Heritage Foundation issues paper on PART:
http://www.heritage.org/Research/Budget/wm1137.cfm

GAO testimony to Congress on PART:
http://www.gao.gov/atext/d04439t.txt

Congress needs a part of PART: GAO says lawmakers should be more engaged in program review process (article):
http://www.fcw.com/article91590-12-05-05-Print&printLayout

Relationship of PART to changes in FY 2006 budget:
http://www.john-mercer.com/omb_part.htm

Federal Times interview with Ted Kniker on PART and performance measurement, October 9, 2006:
http://www.federaltimes.com/index.php?S=2157827

"Implementing OMB's Program Assessment Rating Tool (PART): Meeting the Challenges of Integrating Budget and Performance," John B. Gilmour, IBM Center for the Business of Government, 2006:
http://www.businessofgovernment.org/pdfs/GilmourReport.pdf

Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award for Performance Excellence, Criteria for Non-Profit Organization, National Institute of Standards and Technology, U.S. Department of Commerce:
http://www.quality.nist.gov/Business_Criteria.htm

"Six Trends Transforming Government," Mark A. Abramson, Jonathan D. Breul, John M. Kamensky, IBM Center for the Business of Government, 2006:
http://www.businessofgovernment.org/pdfs/SixTrends.pdf

Federal Consulting Group:
http://www.fcg.gov

Performance Budgeting: PART Focuses Attention on Program Performance, but More Can Be Done to Engage Congress
http://www.gao.gov/new.items/d0628.pdf

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