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PART: Part of the Process of Improving Government Performance through Budgeting
Academicians are essential government watchdogs. University and other researchers evaluate current developments, investigate trends and, often overlooked in terms of relevance, analyze past events.

In recognition of vital role of historical analysis, Watchdog Watch is pleased to highlight a study appearing in the Innovation Journal, "PART: An Attempt in Federal Performance-based Budgeting" by Tiankai Wang, Ph.D. and Sue Biedermann of Texas State University.

The paper explains that the now-discontinued "Program Assessment Rating Tool (PART) was the most recent attempt in U.S. federal performance-based budgeting innovations." Professors Wang and Biedermann explain:

This article investigates the development and implementation of the PART in the federal budgeting process. Over 1000 PART reports from 2004 to 2008 were retrieved from the PART official website. The effects of the PART ratings are examined in a set of regression models with a group of control variables that are known to influence federal budget decisions. The models show positive, but not statistically significant, results. Therefore, not enough empirical evidence is found that program appropriation was impacted by the PART ratings.

The paper concludes:

Although the PART did not reach the promised result, it brought the idea of performance measurement into the federal level and tried to apply the performance-based budget principles into the practice. On the plus side, this assessment tool helped establish the result-oriented evaluation in the public sector, assisted users in gaining experience in performance-based budget design and paved the path for future studies on normative budget theory.

The valuable analysis of the PART program should be viewed in context of the newly released update of OMB Circular A-11, Preparation, Submission, and Execution of the Budget. Of particular relevance is Part 260 of the Circular, "Annual Performance Reporting." The section explains:

The Annual Performance Report (APR) provides information on the agency's progress achieving the goals and objectives described in the agency's Strategic Plan and Annual Performance Plan, including progress on the Agency Priority Goals. The term Annual Performance Report means the same as the performance section of the Performance and Accountability Report (PAR) published by agencies in November or the Annual Performance Report that is published by agencies in February.

The PART program is defunct. Its goals continue.

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