President Trump’s nominee to head OMB, Rep. Mick Mulvaney, indicated at two different Senate hearings on January 24 that he will consider reviving the Program Assessment Rating Tool (PART), which the Bush administration used to examine the effectiveness of federal programs. The prior Bush effort substantially incorporated evidence into its reviews.
According to Government Executive:
[Senator] Portman praised George W. Bush’s Program Assessment Rating for measuring the performance of federal initiatives and tying the results to spending, saying PART was “an enormous undertaking that some thought too time-consuming. But the result was that some programs had their budgets increased, some decreased, and some were eliminated.”
Mulvaney said he admired the quantitative data that PART supplied, adding that “ending PART denied us a tool, and I’m looking forward to adding management tools.”
Reviving PART is a priority for the conservative Heritage Foundation, which has been working closely with the incoming Trump administration.
According to Federal News Radio:
“I believe as a matter of principle that the debt is a matter that needs to be addressed sooner rather than later. I also know that fundamental changes are needed in the way we spend and tax if we truly want a healthy economy. This must include changing our long-term fiscal path, which is unsustainable,” Mulvaney said during the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee portion of his testimony. “Part of fixing our problem also means taking a hard look at government waste and then ending it. American taxpayers deserve a government that is efficient, effective and accountable.”
By bringing back the PART tool, or an updated version of the measurement initiative first used during the President George W. Bush administration, is how Mulvaney said he would help identify waste, fraud and abuse across the agencies.
“We talked about the importance of adding quantitative data to OMB’s analysis. Ending the PART program denied us that management tool. You can’t manage exclusively by quantitative data, but it’s difficult to manage at all with no quantitative data at all,” he said. “Whether or not we reinstitute PART in its old form or do something similar, I am looking forward to adding to OMB’s management tools along the same lines you had as when you were there.”
Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio), a former director of OMB under Bush, said he always understood that PART took a lot of time, not everyone loved it, but it helped the White House better understand the effectiveness of programs and whether they needed to add more or less money or just shut the initiative down.
In October, the Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank, released a blog post calling for a return to PART.
Heritage’s David Muhlhausen connected the need to try a PART 2.0 with the ongoing financial and debt challenges the nation faces. He wrote the best idea to deal with the budget woes is to cut spending.
- Trump Selects Ryan Ally as White House Budget Director (December 17, 2016)
- Heritage Foundation Endorses Increased Use of Evidence in Budgeting for Trump Administration (December 7, 2016)
- David B. Muhlhausen, Heritage Foundation, Evidence-Based Fiscal Discipline: The Case for PART 2.0 (September 27, 2016)
- Republicans Deploy an Old Tool in Combating Poverty: Evidence (June 14, 2016)
- Performance and Outcomes in the Ryan Anti-poverty Plan (July 24, 2014)
- David B. Muhlhausen, Do Federal Social Programs Work? (March 19, 2014)
- Donald P. Moynihan, Advancing the Empirical Study of Performance Management: What We Learned from the Program Assessment Rating Tool (February 20, 2013)