February 17, 2006

Your Government at Work

The Office of Management and Budget has created a nifty little site (ExpectMore.gov) that tells you which government programs work and which are not pulling their weight. The answers to a questionnaire called the Program Assessment Rating Tool (PART) was the main factor in establishing whether a program was "performing" or "not performing."

"Performing" breaks down into Effective, Moderately Effective and Adequate; "Not Performing" breaks MeFdown into Ineffective and Results Not Determined, which means they had trouble quantifying stuff or whatever. 15% of all programs are rated Effective, while only 4% are Ineffective. Among those rated Ineffective are the Perkins Loan program, Substance Abuse Prevention and Treatment Block Grant, Amtrak, and Americorps. Oddly enough, neither FEMA nor any Department of Homeland Security programs are on that list.

FEMA Disaster Recovery scores as adequate, which means "a program that needs to set more ambitious goals, achieve better results, improve accountability or strengthen its management practices." 28% of government programs get the same rating. In other words, someone like Michael Brown may be running over a quarter of our government's programs. Nice.

Plenty of Homeland Security programs are stuck under Results Not Determined, including the Coast Guard: Polar Icebreaking Program. We cannot, after all, let al Qaeda break our precious polar ice.

(hat tip: MeFi)


  1. Anonymous6:15 PM

    This is a damn good argument for eliminating FEMA when we eliminate wasteful programs like "Perkins Loan program, Substance Abuse Prevention and Treatment Block Grant, Amtrak, and Americorps."

    Let's stop wasting taxpayer money on programs that don't work and in which the government has no business involving itself.

  2. I'm not convinced that this is a good argument for removing these programs.

    From my understanding of Seal's commentary, these programs that are "not performing" aren't necessarily useless. It's just that they're literally not performing. While I agree it could be because they are inherently poor choices as federal programs, it could also be because these programs don't have enough financial support, are managed improperly, etc. As an example, some commentators argue that FEMA only performed poorly because of various policies instituted during the Bush Administration.

  3. Anonymous11:54 PM

    A program that doesn't work and which is an improper use of federal authority should be first on the chopping block. These programs already met the second criteria; now they've met the first.

    The federal government should certainly not be in the business of running a railroad, funding education, encouraging volunteerism or anything of the sort. Disaster recovery is arguably a proper use of federal authority, but if other agencies are more competent at response (like the National Guard or Coast Guard) there's no reason to keep FEMA around just for old times' sake.

  4. disaster control is arguably a proper use of federal funds?


    even libertarians won't argue that shit

  5. Anonymous9:42 PM

    on the amtrak hating:
    please snip me counterdata if I'm wrong, but how badly does amtrak do vs other modes of transport if one accounts for all the government dollars spent on highway subsidies and on propping up all of the free-marketly-efficient bankrupt airlines?
    It seems the govt has as much business running one form of transportation as any other. If this stuff is left to the free market, then we (at least those of us up here in the upper walley; even more so those in more northerly climes) are presumably and inevitably fecked, moreso than we already are.