Henry Cuellar

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Responsible Spending
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Congressman Cuellar is a current Member of the Blue Dog Coalition, the fiscally conservative Blue Dog Coalition in Congress. This democratic coalition is committed to restoring responsible spending in Washington and they've worked hard to bring back the budget rules of the 1990s which helped turned then record deficits into record surpluses. 

In the 111th Congress, the Blue Dog Coalition championed the return of Pay-As-You-Go (PAYGO) Spending Rules for Congress. PAYGO spending rules helped create a projected $5.6 trillion surplus in 2001 by ensuring that every dollar spent is offset by another dollar of savings elsewhere. Unfortunately in 2002, Congress let PAYGO rules expire and by 2010, the nation saw a record $12 trillion deficit. 

Congress and the President brought PAYGO back into law, by passing the vitally important legislation through both the House and Senate.

HR 2142, the Government Performance and Results Modernization Act?, is legislation authored by Congressman Henry Cuellar and was recently signed into law on January 4, 2011.

This law would require Federal agencies to set clear performance goals that can be accurately measured and publicly reported in a more transparent way. It brings accountability and more information on what works and what does not work in the government for lawmakers to make better informed budgetary decisions.

Key Points:

  • The House originally passed the bill by voice vote on June 16.  The Senate passed its version by unanimous consent on December 16.   On December 21, 2010 the House passed HR 2142 by a vote of 216 – 139. It was signed by the President on January 4, 2011.

  • This bill is designed to help prevent unnecessary, wasteful government spending, by telling us which federal agencies and programs are working and which are not.  Under the bill, with aggressive oversight and better information, Congress can better use its “power of the purse” to reward effectiveness and punish waste, and steer agencies towards more effective, results-oriented government.

  • This bipartisan bill will help reduce the nation’s deficit by shining a light on ineffective federal programs and creating a mechanism to intervene if agencies fail to meet their goals.  Specifically, it empowers OMB and Congress to recommend or take action, including legislative and reauthorization changes, to address programs that fail to meet their goals.  With greater government efficiency, we can produce cost savings for every American taxpayer.

Congressman Cuellar’s law is designed to help prevent unnecessary, wasteful government spending, by telling us which federal agencies and programs are working and which are not. 

Following is an overview of some of the key features.

  • Shines light on ineffective federal programs to root out wasteful spending.  Under the bill, federal agencies are required to clearly identify ambitious, priority goals and to assess their agency’s performance and effectiveness.  This will provide the needed information to make informed budgetary decisions.
  • Heightens transparency to generate government credibility.  The performance and effectiveness information generated by federal agencies under the bill will be easily accessible and made publicly available to Congress and the American people.
  • Increases government accountability.  Federal agencies will be held accountable by requiring all agencies to conduct quarterly performance reports on how effectively they are working to meet their goals.  More government accountability leads to more government credibility.
  • Creates a mechanism to penalize agencies that fail to meet goals.  If an agency fails to meet its performance goals, OMB must submit recommendations to Congress on actions and incentives to improve the agency’s performance.  This mechanism will ensure that goals are met and actively pursued throughout the year.
  • Eliminates duplicative, outdated, and unused performance reporting required under current law.  In the first year, federal agencies must identify at least 10 percent of the performance reports the agency is required to submit to Congress as outdated or duplicative.  This will eliminate stacks of unused reports that no one currently reads or uses.
  • Elevates the role of agencies to bring accountability.  The bill makes the Chief Operating Officer of each federal agency accountable for the performance and operational success of that agency.  Accountability for performance will no longer be buried in a planning office..

Congressman Cuellar was successful in including good government language into the FY 2104 Omnibus Appropriations bill

The head of each agency, as defined in section 306(f) of title 5, should, in preparing funding requests as part of the President’s annual budget, and in consultation with the Government Accountability Office, directly link the agency’s performance plan under 31 USC 1115(b) and performance goals designated as agency priority goals under 31 USC 1120(b) to such funding requests.  Performance measures in future budget justifications should clearly demonstrate the extent to which performance reporting under 31 USC 1116 demonstrates that prior year investments in programs, projects, and activities are tied to progress toward achieving performance and priority goals and include estimates for how proposed investments will contribute to additional progress. In particular, performance measures should examine outcome measures, output measures, efficiency measures and customer service measures as defined in 31 USC 1115(h).

  • The 1st time accountability language will direct each agency head in preparing funding requests as part of the President’s annual budget, And in consultation with the GAO,
  • To directly link the agency’s performance plan and performance goals designated as agency priority goals to such funding requests.
  • Performance measures in future budget justifications should clearly demonstrate the extent to which performance reporting demonstrates that prior year investments in programs, projects, and activities are tied to progress towards achieving performance and priority goals,
  • And include estimates for how proposed investments will contribute to additional progress.
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