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Department at a Glance | Integration of Performance and Financial Information

Focusing on results and accountability with performance monitoring and financial reporting is a sound practice for increasing the Department's productivity. One critical gauge of how well taxpayer dollars are being used is for an agency to link the performance of its programs to subsequent budget determinations. Not long ago, we could discern such a linkage for only a few federal programs, but the absence of performance metrics at the program level is now clearly the exception rather than the rule. Furthermore, if the conventional wisdom that what gets measured gets done is proven true, the increasing use of rigorous performance measurement will help to bring about the positive results we seek.

The Department constantly seeks to strengthen the linkage between financial investments and program quality. We do this not only through the development of program measures, but also through various reporting mechanisms and effective budget management. This report is one example of how we provide comprehensive, accurate information to the American public in a timely manner. The following are some other major activities related to budget and performance integration.

Program Assessment Rating Tool. Since 2002, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) has asked federal agencies to systematically assess the quality of government programs using the Program Assessment Rating Tool (PART). Using this consistent mechanism, OMB works with federal agencies to judge the effectiveness of programs with regard to their stated purpose, strategic planning, internal management, and results and accountability. Although primarily a diagnostic tool for programs, PART reviews provide critical information that can be used to establish funding priorities for budget planning and development. Following the PART process, programs take follow-up action based on the recommendations from the PART.

By September 2005, the Department had completed PART reviews on 56 of our programs. This Performance and Accountability Report includes detailed information on the programs evaluated through PART in preparation for the Department's FY 2005 budget submission. The Performance Details section shows ratings, recommendations, and the changes these programs have implemented during FY 2005 to improve their effectiveness. See the PART section under each goal chapter for this information. By 2007, most Department programs will have undergone PART evaluations.

Integrating Performance Plan into Budget. Beginning with our FY 2005 budget, the Department has combined our annual performance plan and our annual budget to create an annual performance budget, consistent with OMB guidance for facilitating budget and performance integration. Additionally, effective FY 2005, the Department shifted from the use of strategic measures that reported the national status of education to a focus on program-related measures to more accurately reflect departmental objectives. We accomplished this by selecting key existing program measures as representative of our strategic goals and discontinuing most of the prior national status measures. We continue also to report on the full set of program measures as found in each program's annual plan under the Government Performance and Results Act.

Crosswalk of Appropriations and Net Cost to Strategic Plan Goals. This Fiscal Year 2005 Performance and Accountability Report continues to emphasize the alignment of financial data and performance priorities by again identifying in the Performance Details section both appropriations and net costs for the goals of the Strategic Plan. Each Department program is aligned with the same strategic goal as in the past two years, enabling both our appropriations and our estimated net costs to clearly reflect the discrete priorities of the Strategic Plan. The Department considers Goal 1, Creating a Culture of Achievement, to be a high-level synopsis of the four pillars on which educational excellence is established; as a result, we do not assign specific programs to that goal. Goals 2 through 5 are sharper directives that guide subdivisions of the Department to carry out the vision of the four pillars, and our programs are therefore assigned to one of these goals. Goal 6, Establishing Management Excellence, emphasizes the administrative and oversight responsibilities that support our programmatic mission. See the program summary section of each goal chapter for this information.

The Department's Statement of Net Cost provides a crosswalk between accounting methods that predate No Child Left Behind and our Strategic Plan goals. In the Statement of Net Cost, Program A (Enhancement of Postsecondary and Adult Education) aligns with Goal 5. Program B (Student Achievement, Culture of Achievement, and Safe Schools) aligns with Goals 1, 2 and 3. Program C (Transformation of Education) represents Goal 4. Program D (Special Education and Program Execution) spans Goals 2 through 5. The Financial Details section of this Performance and Accountability Report analyzes this crosswalk. In the event that our Strategic Plan were to be significantly amended, the accounting crosswalk will provide continuity in linking program emphases to reliable financial reporting.

Challenges Linking Performance to Funding. The Department's challenges of linking performance results, expenditures, and budget are complicated by the fact that we accomplish our objectives indirectly, with more than 98 percent of our funding going out in grants and loans, and further complicated by the schedule of funding for these programs.

In the Department, only a portion of a given fiscal year's appropriations are actually available to state, school, organization, and student recipients during the fiscal year in which they are appropriated; the remainder become available at or near the end of the appropriation year or in the subsequent year and remain available to recipients for varying lengths of time, as long as 27 months or more. Thus, linking appropriated funds and program results for a particular fiscal year is not only complex, but also different for different programs.

For example, large formula programs, such as Title I of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act and Grants to States under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, may receive both "forward-funded" and "advance" appropriations. Forward-funded amounts made available under the FY 2005 appropriations for these programs were not available for award until July 2005, nine months after the beginning of FY 2005. Advance amounts made available under the FY 2005 appropriations were not available until October 2005 (at the beginning of FY 2006). Both forward-funded and advance amounts made available in the FY 2005 appropriations are intended for use primarily during SY 2005-06, and these funds can be carried over for obligation at the state and local levels through the end of September 2007.

Funds for competitive grant programs are generally available when appropriations are passed by the Congress. However, the processes required for conducting the grant competitions often result in awarding grants near the end of the fiscal year, with funding available to grantees for additional years.

Thus, the results we see during FY 2005, which are to be measured for this report, are not solely the results of actions taken with FY 2005 funds, but rather the combination of funds from FY 2003, FY 2004, and FY 2005. Furthermore, the actual results of education programs are often not apparent until long after the funds are expended. For example, a program to support middle school students in ways that will increase the likelihood that they go to college has approximately a six-year lag time for measuring initial results.

Although we cannot isolate program results and link them directly to a fiscal year's funding, performance during a single program year serves as a proxy, because most of our programs are ongoing. Along with performance results for each program, this report shows the amount of funds appropriated for FY 2005 and the amount of funds expended in FY 2005. Click here for performance and funding summaries for Goal 2 [PDF, 460K], Goal 3 [PDF, 256K], Goal 4 [PDF, 256K], Goal 5 [PDF, 312K], and Goal 6 [PDF, 220K].