Know The Government Performance and Results Act (GPRA)
Know The Government Performance and Results Act (GPRA)

The U.S. Congress passed legislation in 1993 requiring each federal agency to develop a multi-year strategic plan, submit an annual performance plan, and report annually on results. The Government Performance and Results Act (GPRA) in essence, required federal agencies to adopt best management practices related to planning, evaluation, and continuous quality improvement. 

Then in 2010, Congress passed the GPRA Modernization Act, providing guidance to federal agencies regarding implementation of highly results-oriented performance management systems. 

“Agencies use grants as tools for accomplishing the outcomes defined in their annual performance plans.” said Barbara Floersch, grants expert and author of You Have a Hammer: Building Grant Proposals for Social Change. “That means the success of organizations in achieving the outcomes defined in grant proposals directly impacts the funding agency’s ability to advocate for continued appropriations to support those grants.” 

The GPRA performance measures that federal agencies apply to individual grant programs are generally provided in the Notice of Funding Opportunity (application guidelines), and usually include outputs (how much of a service you are expected to deliver) as well as outcomes (what degree of change are you expected to accomplish). Federal funding application guidelines vary tremendously, and guidelines often refer to these as performance measures rather than GPRA measures. 

To prepare yourself for red-hot grant competitions, start by reading the strategic plan of the agency to which you will be applying. Each agency’s strategic plan is available on its website. For examples, check out the 2022 through 2026 strategic plans of the Department of Health and Human Services and the Department of Justice. Understanding the strategic plan will clue you into language, terminology, and primary concepts important to the funder. 

Be sure the program outcomes defined in your grant proposal reflect the agency’s performance measures and be sure the proposal narrative explains how program activities will directly contribute to achievement of those results. Many federal agencies have data portals into which grant-funded programs enter required performance data. When discussing data collection and evaluation in the grant proposal, explain specifically how your organization will gather and enter the required data in a timely way, and how you will ensure data integrity.

Understanding federal agency strategic plans and required performance measures is one more way to become a winner in the fiercely competitive federal funding environment. ©Copyright 2022, Barbara Floersch