USDA FOREST SERVICE : Strategic Planning and Resource Assessment

FY 2003 Performance Report

Overview of Performance Reporting

The publication How Federal Programs Use Outcome Information, part of the Managing for Results Series, suggests that outcome information should be used primarily by program managers themselves to improve the effectiveness of the programs.

So, what is a desired outcome for the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Forest Service? In the Forest Service, the legacy of annual reporting for the Resource Protection Act leaves the agency prone to reporting outputs in the quantity of products and services that are delivered, rather than outcomes as the results that are achieved, as required by the Government Performance Results Act (GPRA) of 1993.

Forest Service leadership must shift the agency’s focus to GPRA’s requirements so that a frank discussion about the outcomes, or results, that are needed within the agency can occur.

The following definitions come from the publication mentioned above.


The resources, whether expenditures or employee time, used to produce outputs and outcomes. The Forest Service does not currently track employee time.


Products and services delivered. Outputs are completed products of internal activity: the amount of work done within the organization or by its contractors, such as miles of roads repaired or number of acres treated.


An event, occurrence, or condition that is outside the activity or program itself and is directly important to program customers or the public. Also included are indicators of service quality, which are important to customers.


A specific numerical measurement for one aspect of performance—an output or outcome.

The USDA Forest Service Strategic Plan (2000 Revision) states—

The agency’s annual performance report will include information on what was accomplished relative to annual performance measures and the status of progress toward strategic plan objectives, based on multiyear trends.

Definitions for “efficiency” and “effectiveness” are provided in the requirements for the Management’s Discussion and Analysis (MD&A) section of the Form and Content of Agency Financial Statements (OMB Bulletin No. 01-09). As each term relates to performance goals, objectives, and results, efficiency is measured by relating outputs (the quantity of services provided) to inputs (the costs incurred to provide the services). Effectiveness is measured by the outcome or the degree to which a predetermined objective is met, and it is commonly combined with cost information to show “cost-effectiveness.”

Currently, the Forest Service may be able to develop and report objective measures to provide performance information about program efficiency, but it is not able to demonstrate the cost effectiveness of agency programs. Presidential Management Initiatives—such as performance and budget integration, improved financial management, and competitive sourcing—are moving the agency in that direction.