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One Virginia Lawmaker is Working to Boost the Federal Government's Performance

How well is the federal government performing? A bill on the House floor this week from one Virginia congressman to improve performance in Washington.

When the economy crashed because of the pandemic, Congress set aside $25 billion in rent relief to help struggling families. But only 13% of that money actually made it into the hands of people who need it.

Congressman Gerry Connolly is a Democrat from Fairfax County who says that's a failure of government, and something needs to be done about it.

"We're trying to prevent families from being evicted, and you can barely get 13% of the $25 billion we provided out the door," asks Connolly. "That's scandalous, and that underscores exactly the point we are talking about."

That's why Connolly and Republican Congressman Jody Hice of Georgia are working together on the Performance Enhancement Reform Act, which says the IT director and the data officer should be at the table when agencies put together performance plans.

Max Stier at the Partnership for Public Service says the performance plan should not be something the HR director puts together and is ignored by everybody else.

"Everyone loves to focus on government around their policy preferences, but the reality is that the policy is only good if you can get it done right," Stier explains. "And rental assistance is perfect in demonstrating that good policy didn't actually have the impact that was intended because of failure of execution."

Congressman Connolly says this legislation has never been more needed than right now, as trillions of dollars of federal assistance are sloshing around the federal government.

This report, provided by Virginia Public Radio, was made possible with support from the Virginia Education Association.

Michael Pope is an author and journalist who lives in Old Town Alexandria.