The agency's submission of a budget request to Congress incorporates promises of what it will accomplish with the resources.  Once Congress grants resources, the agency has an obligation to deliver on its promises.
 
     Congress also has an obligation to follow up and make sure the agency has done what it promised to do.  This is the essence of the GPRA:  Accountability for the use of taxpayer resources and the authority delegated by Congress.  Congress carries out its responsibility through audits and oversight hearings.  When there is need to review the agency's performance, Congressional committees hold an oversight hearing.
 
     Basis for oversight hearings may be audits, news media reports of problems, knowledge gained through other hearings, or Members' or staff's own findings.   Audits carried out by GAO and the IG are the result of Congress' interest in following up on what agencies do.  GAO is an arm of Congress.  The Inspector Generals were established by Congress to improve internal agency management.  In addition, there are additional investigative resources available.  For example, the House Appropriations Committee has a permanent Investigations Staff.
 
     Congress has few tools to "send a message" to an agency.   These tools include hearings (where agency managers may be embarrassed and shamed into action) and legislation, including appropriations.  Congress can condition or change appropriations bills to express its displeasure with an agency.  Congress can deny funds for specific activities, or to state what must be done in the various reports associated with the appropriations bill.  Congress can deny salaries for specific officials, or to completely deny funding for the whole agency.  The power of the purse is powerful, but it is also a blunt weapon.
 
     GPRA sets up the basis for an extensive oversight process.   Congress gets the specific opportunity to review performance for a given year for three years:
GPRA requires a report on program performance no later than every March 31. The first report is due no later than March 31, 2000, on FY 1999 performance. GPRA also requires that the report due March 31, 2001, cover FY 1999 and FY 2000, and that the report due March 31, 2002, cover FY 1999, FY 2000, and FY 2001. Every subsequent report is to include results for the three preceding years.