The Labor, State and Transportation departments earned top spots in an independent organization's rankings of the quality of agencies' 2005 annual performance reports, and Treasury jumped up significantly. George Mason University's Mercatus Center released its seventh Annual Performance Report Scorecard on Tuesday, rating and ranking agencies on the transparency, public benefits and leadership evidenced in their performance and accountability reports. The ratings measure the quality of the reports, rather than agencies' success at meeting the goals outlined in them. . . . . The score card awards agencies up to 60 points, spread across 12 criteria designed to evaluate the performance reports for how accessible, readable and usable they are; their delineation of program outcomes and costs; and the extent to which leadership is demonstrated by justifying agency performance and making links between programs, goals and policies. Agencies earning ratings of "satisfactory" or higher, with at least 36 points, were responsible for only 15 percent of the $2.45 trillion in fiscal 2005 noninterest spending, the report stated. . . . . "Given the paucity of links between outcomes and costs in most reports, it's tempting to conclude that vast swaths of federal spending are essentially 'faith-based' initiatives," said Jerry Ellig, a Mercatus Center senior research fellow and a co-author of the study. "Intentions and values, rather than systematic proof of actual outcomes, drive much of the support for these programs."The full article is here, and the Mercatus study is here.