The Results Act:

Observations on GSA's April 1997 Draft Strategic Plan

GGD-97-147R: Published: Jul 7, 1997. Publicly Released: Aug 5, 1997.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed the latest available version of the General Services Administration's (GSA) draft strategic plan, focusing on: (1) whether the draft plan complied with the Government Performance and Results Act; (2) whether GSA's key statutory authorities were reflected; (3) whether discussions about crosscutting functions and interagency involvement were included; (4) whether the draft plan addressed major management problems; and (5) GSA's capacity to provide reliable information about its operations and performance.

GAO noted that: (1) the April 28, 1997 plan that GAO reviewed includes the six components required by the Act; (2) however, GAO's analysis showed that the plan could better meet the purposes of the Act by providing more descriptive information on how goals and objectives will be achieved, how program evaluations were used in setting goals, and what the schedule will be for future evaluations, providing greater clarity and context in the four remaining, required, components, and generally, providing better linkages among the plan's components; (3) in addition, the plan could be more useful if it provided a fuller discussion of key statutory authorities and an explicit discussion of crosscutting functions, major management challenges, and GSA's capacity to provide reliable information on achievement of its strategic goals; (4) two of the required components of the plan--how the goals and objectives will be achieved and program evaluations--did not contain sufficient information to fully achieve the purposes of the Results Act and related Office of Management and Budget (OMB) guidance; (5) although the other four required components generally complied with the intent of the Act and related OMB guidance, they could be made more useful and informative; (6) although the plan reflects the major pieces of legislation that establish GSA's mission and explains how GSA's mission is linked to key statutes, GSA could provide other useful information; (7) in addition, the plan is silent on crosscutting issues and makes no mention of whether GSA coordinated with related stakeholders; (8) it does not explicitly discuss the potential for crosscutting issues to arise or how these issues might affect the successful accomplishment of goals and objectives; (9) furthermore, the plan is silent on the formidable management problems GAO has identified over the years, issues that are important because they could affect GSA's development, or ability to meet, its strategic goals; (10) also, GAO and others, including GSA's Inspector General, have identified problems with the reliability and availability of data in GSA's program-related and financial management information systems; (11) according to GSA, it has developed a new system, one GAO has not evaluated, that has corrected some of these deficiencies; (12) however, GSA makes no mention of how data limitations would affect its ability to measure performance and ultimately manage its programs; and (13) GAO believes that consideration of these areas would give GSA a better framework for developing and achieving its goals and help stakeholders better understand GSA's operating constraints and environment.

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