The Results Act:

Observations on OPM's May 1997 Draft Strategic Plan

GGD-97-150R: Published: Jul 11, 1997. Publicly Released: Aug 5, 1997.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed the Office of Personnel Management's (OPM) May 1997 draft strategic plan, focusing on: (1) whether the draft strategic plan contained each of the six components required by the Government Performance and Results Act and assessed the components' strengths and weaknesses; (2) whether OPM's key statutory authorities were reflected; (3) whether discussions about crosscutting functions and interagency coordination were included; (4) whether the draft plan addressed major management challenges; and (5) OPM's capacity to provide reliable information about operations and performance.

GAO noted that: (1) of the six components required by the Act, two--how the goals and objectives will be achieved and relating performance goals to general goals and objectives--were not specifically identified in the draft plan; (2) the remaining four components--mission statement, goals and objectives, external factors, and program evaluations--were discussed in the draft plan; (3) however, each of these components had weaknesses, some of more significance than others; (4) the four identified components generally contained some, but not all, of the attributes that would be desirable to meet the purpose of the Act and to be consistent with Office of Management and Budget (OMB) guidance, or that might be expected in a stand-alone explanation of OPM's planned strategy for the next 5 years; (5) OPM's draft plan could better meet the purposes of the Act and OMB guidance if it contained a well-developed discussion of statutory authorities, crosscutting issues, and management problems; (6) OPM's draft plan does not discuss OPM's key statutory authorities, which could help OPM's stakeholders better understand the diversity and complexity of OPM's overall mission as well as the challenges the agency faces in carrying out its mission; (7) the plan does identify a number of crosscutting issues; (8) since OPM had not met with stakeholders before developing its plan--as officials stated in their initial consultation with House consulting team members--the draft plan is silent on the Results Act required coordination; (9) in addition, the draft plan does not discuss the status of OPM's efforts to address the formidable federal personnel management problems that have been identified over the years; (10) such a discussion in the plan could assist OPM in the process of refining its goals and objectives as well as inform stakeholders of problems that could impede OPM's efforts to achieve its goals and objectives; (11) OPM's draft plan contains little discussion of the information systems that directly support OPM's role as the administrator and fiduciary for federal employees' benefit programs; (12) these systems are the source of performance information for gauging how well OPM carries out its stewardship of the benefit programs; (13) a discussion of these systems would be valuable to stakeholders since an independent accountant found that key financial systems did not adequately support OPM's financial statements for the Retirement Program and the Health Benefits Program; and (14) other information systems, such as the Central Personnel Data File (CPDF), are also key to assessing OPM's performance but are not mentioned in the plan.

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