Government Operations:

Observations on the Department of the Treasury's Fiscal Year 1999 Performance Report and Fiscal Year 2001 Performance Plan

GGD/AIMD-00-231R: Published: Jun 30, 2000. Publicly Released: Aug 1, 2000.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed the Department of the Treasury's fiscal year (FY) 1999 performance report and FY 2001 performance plan required by the Government Performance and Results Act of 1993.

GAO noted that: (1) for the outcome, "tax laws are administered effectively and fairly," GAO could not assess how the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) is performing because it lacks agencywide performance measures for two of its three strategic performance goals (service to each taxpayer and service to all taxpayers) that support this outcome; (2) according to IRS' FY 2001 budget request, it is working to develop other strategic performance measures and expects to complete them in FY 2001; (3) as a result, the proposed FY 2001 performance plan does not include these strategic measures; (4) for the other IRS-related outcome, "less waste, fraud, and error relating to the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC)," no relevant performance measures have been established for assessing progress; (5) IRS' FY 1999 performance report and FY 2001 plan discuss various actions under way or planned and links them to each of IRS' three performance goals; (6) according to IRS' FY 2000 performance plan, IRS is working to develop a measure of EITC compliance; (7) in assessing Treasury's performance on delinquent tax and non-tax debt collection, limitations in the performance measures make it difficult to provide a picture of performance; (8) although the Financial Management Service revised its goal and performance measures related to delinquent non-tax debt collection for FY 2001, those revisions do not address the limitations that GAO identified for its measures; (9) regarding the outcome, "reduced availability or use of illegal drugs," it is difficult to determine Treasury's progress in FY 1999; (10) the performance measures that are relevant to this outcome are primarily output measures--pounds of narcotics seized, and a number of seizures--or are more intermediate outcome measures--the effectiveness of targeting efforts compared to random searches; (11) the U.S. Customs Service recognizes that these data are too narrow to reflect success or failure in meeting goals related to drug trafficking; (12) it is difficult to determine the progress Treasury made in denying criminals access to firearms because the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms had measures that, like the drug-related measures, are generally output measures; (13) Treasury appears to have made some progress toward reducing the risk of violent crime based on its measure of future crimes avoided; (14) Treasury made some progress in addressing its major management challenges in FY 1999; and (15) a few of these management challenges reflect the need for information system changes and thus will require long-term efforts.

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