Agency Performance Plans:

Examples of Practices That Can Improve Usefulness to Decisionmakers

GGD/AIMD-99-69: Published: Feb 26, 1999. Publicly Released: Feb 26, 1999.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO: (1) identified and described practices that were applied in some federal agencies' 1999 performance plans that might, if consistently applied, improve the usefulness of all agencies' annual performance plans; and (2) provided examples from agencies' fiscal year 1999 performance plans that illustrate each practice.

GAO noted that: (1) opportunities to improve the usefulness of annual plans include: (a) creating a set of performance goals and measures that addresses important dimensions of program performance and balances competing priorities; (b) using intermediate goals and measure to show progress or contribution to intended results; (c) including explanatory information on the goals and measures; (d) developing performance goals to address mission-critical management problems; (e) showing baseline and trend data for past performance; (f) identifying projected target levels of performance for multiyear goals; and (g) linking the goals of component organizations to departmental strategic goals; (2) to coordinate crosscutting programs, agencies should: (a) identify programs that contribute to the same or similar results; (b) set complementary performance goals to show how differing program strategies are mutually reinforcing and establishing common or complementary performance measures, as appropriate; and (c) describe--briefly or refer to a separate document--planned coordination strategies; (3) to show how strategies will be used to achieve goals, agencies should: (a) link strategies and programs to specific performance goals and describe how they will contribute to the achievement of those goals; (b) describe strategies to leverage or mitigate the effects of external factors on the accomplishment of performance goals; (c) discuss strategies to resolve mission-critical management problems; and (d) discuss--briefly or refer to a separate document--plans to ensure that mission-critical processes and information systems function properly and are secures; (4) to show performance consequences of budget and other resources decisions, agencies should: (a) show how budgetary resources relate to the achievement of performance goals; (b) discuss--briefly and refer to the agency capital plan--how proposed capital assets (specifically information technology investments will contribute to achieving performance goals; and (c) discuss--briefly or refer to a separate plan--how the agency will use its human capital to help achieve performance goals; and (5) to build the capacity to gather and use performance information, agencies should identify internal and external sources for data.

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