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

HEHS-00-125R: Published: Jun 30, 2000. Publicly Released: Aug 1, 2000.

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

GAO noted that: (1) DOL appears to be making progress toward achieving most of the key outcomes GAO assessed; (2) DOL met many of its FY 1999 goals related to reducing workplace injuries, illnesses, and fatalities; (3) to determine its performance for reducing injuries, DOL conducted a program evaluation that analyzed, for selected cases, injury and illness data both before and after DOL intervened; (4) according to DOL, it achieved its goal in part by using both targeted and alternative enforcement strategies; (5) in the future, DOL plans to continue to target its efforts toward improving the safety and health programs of high-hazard employers and those with the worst safety and health programs; (6) although DOL met many goals related to its job training programs, its FY 1999 performance goals, by and large, do not incorporate job retention measures or, when they do, focus only on the short-term; (7) for future years, DOL has raised performance goals for this outcome by incorporating increasingly higher levels of target performance in terms of job placement and wage rates as well as longer term measures of job retention; (8) DOL also met many of its goals in terms of protecting a variety of workers' benefits, such as meeting or exceeding targets for paying unemployment insurance promptly, promulgating regulations under the Newborns' and Mothers' Health Protection Act, and expanding pension coverage to enhance workers' security in their retirement years;(9) DOL relies on the results of the Current Population Survey (CPS) to determine the number of workers covered by pensions; (10) however, without conducting a program evaluation that establishes a relationship between DOL's efforts to increase the number of workers covered by pensions and the results of the CPS, DOL cannot know whether its efforts are reflected in differences measured by CPS or whether its efforts are cost-efficient or effective; (11) while DOL exceeded its job placement goal for FY 1999, it does not discuss in its performance report the scope of program activities, which would help clarify the impact the program has had to date; (12) overall, DOL's performance report and FY 2001 plan do not directly or comprehensively address its progress in resolving the major management challenges identified by GAO and DOL's Inspector General; and (13) rather, DOL's report typically discuss various strategies or crosscutting efforts that indirectly address the challenges.

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