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Observations on the Social Security Administration's Fiscal Year 2000 Performance Plan

HEHS-99-162R: Published: Jul 20, 1999. Publicly Released: Aug 18, 1999.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed the Social Security Administration's (SSA) fiscal year (FY) 2000 performance plan, focusing on: (1) assessing the usefulness of the agency's plan for decisionmaking; and (2) identifying the degree of improvement the agency's FY 2000 performance plan represents over the FY 1999 plan.

GAO noted that: (1) SSA's FY 2000 annual performance plan provides a clear picture of intended performance across the agency, a general discussion of strategies and resources the agency will use to achieve its goals, and general confidence that agency performance information will be credible; (2) SSA's FY 2000 plan represents much improvement over the FY 1999 plan in that it is well on its way to addressing all of the weaknesses that GAO identified in its assessment of the prior plan; (3) among improvements in the FY 2000 plan is the addition of several key performance goals and an overall improvement in the quality and clarity of many other goals and measures necessary to determine intended performance and assess success; (4) in addition to output measures, SSA's plan notes that the agency will develop more outcome oriented barometer measures in FY 2000 to serve as indicators of SSA's ultimate impact in providing an adequate base of economic security to those served; (5) to meet SSA's strategic objective to provide the necessary tools and training to achieve a highly skilled and high-performing workforce, the plan also now includes intermediate goals regarding the number of staff who participate in management development programs, and explains SSA's rationale for establishing its goals at those levels; (6) SSA's plan has been further improved in that it provides key information on crosscutting activities and actions taken to coordinate SSA's activities with other agencies having related goals; (7) SSA's plan represents much improvement over the prior plan as it relates to providing a specific discussion of strategies and resources the agency will use to achieve its performance goals; (8) SSA has also added clarifying text to its strategic objectives and performance goals to better illustrate how they will contribute to broader strategic goals; and (9) SSA's FY 2000 performance plan represents much improvement over the prior plan in that it describes key strategies for verifying and validating performance measures, and as such, provides general confidence that the agency's performance information will be credible.

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