Government Operations:

Observations on the National Aeronautics and Space Administration's Fiscal Year 1999 Performance Report and Fiscal Year 2001 Performance Plan

NSIAD-00-192R: Published: Jun 30, 2000. Publicly Released: Aug 1, 2000.

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Louis J. Rodrigues
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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed the National Aeronautics and Space Administration's (NASA) 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) NASA made progress in meeting its FY 1999 performance targets for the three key agency outcomes included in GAO's assessment; (2) however, GAO also identified several weaknesses; (3) NASA does not provide reasonable assurance in its FY 1999 performance report that the performance information used is credible; (4) discussion of data credibility is limited to stating that each of the program and project managers are fully accountable for the accuracy of the performance information: (5) moreover, the FY 2001 performance plan still does not include an explicit discussion of procedures for verifying and validating the performance data and does not address possible data limitation issues and problems; (6) the FY 2001 performance plan still does not: (a) provide a clear rationale of how information technology-related strategies and programs will contribute to achieving NASA's goals; or (b) show any allocation of information technology-related dollars and personnel to performance goals; (7) of further concern is NASA's intended use of performance indicators starting with FY 2001 performance plan; (8) GAO's specific concern is not related to the indicators themselves but to how NASA plans to use them in assessing whether a performance target has or has not been met; (9) a NASA official indicated that a target could be assessed as having been met even if some of the indicators supporting the target were not achieved; and (10) GAO believes that this approach requires NASA to provide convincing evidence that a desired outcome was met despite the nonachievement of one or more of the supporting indicators.

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