The Results Act:

Observations on DOD's Draft Strategic Plan

NSIAD-97-219R: Published: Aug 5, 1997. Publicly Released: Aug 27, 1997.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed the draft strategic plan submitted by the Department of Defense (DOD) as required by the Government Performance and Results Act.

GAO noted that: (1) DOD's draft plan includes discussions of each of the six critical components required in strategic plans; (2) overall, while some of the plan's components are of higher quality than others, the plan represents an adequate start for addressing the requirements of the Results Act; (3) the draft plan contains a succinct mission statement and general goals and objectives that cover DOD's major functions and operations; (4) however, the overall plan could be improved by clarifying sections, adding information, and improving the plan's format; (5) the plan's overall quality could be enhanced by: (a) stating more completely and explicitly its strategies for achieving each goal and including schedules for initiating and completing significant actions; (b) discussing more clearly how external factors link to and could affect achieving its goals; (c) describing in more detail the program evaluations used in establishing its strategic goals and identifying the key issues to be addressed in future evaluations; (d) addressing what DOD has done or plans to do to resolve its persistent management problems, including specific steps it plans to take, the time frames and resources needed to implement its plans, and identification of any external factors that could impede resolution; (e) beginning now to work closely with Congress and other stakeholders in developing performance goals and measures; (f) identifying programs and activities that crosscut with other agencies' programs and discussing how those efforts are being coordinated; and (g) developing one clear and succinct document primarily based on the Quadrennial Defense Review and formatted to correspond with the Results Act's requirements and the other expectations for Results Act plans; (6) DOD's plan included some discussion of formidable management problems DOD currently faces; (7) these problems are important because they could affect DOD's ability to meet its strategic goals and objectives; (8) however, DOD's discussions of management problems could be more complete; (9) the significant problems DOD faces with managing its contract operations were not discussed; and (10) DOD's major concern about the reliability of program-related and financial management information systems does not mention how data limitations would affect its ability to measure performance and ultimately to effectively manage its programs.

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