Government Operations:

Observations on the National Aeronautics and Space Administration's Fiscal Year 2000 Performance Plan

NSIAD-99-186R: Published: Jul 20, 1999. Publicly Released: Aug 18, 1999.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed the National Aeronautics and Space Administration's (NASA) fiscal year (FY) 2000 performance plan, which was submitted to Congress in response to the Government Performance and Results Act of 1993, 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) NASA's FY 2000 annual performance plan should be useful to decisionmakers; (2) it provides a limited picture of intended performance across the agency, a general discussion of strategies and resources the agency will use to achieve its goals, and limited confidence that performance information will be credible; (3) an example of a positive change regarding the plan's presentation of strategies and goals is the discussion on NASA's objective of extending the use of Earth Science research for national, state, and local application; (4) the plan links that objective with the achievement of three performance goals, namely having at least one Regional Earth Science Application become self-sustaining, developing at least two new data products for routine decision-making by user organizations, and implementing at least 5 joint applications research projects/partnerships with state and local governments in remote sensing applications; (5) NASA's FY 2000 plan represents a moderate improvement over the FY 1999 plan in that it indicates some degree of progress in addressing the weaknesses identified in GAO's assessment of the FY 1999 plan; (6) in reviewing the FY 1999 plan, GAO observed that the plan could have provided a clearer picture of intended performance across the agency, did not fully portray how strategies and resources would help achieve performance goals, and partially provided confidence that performance information would be credible; and (7) among improvements in the FY 2000 plan is the inclusion of: (a) performance objectives or targets that fully or partially address 5 of 10 management challenges identified by NASA's Office of the Inspector General or GAO; (b) a crosswalk to relate budget categories with performance objectives and targets; and (c) expanded detail on internal and external evaluations of performance.

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