Observations on the Department of Energy's Fiscal Year 1999 Accountability Report and Fiscal Years 2000 and 2001 Performance Plans

RCED-00-209R: Published: Jun 30, 2000. Publicly Released: Aug 1, 2000.

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James E. Wells, Jr
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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed the Department of Energy's (DOE) fiscal year (FY) 1999 performance report and FY 2000/2001 performance plans required by the Government Performance and Results Act.

GAO noted that: (1) in its FY 1999 performance report, DOE indicates that it was mostly successful in making progress toward three outcomes; (2) DOE reports it met or exceeded all of its performance goals and measures for FY 1999; (3) DOE's performance plan for FY 2001 continues efforts in these outcome areas, maintaining essentially the same outcomes while adding, deleting, or modifying annual performance goals and measures as appropriate; (4) although DOE's report indicates success in meeting the performance goals and measures in the three outcome areas, GAO could not determine whether DOE had made significant progress toward its overall outcomes in these areas because most of the performance goals and measures DOE used to assess its annual performance are not clear and quantified; (5) GAO found, in most cases, the measures did not sufficiently describe DOE's specific activities and explain how these activities will help achieve the goal, or, when met, indicate how much progress will have been made toward reaching the goal; (6) as a result, GAO could not determine what DOE was trying to accomplish or how it planned to get there; (7) although GAO agrees with DOE's decision to link its performance goals and measures with its budget, DOE did not provide a clear cross-walk with its plans in previous years, making it hard to find specific performance goals in the latest plan; (8) in some cases, DOE does not mention specific performance goals, yet maintains the performance measures from previous years supporting them; (9) the plan also does not discuss the outcome of DOE's implementation of its verification and validation plan or provide any evidence that the data quality is sufficient for assessing DOE's performance; (10) DOE also does not discuss limitations in its data; (11) because of this, GAO continues to lack confidence that the plan's performance data are credible; and (12) DOE's performance plan for FY 2001 addresses major management challenges, but GAO does not believe enough progress has been made to consider any of them resolved.

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