Observations on the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Civil Works Program's Draft Strategic Plan
RCED-98-13R: Published: Oct 8, 1997. Publicly Released: Oct 8, 1997.
Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Civil Works Program draft strategic plan, as required by the Government Performance and Results Act.
GAO noted that: (1) to its credit, the Corps has been actively pursuing initiatives to improve strategic planning over the years; (2) however, the Corps' draft plan for its Civil Works program does not provide the Congress with complete information for its consultation; (3) much of what it does present is extremely general and would be difficult to use for decisionmaking; (4) moreover, it does not address such required matters as the key external factors affecting the achievement of the goals it describes and the role of program evaluation in the effort; (5) the Congress is also missing some information that, while not required by the Results Act, would be of significant benefit in the consultation process; (6) the draft plan refers to some key statutory authorities, but the general nature of the discussion in the draft plan and the wide range of statutes affecting the Corps precluded GAO's determining the comprehensiveness of the draft plan's coverage of the issue; (7) prior to its release in August, the draft plan had not been shared with other executive branch agencies with roles to play in areas of the Corps' activities, and the draft plan does not identify programs and activities that are crosscutting or similar to those of other federal agencies; (8) yet the Corps' missions clearly overlap with the activities of other agencies such as the Department of the Interior's Bureau of Reclamation, the Department of Energy Marketing Administrations, and the Environmental Protection Agency; (9) GAO's review also found that the draft plan does not address major management problems identified in the past or the adequacy of the systems that are to provide needed information for monitoring implementation; (10) although many of the Corps' strategic goals rely on the effective use of telecommunications and automated systems, the draft plan does not discuss how the Corps intends to use its information resources to meet its goals; (11) furthermore, the draft plan does not mention how the Corps will build the staff skills needed to develop and manage its information infrastructure; and (12) nor does the Corps discuss how it plans to address the "year 2000" computer problem and to improve its information security-two general issues that GAO has identified as high risk across the government.