Results Act:

Observations on the Department of Transportation's Annual Performance Plan for Fiscal Year 1999

RCED-98-180R: Published: May 12, 1998. Publicly Released: May 12, 1998.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO provided information on the Department of Transportation's (DOT) annual performance plan for fiscal year 1999.

GAO noted that: (1) DOT's performance plan generally provides a clear picture of intended performance across the agency; (2) among its strengths, the plan includes performance goals and measures that cover the program activities in DOT's budget, and the goals and measures are objective, quantified, and useful for assessing progress; (3) however, the plan could be improved by consistently linking strategic goals, program activities, and performance goals; (4) in addition, the plan could be improved by indicating interagency coordination of goals and measures for crosscutting areas consistently discussing DOT's contribution to these areas; (5) the plan generally portrays how DOT's strategies will help achieve the plan's performance goals; (6) the plan describes the operational processes, skills, and technology required to meet the performance goals and links these strategies to DOT's strategic goals; (7) but the plan could be improved in several ways, such as by clearly linking the strategies to the performance goals and providing more information on proposed regulatory efforts and external factors that could affect DOT's ability to meet its goals; (8) in addition, the plan could more clearly describe the resources required to meet the performance goals; (9) finally, the plan provides partial information about DOT's approach to assessing the accuracy, completeness, and credibility of its performance data; (10) the plan provides a general discussion of procedures to verify and validate data, which DOT's managers follow as part of their daily activities; (11) however, the plan could be improved by linking these procedures to specific goals and measures in the plan and by providing additional information on the quality of the data used to measure performance; (12) GAO found that DOT's performance plan reflects improvements to DOT's September 1997 strategic plan in several areas; (13) for example, the strategic plan encompassed all of DOT's programs, but it did not describe how the specific operating administrations were going to contribute to implementing the plan; the performance plan provides this information; (14) in a few areas, however, both plans are equally weak; and (15) both plans discuss corporate management strategies but do not provide adequate descriptions of how these strategies will help achieve DOT's long-term goals.

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