Observations on the Federal Emergency Management Agency's Fiscal Year 2000 Performance Plan

RCED-99-226R: Published: Jul 20, 1999. Publicly Released: Aug 18, 1999.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed the Federal Emergency Management Agency's (FEMA) fiscal year (FY) 2000 performance plan, which was submitted to Congress as required by the Government Performance and Results Act of 1993, focusing on the: (1) usefulness of the agency's plan for decisionmaking; and (2) degree of improvement the agency's FY 2000 performance plan represents over the FY 1999 plan.

GAO noted that: (1) FEMA's FY 2000 annual performance plan provides a general picture of intended performance across the agency and a general discussion of strategies and resources the agency will use to achieve its performance goals; (2) however, the plan provides limited confidence that the agency's performance information will be credible and it does not identify the external factors that could affect FEMA's ability to achieve its performance goals and the actions FEMA can take to mitigate these factors; (3) FEMA's FY 2000 performance plan recognizes some of the weaknesses that GAO identified in its assessment of the FY 1999 performance plan and makes specific commitments to address some of those weaknesses; (4) however, real progress is not yet evident in addressing all of the prior weaknesses GAO noted; (5) therefore, the FY 2000 plan represents little improvement over the FY 1999 plan; (6) for example, in reviewing the FY 1999 plan, GAO observed that the plan did not: (a) identify the external factors that could affect FEMA's ability to achieve its performance goals and the actions FEMA can take to mitigate these factors; (b) identify significant limitations potentially affecting the credibility of the data used to measure performance; or (c) provide a full description of the procedures for verifying and validating performance data; (7) only limited progress has been made in addressing these concerns in the FY 2000 performance plan; (8) however, among the improvements in the FY 2000 plan are the use of established baselines to measure the agency's progress in meeting its performance goals; (9) the performance indicators for this goal include references to 5-percent changes from FY 1999 baselines, including a 5-percent reduction in the percentage of assets lost or damaged and a 5-percent reduction in the time between receiving and shipping orders for supplies; (10) other improvements include a general listing of federal agencies with missions and activities that complement FEMA's, linkage between budget accounts and annual performance goals, and a reduction in the number of operational objectives and annual performance goals; and (11) additionally, the plan does not recognize the limitations with the internal sources of data it intends to use to assess performance, nor does it clearly describe credible and specific procedures that will be used to verify and validate performance data.

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