Department of Labor:

Further Strategic Planning and Data Quality Refinements Would Assist in Oversight

T-HEHS-98-249: Published: Sep 28, 1998. Publicly Released: Sep 28, 1998.

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Carlotta C. Joyner
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contact@gao.gov

 

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO discussed the Department of Labor's progress in (1): meeting its strategic planning responsibilities under the Government Performance and Results Act of 1993; and (2) addressing some of the problems with its performance data that GAO identified in its audit work.

GAO noted that: (1) Labor has significantly improved the strategic plan it originally submitted to Congress in September 1997; (2) its revised strategic goals are more focused and better integrate the activities of its component agencies; (3) for example, two of Labor's original six goals have been consolidated to provide a single focus for Labor's efforts in helping people find jobs and to encompass the job training and assistance activities of several of its component agencies, such as the Employment and Training Administration (ETA) and the Women's Bureau; (4) moreover, in comparison with the original plan, Labor now provides more information on how it plans to coordinate its activities with other agencies, such as the Departments of Housing and Urban Development and Health and Human Services, that are trying to achieve the same or similar results; (5) yet further plan improvements are possible, even in areas where Labor has made significant progress; (6) for example, Labor could improve its strategic plan by providing explicit information on how it will address known performance data problems, such as the placement data Job Corps uses, which overstates the extent to which program participants are employed; (7) Labor's record in correcting problems with its performance information is mixed; (8) in some cases, it has made significant progress in addressing data weaknesses; (9) for example, GAO found in prior work that the Occupational Safety and Health Administration's (OSHA) Integrated Management Information System did not always appropriately characterize or fully capture information on employer settlement agreements or reflect timely changes to inspection data on these agreements; (10) such problems limited the extent to which OSHA could effectively manage its inspections program; (11) since GAO's report, Labor has corrected this problem; (12) however, other data quality problems, such as those concerning ETA's Job Corps program, remain largely unaddressed; (13) specifically, GAO found that reported information on the extent to which Job Corps participants completed vocational training and get jobs related to that training is misleading and overstates program results; and (14) Labor still needs to address data quality problems in this and other programs to effectively manage its programs.

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