Chemical and Biological Defense:

Program Planning and Evaluation Should Follow Results Act Framework

T-NSIAD-00-180: Published: May 24, 2000. Publicly Released: May 24, 2000.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO discussed the Department of Defense's (DOD) application of the Government Performance and Results Act in its Chemical and Biological Defense Program.

GAO noted that: (1) congressional reports and administrative guidance indicate that DOD programs such as the Chemical and Biological Defense Program should follow the Results Act's outcome-oriented principles, including the establishment of general goals (quantifiable, measurable, outcome-oriented performance goals) and related measures; (2) moreover, research organizations such as the Research Roundtable, the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering, and the Institute of Medicine have concluded that both applied and basic research programs supported by the federal government could be evaluated meaningfully in accordance with the Results Act framework; (3) DOD's Chemical and Biological Defense Program in general, and its research and development (R&D) activities in particular, have not incorporated key Results Act principles; (4) program goals are vague and unmeasurable and the performance measures emphasize activities rather than impacts; (5) in the absence of explicit and measurable goals, it is difficult to assess the impact of the program on warfighters' ability to survive, fight, and win in a chemical and biological environment; (6) Chemical and Biological Defense Program R&D organizations have incorporated Results Act principles inconsistently; (7) only one of three DOD organizations that engage in R&D activities in support of the Chemical and Biological Defense Program has adopted the Results Act planning and evaluation tools; and (8) the remaining two cited either the utilization of equivalent planning tools or the unique challenges of evaluating R&D activities as reasons for not adopting the Results Act processes.

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