Inspectors General:

Efforts to Develop Strategic Plans

AIMD-98-112: Published: Jun 12, 1998. Publicly Released: Jun 12, 1998.

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David L. Clark, Jr
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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO provided information on inspectors general (IG) strategic planning efforts, focusing on: (1) which IGs presently prepare strategic plans; (2) the extent to which strategic plans were consistent with the Government Performance and Results Act requirements; (3) additional information IGs included in their strategic plans; (4) the extent to which IGs used their respective agencies' strategic plans to develop their own plans; (5) the extent to which IGs have been involved in developing their agencies' strategic plans; (6) the extent to which a strategic plan prepared consistent with the requirements of the Results Act would be useful to Congress, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), and the IG; and (7) IGs' views on statutorily requiring them to prepare strategic plans.

GAO noted that: (1) the 48 IGs that it surveyed indicated that they were all engaged in strategic planning efforts; (2) thirty-nine IGs reported that they had completed strategic plans, with the remaining 9 stating that they planned to complete their plans during 1998; (3) most IGs were of the opinion that the requirements contained in the Results Act provided an appropriate framework for preparing IG strategic plans; (4) further, the IGs responded that their plans address many of the elements that the Results Act requires for agency plans; (5) however, fewer IG plans addressed such elements as the relationship between general goals and annual performance goals and identification of external factors that could affect achievement of goals; (6) in addition, the plans addressed key management issues to varying degrees; (7) the IGs GAO surveyed generally indicated that these management issues, if not included in their strategic plans, were covered in other planning documents such as annual audit plans; (8) most IGs also indicated that they considered the agency's Results Act strategic plan at least to some extent in preparing their own plan; (9) in addition, more than half of all the IGs reported that they had at least some involvement in preparing the agency's strategic plan; (10) a majority believed that a strategic plan that satisfies the requirements of the Results Act would be useful to Congress, OMB, and the IG in assessing IG performance and operations; (11) the IGs were about evenly divided on the need for a statutory requirement on strategic planning; (12) overall, about 29 percent agreed, 33 percent disagreed, 27 percent agreed as much as disagreed, and the remaining 10 percent had no opinion; and (13) of the IGs that cited a reason for their disagreement, the most frequent comment made was that such a mandate was unnecessary because IGs recognize the importance of strategic planning as a basic part of good management and are already engaged in planning efforts.

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