U.S. Attorneys:

Performance-Based Initiatives are Evolving

GAO-04-422: Published: May 28, 2004. Publicly Released: Jun 18, 2004.

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Paul L. Jones
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Office of Public Affairs
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Within the Department of Justice (DOJ), the 94 U.S. Attorneys Offices represent the United States in criminal and civil matters across the nation. The Government Performance and Results Act (GPRA) of 1993 requires federal agencies, including DOJ, to set goals and objectives, measure performance, and report their accomplishments in order to move toward a performance-based environment. Integral to achieving these goals and objectives is strategic human capital management--the marshalling, managing, and maintaining the human capital needed to maximize government performance and achieve accountability. This report describes (1) how DOJ's strategic goals and objectives apply to U.S. Attorneys, (2) DOJ's plans and efforts to develop performance measures that apply to U.S. Attorneys, (3) the processes DOJ uses for monitoring the performance of U.S. Attorneys Offices, and (4) DOJ efforts to move toward strategic human capital management for U.S. Attorneys Offices.

DOJ has established departmentwide strategic goals and objectives applicable to its components, including U.S. Attorneys. Released in February 2004, DOJ's fiscal year 2005 congressional budget submission showed the two strategic goals and seven strategic objectives applicable to U.S. Attorneys. DOJ has developed performance measures for U.S. Attorneys' activities, and the Executive Office for United States Attorneys (EOUSA) is exploring ways to measure performance in individual U.S. Attorneys Offices. Performance measures covering U.S. Attorneys continue to evolve. DOJ's fiscal year 2005 congressional budget submission included an outcome measure--percentage of cases favorably resolved--that is intended to show how U.S. Attorneys contribute to DOJ's overall mission. According to DOJ budget officials, these measures will be revised as DOJ gains more experience with performance-based budgeting. EOUSA is also developing performance initiatives, for example, implementing a DOJ initiative to curb gun violence, which includes developing related performance measures. DOJ is undertaking initiatives to provide better tools for monitoring the performance of U.S. Attorneys Offices. EOUSA has redesigned its internal evaluation program and begun implementing a new process for collecting and analyzing information to assess each U.S. Attorneys Office's progress toward addressing DOJ's priorities and meeting performance expectations. According to DOJ officials, these tools will continue to evolve. DOJ and EOUSA have taken steps to integrate performance-based strategic human capital management into day-to-day operations, including those of U.S. Attorneys Offices. Among other things, EOUSA is exploring how to integrate DOJ strategic goals and objectives with individual performance expectations.

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