Observations on the Department of Commerce's Fiscal Year 1999 Annual Program Performance Report and Fiscal Year 2001 Annual Performance Plan

GGD-00-152R: Published: Jun 30, 2000. Publicly Released: Aug 1, 2000.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed the Department of Commerce's fiscal year (FY) 1999 annual program performance report and FY 2001 annual performance plan required by the Government Performance and Results Act of 1993 (GPRA).

GAO noted that: (1) Commerce's FY 1999 performance report indicated that the agency made some progress concerning key outcomes; (2) Commerce used measurable goals that were related to the key outcomes, and therefore a quantifiable picture of performance was available; (3) however, although indications of progress can be gleaned from the performance report, several factors impeded a clear understanding of how well Commerce is meeting its intended goals related to the key outcomes; (4) although certain limitations existed in Commerce's FY 1999 performance report, the report as well as the FY 2001 performance plan reflect Commerce's continuing efforts to improve its performance planning; (5) in its section of the FY 1999 performance report, the Bureau of Export Administration (BXA) reported that it met or exceeded various performance measures for the key outcome related to securing the U.S. from proliferation of dual-use commodities and chemical weapons; (6) nevertheless, it is not clear how much progress BXA made in meeting its two FY 1999 performance goals related to this key outcome; (7) the Economic Development Administration (EDA) has made some progress in meeting the two FY 1999 performance goals related to the outcome to create jobs and private enterprise in economically distressed communities and to build local capacity to achieve and sustain economic growth; (8) EDA reported that it met or exceeded its target for 6 of the 12 measures related to these goals; (9) EDA's efforts to provide a clear picture of intended performance in its FY 2001 performance plan were mixed; (10) according to the measures used by the International Trade Administration, it achieved some success in assisting U.S. businesses to gain access to international markets; (11) the FY 2001 performance plan addressed some but not all of the key weaknesses identified in GAO's past work; (12) the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration had some success in meeting its goal related to advancing short-term warning and forecast services; (13) however, for five other measures, it was not able to fully achieve the results it had intended; (14) regarding Commerce's major management challenges identified by GAO and the Commerce Inspector General, the FY 1999 performance report discussed the agency's progress on some of the challenges; and (15) although the FY 2001 performance plan did not provide goals and measures for most of the challenges, it provided some explanation of its strategy for addressing 9 of the 10 challenges.

Recommendation for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: Commerce's combined fiscal year 2000 performance report and fiscal year 2002 performance plan is responsive to all three of these recommendations. Commerce clearly showed whether performance targets were met or not met, described the target and actual performance for a given fiscal year, and generally explained why targets were not met.

    Recommendation: Consistent with GPRA, Office of Management and Budget Circular A-11, and related guidance, the Secretary of Commerce should ensure that the FY 2000 performance report: (1) classify performance measures as met or unmet to more clearly communicate the agency's performance; (2) consistently explain why targets were not met when differences occur between actual and targeted performance; and (3) provide information about plans and schedules for meeting targets when they are not met.

    Agency Affected: Department of Commerce


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