Observations on the Department of Justice's Fiscal Year 1999 Performance Report and Fiscal Year 2001 Performance Plan

GGD-00-155R: Published: Jun 30, 2000. Publicly Released: Aug 1, 2000.

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Laurie E. Ekstrand
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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed the Department of Justice's (DOJ) fiscal year (FY) 1999 performance report and FY 2001 performance plan required by the Government Performance and Results Act of 1993.

GAO noted that: (1) overall, DOJ's progress in achieving desirable program outcomes cannot be readily determined since the agency has yet to develop performance goals and measures that can objectively capture and describe performance results; (2) DOJ's performance measures are: (a) more output than outcome oriented; (b) do not capture all aspects of performance; or (c) have no stated performance targets; (3) DOJ's measures in relation to the key outcome area--reducing violent crime, including organized crime and drug- and gang-related violence--do not cover the full range of issues that the goal covers and tend to be more output oriented than outcome oriented; (4) though limited in value, these measures show a mixed picture in relation to progress by DOJ in this area; (5) in the key outcome area, reducing the availability or use of illegal drugs, many key measures are problematic because they focus on outputs, such as increased amounts of drugs seized, which can either be a function of improved performance or of increases in the amounts of drugs in the environment that are available for seizure; (6) for most of the measures, targets were not set; (7) in relation to the key outcome area for the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) of providing benefit services that are timely, consistent, fair and of high quality, only the issue of timeliness is assessed as a performance measure, while consistency, fairness, and high quality has no measures; (8) DOJ did not achieve its goal of reducing average prospective case processing time to six months; (9) however, DOJ did report that in relation to naturalization cases, it reduced case time from 27 months to 12 months, which was a significant drop in wait time but shy of the 6-month processing time goal; (10) DOJ translated the key outcome area for INS to secure U.S. borders from illegal immigration into two performance goals: (a) secure the land borders, ports-of-entry, and coasts of the United States against illegal entry; and (b) hamper border and international smuggling; (11) performance measures for the first goal have yet to be set, so progress toward this goal remains unassessed; (12) measures set for the second goal are the number of interceptions of malafide migrants en route to the United States and the number of INS-assisted offshore prosecution of smugglers; (13) in both cases, these output-oriented goals were met; (14) DOJ continues to face a number of management challenges; and (15) GAO identified 16 issues in its observations on DOJ's FY 2000 performance plan that remain management challenges, except for the year 2000 computer problem.

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