Civil Rights Division:

Fiscal Year 2000 Annual Performance Plan Could Be Improved

GGD-00-90R: Published: Mar 30, 2000. Publicly Released: Apr 14, 2000.

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Laurie E. Ekstrand
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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed the Department of Justice's Civil Rights Division (CRT) fiscal year (FY) 2000 annual performance plan to determine the extent to which the plan had met Government Performance and Results Act (GPRA) requirements and related guidance, focusing on: (1) defining expected performance; (2) addressing the crosscutting nature of its programs; and (3) providing confidence that its performance information was credible.

GAO noted that: (1) CRT's FY 2000 performance plan was the result of CRT's evolving efforts to implement GPRA requirements and meet congressional expectations for information about CRT's performance goals and measures; (2) specifically, CRT's plan included nine goals that, in some cases, cut across CRT's organizational components; (3) the plan also included 268 performance measures that were developed by CRT's 10 program-related sections; (4) however, CRT's plan could be improved to meet the criteria set forth in GPRA and related guidance by using more results-oriented and quantifiable goals and measures to better reflect expected performance; (5) for the most part, the plan addressed whether CRT would complete a set of actions but not necessarily whether those actions would be expected to affect CRT's desired end results; (6) in addition, CRT's plan did not establish a clear link between its performance goals and measures that will be used to show progress toward achieving those goals; (7) according to CRT officials, CRT developed its goals independent of the performance measures for each section; (8) this may have contributed to the unclear linkages between the plan's goals and the performance measures listed for each section; (9) CRT's plan addressed crosscutting efforts by developing goals that recognized its coordination with other entities that have related strategic or performance goals; (10) however, the usefulness of the plan would be enhanced with a fuller description of how each of those agencies had mutually reinforcing strategies or whether common performance measures had been established; (11) GAO also believes that additional details on CRT's efforts to verify and validate performance information would help show Congress and other stakeholders that the data used to measure the intended performance or results are credible; (12) CRT's performance plan did not fully describe the procedures that would be used to verify and validate its performance, noting only that information was supplied by each CRT section and verified and validated by section managers; (13) in addition, the plan identified several sources for its performance data, including its existing case management system and its efforts to implement a new system; and (14) CRT expected that the new system would, among other things, help CRT monitor performance measures to meet GPRA requirements.

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