The Results Act:

Observations on the Department of Justice's February 1997 Draft Strategic Plan

GGD-97-153R: Published: Jul 11, 1997. Publicly Released: Jul 15, 1997.

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Norman J. Rabkin
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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed the Department of Justice's (DOJ) draft strategic plan, as required by the Government Performance and Results Act of 1993.

GAO noted that: (1) of the six elements required by the act, three--the relationship between long-term goals/objectives and the annual performance plans, the key factors external to DOJ that could affect DOJ's ability to meet its goals, and a program evaluation component--were not specifically identified in the draft plan; (2) the remaining three elements, the mission statement, goals and objectives, and strategies to achieve the goals and objectives, were discussed; (3) however, each of these elements had weaknesses, some more significant than others; (4) the three elements discussed in DOJ's plan generally contained some, but not all, of the attributes that would be desirable to meet the purposes of the act and to be consistent with the Office of Management and Budget's guidance; (5) the draft plan makes no explicit mention of the other three required elements; (6) with regard to relating long-term goals/objectives to performance plans the plan provided no substantive comment; (7) instead, DOJ stated that the draft plan provides a basis for its components to develop more detailed annual plans and related program performance information; (8) the plan does not contain a section on key external factors; (9) the draft plan appears to reflect consideration of most of DOJ's major statutory responsibilities; (10) however, the plan does not contain specific references to the underlying statutory bases for major functions and operations, provide specifics of how any particular statutory responsibility will be implemented, or provide linkages between the stated goals and objectives and DOJ's relevant statutory authorities that form the basis for them; (11) in addition, the draft plan could be more useful to DOJ, the Congress, and other stakeholders if it provided a more explicit discussion of crosscutting activities, major management challenges, and DOJ's capacity to provide reliable information to manage its programs or determine if it is achieving its strategic goals; (12) the draft plan is silent on crosscutting issues and does not mention whether DOJ coordinated with related external law enforcement stakeholders; (13) the plan is also silent on the formidable management problems GAO and others, including the DOJ Inspector General and the National Performance Review, have identified in recent years; and (14) the plan does not mention how data limitations may affect DOJ's ability to manage its programs or performance.

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