Observations on the Department of Health and Human Services' Fiscal Year 1999 Performance Report and Fiscal Year 2001 Performance Plan

HEHS-00-127R: Published: Jun 30, 2000. Publicly Released: Aug 1, 2000.

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William J. Scanlon
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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed the Department of Health and Human Service's (HHS) fiscal year (FY) 1999 performance report and FY 2001 performance plan required by Government Performance and Results Act.

GAO noted that: (1) HHS generally met its FY 1999 goals in improving waste, fraud, and error in Medicare and Medicaid; (2) HHS has recognized that having specific error rates for contractors, providers, and beneficiary services could better target program integrity efforts and has set goals to develop improved measures; (3) HHS has made progress in working toward ensuring that nursing home residents receive high-quality care in a safe environment; (4) the Health Care Financing Administration (HCFA) reported that it had exceeded its 1999 target for reducing the prevalence of restraints in long-term care facilities, but its 2001 performance plan does not fully address the agency's overall performance in implementing the broad range of ongoing nursing home initiatives, including preventing dehydration and malnutrition and combating resident abuse; (5) FY 1999 goals for helping poor and disadvantaged families and individuals become self-sufficient cannot be determined because data generally are not available for the performance measures associated with these goals; (6) HHS' performance report acknowledges that time lags in obtaining the data from states make it difficult to provide a comprehensive summary of agency performance; (7) HHS' performance report does not indicate how the agency plans to address this problem; (8) HHS' progress toward achieving improved prevention of diseases and disabilities cannot be determined because the performance data provided for FY 1999 showed only about one-third of its targeted performance measures; (9) HHS' agencies with prevention goals demonstrate a keen awareness of the ways they can work together with their state and local government to enhance their programs to improve prevention of disease and disability; (10) HHS and its Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) made progress in FY 1999 in reducing the use of illegal drugs; (11) SAMHSA met or exceeded its FY 1999 targets for the development and implementation of prevention and treatment interventions in selected study areas; (12) HHS' FY 1999 performance plan established an important performance measure that should provide state-level data on the effectiveness of substance abuse treatment services; and (13) HHS' progress in the public's having prompt access to safe and effective medical drugs and devices cannot be determined because performance data for many of the Food and Drug Administration's FY 1999 performance goals are missing and some of its targets are not measurable.

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