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

HEHS-00-128R: Published: Jun 30, 2000. Publicly Released: Aug 1, 2000.

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Cynthia Maher Fagnoni
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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed the Department of Education's fiscal year (FY) 1999 performance report and FY 2001 performance plans required by the Government Performance and Results Act.

GAO noted that: (1) Education established seven indicators to address the outcome that all students reach challenging academic standards; (2) according to the performance report, data for FY 1999 are not yet available to report progress on six of these indicators; (3) the one indicator Education reports meeting for this outcome is increasing the number of high school students that successfully complete advanced placement courses each year; (4) Education plans to continue to work toward achieving all seven indicators, noting the need to act in partnership with state and local school authorities; (5) there are no goals or objectives that directly address the outcome of less fraud, waste, and error in the student financial assistance programs; (6) Education's performance objective to make schools strong, safe, disciplined, and drug free has only partially been addressed; (7) the performance report indicates the target for one measurement indicator--reducing the prevalence of past month use of illicit drugs and alcohol by 20 percent from 1996--was not met; (8) another--reducing alcohol and drug use in schools--was exceeded; (9) the report also states progress has been made in reaching the target for another indicator to reduce the number of criminal and violent incidents in schools by students; (10) Education's performance objective to have greater public school choice available to students and families has also been only partially addressed; (11) the FY 1999 performance report indicates that interim targets for two indicators were exceeded--by 2002, 3,000 charter schools will be operating nationwide, with at least 40 states having charter school legislation by 2001; (12) however, the target for another indicator--increasing the number of public school students in grades 3 through 12 attending a school they or their parents chose--was not met; (13) the target for 1999 was 18 percent of public school students--15 percent were found to be able to choose their school; (14) to address the lack of adequate financial data, the performance plan included an indicator stating that, by the year 2000, all Education program managers will assert that the data used for their program's performance measurement are reliable, valid, and timely, or will have plans for improvement; and (15) to address challenges associated with ensuring accountability, security, and legal enforceability for paperless systems for student aid program fund delivery, the plan refers to strategies for achieving objectives associated with reducing program unit costs and increasing customer satisfaction.

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