The Results Act:

Observations on the Department of Education's June 1997 Draft Strategic Plan

HEHS-97-176R: Published: Jul 18, 1997. Publicly Released: Jul 25, 1997.

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Carlotta C. Joyner
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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed the Department of Education's draft strategic plan required by the Government Performance and Results Act of 1993 (the Results Act).

GAO noted that: (1) overall, the Department's draft plan is a useful document and includes almost all the elements required by the Results Act; (2) the plan's long-term goals and objectives are succinct and logically linked to its mission statement; (3) the quality of the goals and objectives reflects the Department's thoughtful deliberation in its efforts to comply with the Results Act; (4) the department's draft strategic plan includes information that the agency will use to develop its annual performance plan; (5) although this information was not required, it illustrates the Department's preliminary thinking on performance measures and targets; (6) the draft strategic plan addresses in some form all of the Department's major statutory responsibilities; (7) GAO's review of the department's draft plan indicates, however, that the plan could benefit from more information, clarity, and context in some of is components; (8) specifically, the plan should include an explanation of the relationship between its long-term goals and objectives and its annual performance goals as well as a complete description and schedule of program evaluations in accordance with the Results Act; (9) the plan could also better address the Department's major statutory responsibilities; (10) for example, the plan's long-term goals and objectives do not address the Department's responsibilities for enforcing and monitoring civil rights related to education, an activity identified by the Department as a key agency function; (11) in addition, the narrative supporting the department's mission statement does not address the Department's major statutory responsibilities for basic education for adults, vocational rehabilitation, education of individuals with disabilities, or school-to-work opportunities; (12) the Department's plan would be improved if it provided a context for stakeholders by discussing in more detail the management challenges the Department faces, since such problems could affect its ability to fulfill certain goals; and (13) on the basis of GAO's past work, GAO believes that the Department does not have the data systems necessary to complement two of its objectives related to ensuring sound information technology investments and financial integrity.

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