Results Act:

Observations on the Department of Education's Fiscal Year 1999 Annual Performance Plan

HEHS-98-172R: Published: Jun 8, 1998. Publicly Released: Jun 8, 1998.

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Carlotta C. Joyner
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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO provided information on the Department of Education's annual performance plan for fiscal year (FY) 1999. Education's performance plan consists of two volumes: (1) volume 1 consists of performance measures, performance goals, and key strategies for FY 1999 for each of Education's 22 strategic objectives; and (2) volume 2 consists of 99 individual program performance plans that cover Education's programs.

GAO noted that: (1) Education's performance plan could provide a more complete picture of its intended performance across the agency; (2) while many of the performance goals and measures in volume 1 are generally objective, measurable, quantifiable, and useful for assessing progress, many in volume 2 are not; (3) this could affect Education's ability to assess its performance; (4) while the performance plan reflects the mission statement and strategic goals in the strategic plan and provides a clear link between strategic goals and the performance goals and measures in volume 1, it could more directly link: (a) volume 1 performance goals and measures with the program activities in Education's budget request; and (b) the goals and measures in the individual 99 program performance plans with Education's strategic objectives; (5) Education's plan could more fully discuss the strategies and resources to be used to achieve its annual performance goals; (6) the plan has a limited discussion of how Education's strategies and resources will help achieve its annual FY 1999 performance goals; (7) for certain performance goals and measures, however, the plan does not clearly convey how the strategies and resources will achieve the plan's goals; (8) while the plan allocates Education's FY 1999 budget request among its four strategic goals and 22 strategic objectives, it does not fully describe the human or technology resources that Education will need to achieve the plan's FY 1999 goals; (9) Education's plan does not provide sufficient confidence that its elementary and secondary education performance information will be credible, even though it adequately addresses how it plans to validate and verify performance information for its postsecondary--and to some extent its elementary and secondary education--programs; (10) volume 1 of the plan discusses how Education will ensure that its performance information is timely, valid, and reliable; (11) however, the plan does not sufficiently recognize limitations in the agency's data for its elementary and secondary education programs; (12) in particular, the plan indicates when elementary and secondary education performance data would come from sources external to Education but does not state or recognize known limitations to these external data; and (13) without recognizing and addressing significant data limitations, Education's plan cannot provide sufficient confidence that its performance information will be credible.

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