Observations on the Department of Health and Human Services' Fiscal Year 2000 Performance Plan

HEHS-99-149R: Published: Jul 20, 1999. Publicly Released: Aug 18, 1999.

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William J. Scanlon
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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed the Department of Health and Human Services' (HHS) fiscal year (FY) 2000 performance plan, focusing on: (1) assessing the usefulness of the agency's plan for decisionmaking; and (2) identifying the degree of improvement the agency's FY 2000 performance plan represents over the FY 1999 plan.

GAO noted that: (1) HHS' FY 2000 annual performance plan consists of a 250-page departmentwide summary and 13 individual agency plans; (2) although the plan more clearly ties performance goals to the Department's strategic plan than the 1999 plan did, HHS' 2000 performance plan provides a limited picture of intended performance across the Department, a limited discussion of strategies and resources the Department will use to achieve its goals, and limited confidence that HHS' performance information will be credible; (3) HHS' FY 2000 performance plan indicates some degree of progress in addressing the weaknesses that GAO identified in its assessment of HHS' 1999 performance plan; (4) in reviewing HHS' FY 1999 plan, GAO observed that the plan could: (a) more consistently set measurable performance goals; (b) provide information about how HHS agencies will coordinate with one another and other performance partners, such as states, to achieve related goals; (c) identify the resources HHS needs to accomplish its goals; (d) discuss how HHS intends to address problems with performance data; and (e) more consistently link performance goals with HHS' mission, strategic goals, and program activities; (5) improvements in the FY 2000 plan include: (a) a description of how Department strategic goals relate to key programs and initiatives, and identification of some agency performance goals that implement Department strategic goals; (b) better descriptions of strategies and resources needed to accomplish performance goals; and (c) better identification of data to be used to measure performance and better discussions of data weaknesses; (6) HHS' FY 2000 performance plan includes an expanded departmentwide summary that links departmental strategic goals to programs and initiatives and selected performance goals and measures from the agencies' performance plans; and (7) the plan identifies the agencies responsible for implementing departmentwide goals.

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