Managing for Results:

Observations on NASA's Fiscal Year 1999 Performance Plan

NSIAD-98-181: Published: Jun 5, 1998. Publicly Released: Jun 10, 1998.

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Louis J. Rodrigues
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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed the National Aeronautics and Space Administration's (NASA) performance plan for fiscal year (FY) 1999, focusing on: (1) NASA's goals and objectives, including how the agency plans to measure its progress toward achieving these goals and objectives; (2) the agency's strategies and resources needed to achieve its goals; and (3) the availability and reliability of data necessary to achieve progress.

GAO noted that: (1) NASA's FY 1999 performance plan could provide a clearer picture of intended performance across the agency, does not fully portray how NASA's strategies and resources will help it achieve the plan's performance goals, and partially provides confidence that the information NASA will use to assess performance will be accurate, complete, and credible; (2) among its strengths, NASA's performance plan reflects the mission statement and goals in its strategic plan and provides good linkage between these strategic goals and the plan's performance goals and targets; (3) it incorporates performance measures that are generally objective, quantifiable, and useful for assessing progress toward the plan's performance objectives; and provides for annual external assessments by its Advisory Council and semi-annual internal assessments by its Senior Management Council to validate progress toward meeting the agency's goals and objectives; (4) to make the plan more useful for purposes of the Government Performance and Results Act, NASA's performance plan should: (a) better link performance goals and measures to the program activities in NASA's budget; (b) more fully explain NASA's procedures for verifying and validating performance data by recognizing the limitations that affect the credibility of data that will be used to measure performance; and (c) acknowledge NASA's major management challenges and associated corrective actions in order to provide a more comprehensive understanding of the importance of the goals and performance measures chosen for its internal crosscutting processes; (5) some of the concerns GAO has regarding NASA's performance plan are similar to its observations on NASA's strategic plan issued on September 30, 1997; and (6) for example, NASA's strategic plan did not contain evidence that NASA had coordinated the plan with those agencies whose programs and activities complement NASA's and did not discuss the human, capital, and information resources needed to achieve the goals and objectives in the plan.

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