Chemical and Biological Defense:

Program Planning and Evaluation Should Follow Results Act Framework

NSIAD-99-159: Published: Aug 16, 1999. Publicly Released: Aug 23, 1999.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO examined the extent to which the Department of Defense (DOD) has applied the Government Performance and Results Act's outcome-oriented principles to the Chemical and Biological (CB) Defense Program, focusing on whether: (1) CB Defense Program goals are explicit and measurable; (2) the CB Defense Program has performance measures that assess outcomes and impacts rather than outputs and activities; and (3) organizations executing the CB Defense research, development, testing, and evaluation (RDT&E) activities have incorporated Results Act principles in their program planning and evaluation.

GAO noted that: (1) DOD's CB Defense Program in general, and its RDT&E activities in particular, have not incorporated key Results Act principles, as evidenced by the fact that the goals of the program are vague and unmeasurable and do not articulate specific desired impacts; (2) in the absence of explicit and measurable goals, it is difficult to assess whether the program has been successful in achieving its goals; (3) the performance measures of CB Defense Program RDT&E emphasize activities rather than impacts; (4) the program is not being evaluated according to its impact on the defensive or operational capabilities of U.S. forces, either individually or collectively; (5) CB Defense Program planners use roadmaps to track program progress toward meeting chemical and biological defense goals; (6) these goals frequently take the form of advanced concept technology demonstrations; (7) however, the demonstration of a new defensive technology or capability is not a measure of the program's impact or contribution to the military's ability to survive, fight, and win in chemical and biological environments; (8) CB Defense Program research and development organizations have incorporated Results Act principles inconsistently; (9) only one organization had adopted the Results Act planning and evaluation tools; and (10) the remaining research and development organizations cited either the utilization of equivalent planning tools or the unique challenges of evaluating research and development activities as reasons why they had not or could not adopt the Results Act processes.

Recommendation for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: DOD agreed to fully comply with the requirement by March 2001, in the next version of the DOD Nuclear, Biological, and Chemical Defense Annual Report to Congress scheduled for March 2000. DOD provided its first Chemical and Biological Defense Program Performance Plan for fiscal year 2001-2003 to Congress in early 2002. The plan addressed all the elements GAO recommended, specifically, (1) explicit and outcome oriented goals; (2) quantitative or qualitative performance measures; (3) description of how performance data would be validated; (4) description of how RDT&E activities are coordinated to achieve program goals; and (5) identification of human capital, financial and resource challenges or external factors.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should take actions to develop a performance plan for the CB Defense Program based on the outcome-oriented management principles embodied in the Results Act. The plan should be agreed to and supported by the relevant RDT&E organizations and incorporated in DOD's nuclear, biological, and chemical Defense Annual Report to Congress. Specifically, the plan should: (1) establish explicit and outcome-oriented goals linked to warfighters' ability to survive, fight, and win in a CB environment; (2) identify quantitative or qualitative performance measures that can be used to assess progress toward goal achievement; (3) describe how performance data would be validated; (4) describe how RDT&E activities of participating DOD and non-DOD organizations are coordinated to achieve program goals; and (5) identify human capital, financial, and resource challenges or external factors that limit the ability of the program to achieve its goals.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense


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