Observations on the Department of the Interior's Fiscal Year 1999 Performance Report and Fiscal Year 2001 Performance Plan

RCED-00-204R: Published: Jun 1, 2000. Publicly Released: Aug 1, 2000.

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James E. Wells, Jr
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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed the Department of the Interior's (DOI) fiscal year (FY) 1999 performance report and FY 2001 performance plans required by the Government Performance and Results Act.

GAO noted that: (1) beginning with its FY 2000 plan, DOI reorganized its 10 FY 1999 "commitments" into 5 goals; (2) in doing so, its original commitment of maintaining the health of federally managed land, water, and renewable resources became part of a broader goal of protecting the environment and preserving the nation's natural and cultural resources; (3) taken together, the goals associated with this outcome do not yet result in a comprehensive approach to maintaining the health of federally managed land, water, and renewable resources; (4) most of the goals associated with this outcome are activity based or they do not give a sense of where DOI is in progressing in restoring public lands, damaged resources, or natural systems; (5) the National Park Service (NPS) is making progress in satisfying visitors to national parks and increasing the visitors' understanding of park resources; (6) NPS has already surpassed its long-term goals for promoting safety in parks; (7) however, the information on visitors' safety is based on an incident/accident reporting that may be underreporting certain types of incidents such as structural fires; (8) the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) was generally successful in achieving its performance goals to protect and preserve Indian trust lands and trust resources; (9) however, because the annual performance goals for this key outcome are largely output goals, rather than outcome goals, their achievement provides little information on the overall status of Indian trust land and resources; (10) for the Mineral Management Service (MMS), neither the FY 1999 performance report nor the FY 2001 performance plan define or explain key terms--thus making it difficult to assess their FY 1999 performance; (11) the lack of a clear explanation is particularly notable for the mission goals involving safety and the environment; (12) GAO found that some of the 11 management challenges that the DOI Inspector General identified were fully addressed in the performance plan while others were not addressed at all; (13) of these 11 management challenges, 4 were addressed in the plan through goals and measures that were directly applicable to DOI's major management challenges; (14) in another instance, goals and measures were established that were indirectly applicable to a major management challenge; (15) in 2 instances, goals and measures were not established but strategies to address the challenges were provided; and (16) in 4 instances, neither goals, nor measures, nor strategies were established to address major management challenges.

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