Results Act:

Observations on the Federal Emergency Management Agency's Draft Strategic Plan

RCED-97-204R: Published: Jul 22, 1997. Publicly Released: Aug 5, 1997.

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Judy A. England Joseph
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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed the Federal Emergency Management Agency's (FEMA) draft strategic plan, focusing on whether: (1) it fulfills the requirements of the Government Performance and Results Act and to provide GAO's views on its overall quality; (2) it reflects FEMA's key statutory authorities; (3) it reflects interagency coordination for crosscutting programs, activities, or functions that are similar or complementary to other federal agencies; (4) it addresses major management problems GAO has previously identified; and (5) FEMA had adequate data and information systems to provide sufficiently reliable information for measuring results.

GAO noted that: (1) overall, FEMA's draft strategic plan indicates that the agency has made good progress towards fulfilling the requirements of the Results Act; (2) it focuses on a few strategic goals that are generally results-oriented and well-linked to a mission that reflects consideration of key statutory provisions; (3) the draft plan, however, is missing two of the six critical elements required by the Results Act and OMB's guidance, a relationship between general goals and annual performance goals and a description of the role of program evaluations; (4) the plan could be made more useful to FEMA, the Congress, and other stakeholders by clarifying the linkage among goals, objectives, and strategies and by making other changes to better conform to the Results Act and OMB's guidance; (5) although FEMA's draft strategic plan reflects consideration of the key statutory provisions that authorize FEMA's programs, it does not explicitly reference the major legislation or executive orders that serve as a basis for its mission statement, goals, and strategies; (6) the plan might benefit from explicit references to these authorities and descriptions of how they relate to the agency's goals and objectives; (7) FEMA's draft plan clearly acknowledges that the nation's emergency management system is built on a partnership with states, localities, and individuals; (8) however, it does not reflect the significant role that other federal agencies play in emergency management, particularly in helping communities and individuals recover from the effects of disasters; (9) it might benefit by mentioning the external stakeholders, such as federal agencies with related missions, and how FEMA coordinated with them in developing its plan; (10) the plan does not specifically address certain management issues that GAO and others have previously identified; (11) furthermore, FEMA's draft plan does not directly address financial and information management problems that could hinder the achievement of its strategic goals and objectives; (12) FEMA's capacity to provide reliable information on achieving its goals is uncertain; (13) the performance measures discussed in FEMA's draft plan include approaches for long-term measurement processes that have not yet been developed or propose to use baseline data that are not yet available; and (14) while obtaining information for some performance measures may be difficult, costly, or both, the plan does not discuss what resources may be required to develop the proposed measurement processes and data.

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