Results Act:

Observations on the Department of Transportation's Draft Strategic Plan

RCED-97-208R: Published: Jul 30, 1997. Publicly Released: Jul 30, 1997.

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John H. Anderson, Jr
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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed the draft strategic plan submitted by the Department of Transportation (DOT), as required by the Government Performance and Results Act of 1993.

GAO noted that: (1) DOT has undertaken a significant amount of work collecting and analyzing information while preparing its draft strategic plan; (2) the plan, however, does not reflect enough of this information and, overall, is so general that clearly identifying DOT's priorities is difficult; (3) the plan does not meet the act's requirements to describe: (a) strategies for achieving DOT's long-term goals; (b) a linkage between DOT's long-term goals and annual performance goals; and (c) those key external factors that could significantly affect DOT's achieving its goals; (4) DOT's draft strategic plan appears to reflect the Department's key statutory authorities; (5) however, because the plan lacks precision, these statutory authorities are reflected at a very high level of generality; (6) the plan does not show evidence that the Department coordinated with other agencies that have programs and activities that are crosscutting or similar to DOT's; (7) the plan recognizes that there are other stakeholders for DOT's long-term goals and provides for building or establishing partnerships with these federal, state, and local governments and the transportation industry; (8) however, except for the Department of Defense, the plan does not identify specific stakeholders; (9) the plan does not identify the crosscutting or overlapping programs, explain how the activities and programs of other stakeholders could affect DOT's achieving the goals, and describe how DOT plans to coordinate with other stakeholders; (10) DOT's draft strategic plan does not adequately address major management challenges and high-risk areas that GAO has previously identified in its reports and testimonies; (11) addressing these issues is critical to ensuring that strategies are in place to meet the Department's goals; (12) DOT's ability to produce reliable performance information is uncertain; (13) the plan is unclear about what information DOT will need to measure its performance; (14) GAO's previous work has indicated that DOT has difficulty producing reliable data to document performance and support decision-making at the program level; and (15) DOT's pilot projects under the Results Act have acknowledged data limitations.

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