Results Act:

Observations on the Department of Transportation's Fiscal Year 2000 Performance Plan

RCED-99-153: Published: May 7, 1999. Publicly Released: May 7, 1999.

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John H. Anderson, Jr
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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO provided information on the Department of Transportation's (DOT) performance plan for fiscal year (FY) 2000, focusing on: (1) the usefulness of DOT's plan in providing a clear picture of intended performance across the Department; (2) the strategies and resources that DOT will use to achieve its goals; and (3) whether DOT's performance information will be credible.

GAO noted that: (1) overall, DOT's performance plan for FY 2000 should be a useful tool for decisionmakers; (2) it provides a clear picture of intended performance across the Department, a specific discussion of the strategies and resources that the Department will use to achieve its goals, and general confidence that the Department's performance information will be credible; (3) DOT's FY 2000 performance plan represents a moderate improvement over the FY 1999 plan in that it indicates some degree of progress in addressing the weaknesses that GAO identified in an assessment of the FY 1999 plan; (4) GAO observed that the FY 1999 plan did not: (a) sufficiently address management challenges facing the Department; (b) consistently link strategic goals, program activities, and performance goals; (c) indicate interagency coordination for crosscutting areas; or (d) provide sufficient information on external factors, the processes and resources for achieving the goals, and the performance data; (5) among the improvements in the FY 2000 plan are more consistent linkages among the program activities and performance goals, additional information on external factors and strategies for achieving the goals, and a more comprehensive discussion of the data's quality; (6) these improvements and other activities indicate that DOT has clearly made good progress in implementing performance-based management; (7) for example, the plan indicates that the Department is incorporating the performance goals into performance agreements between the administrators of DOT's agencies and the Secretary; (8) however, the plan still needs further improvement, especially in explaining how certain management challenges, such as financial management weaknesses, will be addressed; (9) for example, DOT's Office of Inspector General (OIG) reported that the Department's accounting system could not be used as the only source of financial information to prepare its financial statements; (10) while the FY 2000 plan does not address this issue, the Department has recognized the financial reporting deficiencies identified by the OIG and is taking actions to correct them; and (11) the lack of accountability for financial activities is a key challenge that DOT faces in implementing performance-based management.