Department of the Interior:

Observations on Performance Plan and Other Management Issues

T-RCED/AIMD-98-173: Published: Apr 22, 1998. Publicly Released: Apr 22, 1998.

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GAO discussed its views on several important management issues facing the Department of the Interior, focusing on: (1) Interior's plans for measuring its performance as required by the Government Performance and Results Act of 1993; (2) whether major management problems GAO has reported on are being addressed in the agency's performance plan; and (3) financial management issues at Interior.

GAO noted that: (1) Interior's performance plan is not user-friendly; (2) it consists of nine-components--a departmental overview and eight subagency plans which have to be reviewed in conjunction with the budget justifications; (3) understanding the totality of what the plans contain is an overwhelming and time-consuming task involving a review of about 3,500 pages of material; (4) on a more substantive level, the plan does not adequately provide a clear picture of intended performance across the Department, sufficiently discuss the strategies and resources that it will use to achieve its performance goals, or provide sufficient confidence that its performance information will be credible; (5) GAO's past work at Interior has identified a number of major management problems; (6) among these are Interior's need to: (a) more effectively manage Indian trust funds and assets; (b) better coordinate crosscutting activities to avoid duplication and overlap; (c) adequately assess the National Park Service's (NPS) employee housing needs; (d) provide adequate oversight and accountability over its field offices; and (e) have better information available for managing the nation's natural resources; (7) the Results Act provides Interior with an opportunity to address these concerns through the development and implementation of its performance plan; (8) GAO found, however, that while Interior has addressed some of GAO's concerns, it has not addressed all of them; (9) over the past five years, Interior's subagencies have made steady progress in preparing reliable financial statements; (10) however, even though most subagencies received clean audit opinions, accounting and internal control weaknesses persist at several subagencies; (11) these weaknesses relate to accounting and internal controls over accounts receivable, revenue, real and personal property, and controls over computer systems; and (12) Interior has efforts under way to address many of these problem areas.

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