This report reviews the Department of Energy's (DOE) fiscal year 2002 performance report and fiscal 2002 performance plan as required by the Government Performance and Results Act of 1993 to assess DOE's progress in achieving five key outcomes identified as important mission areas for the agency. GAO found that DOE's performance report did not always effectively demonstrate the agency's progress in achieving its outcomes because it included (1) unclear, jargon-laden measures that did not always support superceeding objectives, (2) performance assessments that were inconsistent with actual performance, (3) objectives with insufficient performance measures, and (4) a lack of explanation for shortfalls in performance. In its fiscal year 2002 performance plan, DOE generally outlined broad, clear strategies for achieving the objectives under the selected outcomes. However, DOE did not consistently provide detailed, specific actions required to achieve some of the outcomes. DOE's fiscal year 2000 performance and accountability report and fiscal year 2002 performance plan present an overall improvement over previous reports and plans. Specifically, the fiscal year 2000 report organizes information by departmental decision unit to better track with the budget, and it better links objectives and funding. Similarly, the fiscal year 2002 plan included general performance goals that were linked to each budgetary decision unit. However, weaknesses persist in both the report and the plan. The report did not always provide a clear picture of how much progress had actually been made, nor did it always outline detailed strategies for making further progress when targets were not met. The report continued to provide minimal information on procedures to validate and verify performance information. Similarly, the plan did not adequately explain changes made to objectives, goals, and measures, and it often contained vague descriptions, such as "promote" and "enhance," for some strategies that make it difficult to get a clear picture of DOE's intended performance. Finally, DOE did not disclose data limitations in either the performance plan or the report for the key outcomes.
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