Chemical and Biological Defense

Program Planning and Evaluation Should Follow Results Act Framework Gao ID: NSIAD-99-159 August 16, 1999

Congress passed the Government Performance and Results Act in 1993 to encourage agencies to measure the performance and outcomes of their programs. Federal managers, traditionally preoccupied with program staffing, activity levels, and tasks completed, would instead focus on the real difference that federal programs make in peoples' lives. This report examines the extent to which the Defense Department (DOD) has applied the principles of the Results Act to the chemical and biological defense program, focusing on research, development, testing, and evaluation efforts that lead to new technologies and defensive capabilities. GAO assesses whether (1) the goals of the chemical and biological defense program are explicit and measurable; (2) the program has performance measures that assess outcomes and impacts rather than outputs and activities; and (3) organizations executing the program's research, development, testing, and evaluation activities have incorporated the principles of the Results Act in their program planning and evaluation.

GAO noted that: (1) DOD's CB Defense Program in general, and its RDT&E activities in particular, have not incorporated key Results Act principles, as evidenced by the fact that the goals of the program are vague and unmeasurable and do not articulate specific desired impacts; (2) in the absence of explicit and measurable goals, it is difficult to assess whether the program has been successful in achieving its goals; (3) the performance measures of CB Defense Program RDT&E emphasize activities rather than impacts; (4) the program is not being evaluated according to its impact on the defensive or operational capabilities of U.S. forces, either individually or collectively; (5) CB Defense Program planners use roadmaps to track program progress toward meeting chemical and biological defense goals; (6) these goals frequently take the form of advanced concept technology demonstrations; (7) however, the demonstration of a new defensive technology or capability is not a measure of the program's impact or contribution to the military's ability to survive, fight, and win in chemical and biological environments; (8) CB Defense Program research and development organizations have incorporated Results Act principles inconsistently; (9) only one organization had adopted the Results Act planning and evaluation tools; and (10) the remaining research and development organizations cited either the utilization of equivalent planning tools or the unique challenges of evaluating research and development activities as reasons why they had not or could not adopt the Results Act processes.


Our recommendations from this work are listed below with a Contact for more information. Status will change from "In process" to "Open," "Closed - implemented," or "Closed - not implemented" based on our follow up work.

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