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

Gao ID: NSIAD-99-183R July 20, 1999

Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed the fiscal year (FY) 2000 performance plan for the Department of State, which was submitted to Congress as required by the Government Performance and Results Act of 1993, focusing on: (1) assessing the usefulness of the agency's plan for decisionmaking; and (2) identifying the degree of improvement the agency's FY 2000 performance plan represents over its FY 1999 plan.

GAO noted that: (1) State's FY 2000 annual performance plan provides a partial picture of: (a) intended performance across the agency; (b) the strategies and resources that will be used to achieve the performance goals; and (c) the methods it will employ to ensure the credibility of the information used to assess agency performance; (2) for example, State's strategic goal of opening foreign markets has two areas of emphasis; (3) however, the plan provides performance information for only one of them; (4) State's FY 2000 performance plan represents a moderate improvement over the FY 1999 plan in that it shows some progress in addressing the weaknesses GAO identified in its assessment of that plan; (5) in reviewing the FY 1999 plan, GAO observed that: (a) many of the goals were not clearly stated or extended beyond State's span of control; (b) the plan did not have baselines and targets for each performance indicator; and (c) crosscutting issues and data limitations were not addressed; and (6) among improvements in the FY 2000 plan are the addition of baselines, targets, and quantifiable measures to gauge performance, and results-oriented goals that better capture what State can accomplish.

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