Results Act

Observations on the Department of Energy's Draft Strategic Plan Gao ID: RCED-97-199R July 11, 1997

Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed the Department of Energy's (DOE) draft strategic plan, focusing on: (1) whether it fulfills the requirements of the Government Performance and Results Act; (2) whether DOE's key statutory authorities are reflected in the draft plan and, if so, how they relate to the missions and goals in the draft plan; (3) whether it reflects interagency coordination for crosscutting programs, activities, or functions that are similar or complementary to those of other federal agencies; (4) whether it addresses major management challenges that GAO had previously identified; and (5) the adequacy of DOE's data and information systems for providing reliable information for measuring results.

GAO noted that: (1) DOE has been actively pursuing the objectives of the Results Act since 1993; (2) its draft plan provides a mission statement that is generally complete, results-oriented, and fulfills public needs; (3) however, the draft plan does not meet all the requirements of the Results Act; (4) the draft plan fully addresses two of the six required elements of the Results Act-the mission statement and goals and objectives-partially addresses a third, and acknowledges that three others need to be completed for the final plan; (5) because the draft plan does not contain all six elements, the Congress is missing critical pieces of information for its consultation with DOE; (6) the draft plan does not expressly link its mission, goals and objectives, and strategies with DOE's relevant major statutory responsibilities; (7) the Results Act does not require agencies' strategic plans to contain a statement of statutory authorities; (8) however, GAO believes that including such linkages may permit a better understanding of the diversity and complexity of DOE's overall mission and goals and objectives; (9) on the basis of GAO's review of relevant legislation, GAO believes that: (a) the missions and activities defined in DOE's draft plan are generally supported by broad legislation; and (b) the draft plan accurately reflects all of DOE's major legislative requirements; (10) DOE is sharing its draft plan with other federal agencies for coordination but believes its functions are unique; (11) its draft plan therefore does not identify programs and activities that are crosscutting or similar to those of other federal agencies; (12) however, DOE's mission does involve or overlap those of other agencies; (13) GAO's previous work has highlighted serious problems with DOE's management of contracts and major projects; (14) DOE's plan, under a section called corporate management, includes objectives and strategies that focus on these management challenges; (15) however, the specific measures in the draft plan to address these challenges appear limited in scope or are unclear; (16) the information system DOE uses to track performance measures and to identify management problems noted several weaknesses; (17) the system will require modification to track performance measures evolving from the draft plan; and (18) in addition, the system depends on information from other systems, some of which have had problems with data accuracy and completeness.

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