Results Act

Comments on Selected Aspects of the Draft Strategic Plans of the Departments of Energy and the Interior Gao ID: T-RCED-97-213 July 17, 1997

A primary purpose of the Government Performance and Results Act of 1993 is to improve federal program effectiveness and accountability by promoting a new focus on results, service quality, and customer satisfaction. In this testimony, GAO comments on the overall quality of the draft strategic plans of the Energy and Interior Departments. Generally speaking, neither department's draft strategic plan meets the requirements of the act, which calls for virtually every executive agency to develop a strategic plan covering at least five years and containing specific major elements. The final draft strategic plans are not due to Congress and the Office of Management and Budget until September 1997.

GAO noted that: (1) while DOE has made progress in developing its draft strategic plan, the draft plan is still incomplete and does not fully meet the requirements of the Results Act; (2) DOE has developed a draft strategic plan that is appropriately focused on a Department-wide mission that transcends the interests of individual programs; (3) the document barely mentions PMAs specifically; (4) of particular concern to this Subcommittee, it does not identify programs and activities, such as those of PMAs, that are crosscutting or similar to those of other agencies; (5) the function of the PMAs to market electricity relates to the functions of Reclamation and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which produce the electricity that the PMAs market; (6) the draft plan does not recognize that the achievement of DOE's strategic goals will depend, in part, upon its coordination with these agencies; (7) to assure that the PMAs, Reclamation, and the Corps of Engineers are all moving toward mutually reinforcing goals and objectives, GAO believes it is important for DOE to address the coordination issue in its plan; (8) a significant amount of work still needs to be done before Interior's draft strategic plan can fulfill the requirements of the Results Act; (9) since programs within Interior are carried out primarily through eight major autonomous subagencies, the Department chose to implement the Act by developing a draft plan overview for the Department as a whole and requiring each of the subagencies to develop its own plans; (10) GAO focused on three key areas of Interior's draft plan; (11) although Reclamation's mission statement is comprehensive and covers its major responsibilities, this Subcommittee and Reclamation disagree about its basic mission--which is the foundation of the draft plan; (12) the consultation process provides an ideal opportunity to address such issues; (13) as with Energy, Interior's plan generally does not identify programs and activities that are crosscutting or similar to those of other subagencies nor does it indicate that coordination has occurred; (14) both Reclamation and Geological Survey, as well as other agencies such as the Environmental Protection Agency, address environmental water quality issues; (15) however, the indication of any coordination of these plans to address the issues of duplication and overlap; and (16) management of the information needed to track and measure performance against goals is in need of attention.

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