United States GAO General Accounting Wasfiington, Office D-C. 20548 - ‘. js9s6”3 Resources, Community, and ‘Economic Development Division B-278504 November 14, 1997 The Honorable Richard K Arrney Majority Leader House of Representatives The Honorable Bud Shuster Chairman, Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure House of Representatives Subject: Results Act: Information on the Missions, Goals. and Measures Developed bv FKWA FTA and NHTSA As you requested, this report provides information on the missions, goals, and performance measures being developed under the Government Performance and Results Act (the Results Act) by the Department of Transportation’s (DOT) Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), Federal Transit Administration (PTA), and National Highway Traffic Safely Administration (NHTSA). Specif%zally, we (1) discuss the relationships of the three agencies’ missions and strategic go& to DOT’s mission and goals, (2) track the agencies’ strategic goals and outcomes to program-level goals and measures, and (3) provide our views on the goals and measures. To address the first two objectives, we reviewed the draft missions, strategic goals and outcomes, and program goals and performance measures for the three agencies as of October 20,1997. The agencies are revising and/or developing this information to support DOT’s September 1997 strategic plan and fiscal year 1999 budget, which will not be final until early 1998. We also interviewed planning and budgeting officials at the three agencies and at the department level and reviewed supporting documents. To address the third objective, we analyzed the three agencies’draft goals and measures on the basis of our knowledge of their programs and operations &om our past reviews. GAO/ECED-98-34E Missions, Goals, and Measares at FKWA, FTA, & NETSA B-278504 . - Our findings reflect a “snapshot” of these agencies’missions, goals, and measures at this time. We recognize that F’HWA, FTA, and NHTSA are continuing to revise this information as they update their strategic plans and complete their fiscal year 1999 budgets. RELATIONSHlpS AMONG THE AGENCIES’ AND DOT’S DEPARTMENT-WIDE MISSIONS AND GOALS The mission statements for FFIWA, ETA, and NHTSA reflect the agencies’ focus on highways, public transportation, and highway safety, respectively, while DOT’s mission statement reflects its broad authority over the nation’s transportation systems. (See enc. I, table 1.1.) F’HWA’s and FTA’s strategic goaIs generally parallel the Department’s goals for safety, mobility, economic growth and trade, human and natural environment, and national security. NHTSA has 11 strategic goals: 4 goals support the Department-wide safety goal and 1 supports DOT’s goal to protect and enhance communities and the natural environment. Table I.2 in enclosure I lists the strategic goaIs for each agency and the Department. Table 1 below tracks DOT’s strategic goals to the agencies’strategic goals and summarizes the areas in which the goals are similar. Table 1: Summarv Comparison of DOT’s Strateaic Goals With FHWA’s. FTA’s. and NHTSA’s Similar DOT goal FHWA goat Similar FTA goal Similar NHTSA goal Safety Yes Yesa Yesb Mobility Yes Yes No comparable goal Economic growth Yes’ Yes No comparable goal and trade Human and Yes Yes Yes natural environment National security Yes No comparable goala No comparable goal Note: In addition to the goals that are similar to DOT’s, FTA has one other goal and NHTSA has six other goals (see table I.2 in enc. I). aFTA has a goal for “safety and security.” According to FTA, its safety and security goal is comparableto DOT’s goal for national security. The DOT goal, however, 2 GAO/ICED-98-34R Missions, Goals, and Measures at FElWA, FIX, % NETSA B-278504 - deals with issues such as national defense, while the FTA goal addresses personal security and property damage. .- . bNHTSA has four goals for safety. ‘FHWA has a similar goal for “productivity.” RELATIONSHIP OF TBE AGENCIES’ STRATEGTGGOALS AND OUTCOMES TO PROGRAM GOALS AND MEASURES \ Each of ~A’s three major programs-federal aid highways, federal lands highways, and motor carriers-has program goals and measures to support various strategic goals, outcomes, and measures (see tables I.3 and L4 in enc. 0 FI’A has agency-level goals, outcomes, and measures that its four major programs-formula programs, major capital investments, Washington Metro, and transit planning and research-are expected to support. According to FTA planning officials, the agency does not have specifk goals for the individual programs. (See table I.5 in enc. L) Information on the relationship of NHTSA’s individual programs to its strategic goals will not be available until the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) completes its review and the fiscal year 1999 budget is completed early in 1998. However, NBTSA has developed goals, outcomes, and measures at both the agency and program levels. At the agency level, NHTSA has identified two primary outcomes-save lives and prevent injuries- and three intermediate outcomes-reduce the occurrence of crashes, reduce the consequences of crashes, and serve the agency’s customers. NBTSA has provided us with information from its draft budget that indicates the relationships of its 31 programs to one or more of the outcomes and shows the performance measures for each program. (See tables L6 and I.7 in enc. JJ OBSERVATIONS ON GOALS AND MEASURES The three agencies’goals and measures vary in speciiicity; FTA’s are the broadest, FBWA’s are somewhat program-specific, and NHTSA’s are the most progmm-specifk FfA’s goak and measures are at a high level of aggregation and reflect broad outcomes. For example, FlYA’s goal to improve mobility and accessibility to transit systems is supported by the outcome to maintain, improve, and expand the nation’s transit infrastructure. This outcome, in 3 GAOfECED-9S-34E Missions, Goails, and Measnres at E’EWA, FM, & ?J’EIQSA B-278504 . - turn, is measured by the average age of bus and rail fleets and the condition of bus and rail facilities. The outcomes and measures-provide little information to indicate how the specific programs support the goals. The agency is developing a strategic plan that may provide this link. Furthermore, it is di.fficult to determine whether ETA will have the information needed to determine whether outcomes have been achieved. Although FTA has developed measures for 8 of its 18 outcomes, some of the measures do not adequately measure the outcome. For example, FfA’s outcome to “reduce the true economic cost of transportation taking into account the quality of the transit service” is measured by the condition of transit bus and rail facilities, the average age of bus and rail fleets, and the cost per passenger mile. These measures do not address important aspects of the quality of service, such as service frequency and reliability. According to FTA officials, the agency has chosen a high level of aggregation for its outcomes and measures because of the nature of its programs. In general, the funds for FI’A’s major programs are used for a similar purpose- to improve transit service-by the same grantees. In their option, it is not possible to distinguish changes in outcomes by the source of funds used. $I addition, FI’A told us it is in the process of developing measures for all of its outcomes. By the time the fiscal year 1999 budget is submitted to the Congress in early 1998, FI’A expects to have developed measures or identified data needed for all of the outcomes. Finally, FTA told us that it is developing additional measures for quality of service, such as the amount of transit service provided at high frequencies, the speed of transit service, and a measure of service reliability. FHWA’s strategic gods and measures are at a similarly high level of aggregation, but the agency has a second level of more specific program goals and measures. Each strategic goal has one or two broad outcome goals and measures associated with it For example, FEWA’s mobility goal has an associated outcome to preserve and enhance highway infrastructure with emphasis on the National Highway System. This outcome will be measured by the percentage of miles of pavement in the National Highway System that have poor ride qualiIy, the percentage of bridges on the National Highway System that are structurally or functionally deficient, and the percentage of 4 GAO/WED-98443 Missions, Goals, and Measnres at FB’WA, FM, & NETSA B-278504 _ all bridges that are structurally or functionally de5zient.l In addition to this broad focus, FHWA has a second tier of program goals and over 50 measures. The program measures include many that are results-oriented and some that are process-oriented. For the most part, the process-oriented measures refer to specific programs. For example, to address FHWA’s goal to protect and enhance the natural environment and the communities affected by highway transportation, the federal-aid program plans to measure progress by issuing new guidance on the National Environmental Policy Act. It is unclear how the guidance will help to measure progress toward achieving the goal. According to F’HWA, issuing the new guidance wiu eventually help the agency to achieve its goal to protect and enhance the natural envknment and the conununities affected by highway transportation. We have several additional observations about FHWA’s goals and measures: - The goals of F’HWAk federal lands program could better support the agency’s strategic goals. The federal-aid program and the federal lands program both fund highway and bridge construction Although both programs undertake similar activities, the goals of the federal-aid program support all five strategic goals, while the goals of the federal lands program support only one strategic goal. - It will be diBicult to determine if some program goals have been met because they are not directly measured. For example, a goal of the federal-aid program is to quickly restore service on damaged highway facilities following an emergency or natural disaster. Measures for this goal are (1) state and local officials’ satisfaction with the FHWA emergency relief program, (2) a reduction in the number of days required to process emergency relief requests, and (3) the number of states using streamlined contracting techniques to advance permanent repair projects. FHWA does not include a more direct measure of the amount of time to restore service. According to F’HWA, it does not use a more direct measure because such a measure would impose additional burdens on state agencies to collect such information. ‘A structurally deficient bridge is one that (1) has been restricted to light vehicles only, (2) is closed, or (3) requires immediate rehabilitation to remain open. A functionally deficient bridge is one on which the deck geometry, load-carrykg capacity, clearance, or approach roadway alignment no longer meets the usual criteria for the highway system of which it is an integral part .5 GAomzED-98-3m Missions, Gods,and Measures ZitETlW&ETB,%NRTSA B-278504 - Among the three agencies, NJJTSA has developed the most program-specik goals and measures. NHT§A also has the most experience in measuring performance. NHTSA was designated a pilot program under the Results .Act in 1994, and its goals and measures predate the Department-wide goals and the more recent goals and measures developed by FBWA and FIX NHTSA has developed goals, outcomes, and measures at several levels. As we mentioned, at the agency level, NHTSA has idenaed two primary outcomes and three intermediate outcomes, each with associated measures. NHTSA’s 31 programs also have measures. We have several additional observations about NHTSA’s goals, outcomes, and measures: - The agency’s goals, outcomes, and measures reflect a combination of results orientation and process orientation. For example, the goal to mitigate the consequences of motor vehicle crashes is results-oriented, while the goal to improve the agency’s internal processes, management, and structure is oriented more toward activities to achieve desired outcomes. NHTSA plans to revise its strategic plan early in 5sca.l year 1998 to make its goals more results-oriented and to more closely reflect the Department’s strategic goals. - Although many of its program measures focus on program activities, NHTSA’s draft budget documents clearly explain the relationships among program measures and the agency’s outcomes. For example, to measure performance in its program of rulemaJ&tg support for safety performance standards, NHTSA uses the average time to complete rulemaking actions and the percentage of petitions for rulemaking answered within 120 days. According to NJJTSA,the activities that are being measured lead to completing rulemaking actions in the minimum period of time, which leads to earlier implementation of safety improvements in production vehicles, which leads to greater cumulative reductions in deaths and injuries. AGENCY COMMENTS We provided copies of a draft of this report to DOT for review and comment. We met with a special assistant to the Deputy Secretasy, the team leader for Strategic Planning, FHWA; the Director, Office of Strategic Planning and Program Review, FI’I1; the Director, Policy Development, IT’.& and the chief for the Strategic Planning Division, NHTSA, who generally agreed with the information presented in the draft. Overall, they agreed that the report showed that F’HWA, FM, and NETSA are aligning their missions, goals, 6 GAOIBCED-98-34R Missions, Goals, and Measures at FERVA, FN, & NiTHA B-278504 - indicators, and measures with DOT’s strategic plan. They emphasized, however, that the performance information presented-in this report indicates the status at one point in time and that the agencies are continuing to’refine and develop the mformation. We clariEed the report to reflect this comment. In addition, we have incorporated other technical comments and clarifications where appropriate. We conducted our work thorn May through November 1997 using generally accepted government auditing standards. We are sending copies of this report to the Minority Leader of the House of Representatives; the Ranking Minority Member of the House Committee on Transportation and In&&ructure; the Secretary of Transportation; and the Director, OMB. We wiu make copies available to others on request. Please call me at (202) 512-2834 if you or your staff have any questions about this report. Major contributors to this report are Janet Barbee, Sharon Dyer, Teresa Spisak, and John Thomson. Phyllis F. Scheinberg Associate Director, Transportation Issues Enclosure 7 GAO&ZED3M4lZ Missions, Goals, and Measures at F’HWA, FL4, % NETSA xQ 6 - 1 .4 3 = E 0 a N a 0 B t” cn t .- . .- Ordering Information The first copy of each GAO report and testimony is free. Additional copies are $2 each. Orders should be sent to the following address, accompanied by a check or money order made out to the Superintendent of Documents, when necessary. VISA and Mastercard credit cards are accepted, also. Orders for 100 or more copies to be mailed to a single address are discounted 25 percent. Orders by maik U.S. General Accounting Office P.O. Box 37050 Washington, DC 20013 or visit: Boom 1100 700 4th St. NW (corner of 4th and G Sts. 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Results Act: Information on the Missions, Goals, and Measures Developed by FHWA, FTA, and NHTSA
Published by the Government Accountability Office on 1997-11-14.
Below is a raw (and likely hideous) rendition of the original report. (PDF)