oversight

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

Published by the Government Accountability Office on 1999-07-20.

Below is a raw (and likely hideous) rendition of the original report. (PDF)

United States General Accounting Office                                                           Resources, Community, and
Washington, D.C. 20548                                                                        Economic Development Division




                 B-282415

                 July 20, 1999

                 The Honorable Dick Armey
                 Majority Leader
                 House of Representatives

                 The Honorable Dan Burton
                 Chairman, Committee on Government Reform
                 House of Representatives

                 The Honorable Fred Thompson
                 Chairman, Committee on Governmental Affairs
                 United States Senate

                 Subject: Observations on the Department of the Interior’s Fiscal Year 2000 Performance Plan

                 As you requested, we have reviewed and evaluated the fiscal year 2000 performance plans for
                 the 24 Chief Financial Officers (CFO) Act agencies that were submitted to Congress as
                 required by the Government Performance and Results Act of 1993 (Results Act). Enclosure I
                 to this letter provides our observations on the fiscal year 2000 performance plan for the
                 Department of the Interior (DOI). Enclosure II lists management challenges we and DOI’s
                 Inspector General identified that the agency faces and the applicable goals and measures in
                 the fiscal year 2000 annual performance plan.

                 Our objectives were to (1) assess the usefulness of the agency’s plan for decisionmaking and
                 (2) identify the degree of improvement the agency’s fiscal year 2000 performance plan
                 represents over the fiscal year 1999 plan. Our observations were generally based on the
                 requirements of the Results Act, guidance to agencies from the Office of Management and
                 Budget (OMB) for developing the plan (OMB Circular A-11, Part 2), our previous reports and
                 knowledge of DOI’s operations and programs, and our observations on DOI’s fiscal year 1999
                 performance plan. Our summary report on the CFO Act agencies’ fiscal year 2000 plans
                                                                                             1
                 contains a complete discussion of our objectives, scope, and methodology.



                 1
                  Managing for Results: Opportunities for Continued Improvements in Agencies’ Performance Plans (GAO/GGD/AIMD-99-215,
                 July 20, 1999).




                 Page 1                                             GAO/RCED-99-207R Interior’s Fiscal Year 2000 Performance Plan
B-282415


As agreed, unless you announce the contents of this letter earlier, we plan no further
distribution until 30 days from the date of the letter. The major contributors to this report are
listed in enclosure III. Please call me on (202) 512-3841 if you or your staff have any
questions.




Victor S. Rezendes
Director, Energy, Resources,
  and Science Issues

Enclosures - 3




Page 2                                    GAO/RCED-99-207R Interior’s Fiscal Year 2000 Performance Plan
Enclosure I

Observations on the Department of
the Interior's Performance Plan for
Fiscal Year 2000
Interior’s fiscal year 2000 annual performance plan consists of 10 components—a
                                                     1
departmental overview and nine component plans. Most of the plans provide a general
picture of intended performance across the agency and a general discussion of the strategies
and resources that the agencies will use to achieve their performance goals. However,
additional work is needed to provide confidence that the performance information will be
credible. For example, most of the component plans have performance measures that
represent progress towards the performance goals. To illustrate, NPS’ plan has an annual goal
to reduce by 7 percent the rates of safety-related incidents in which visitors are involved. To
measure accomplishments, NPS will use statistics that depict law enforcement incidents,
natural resource violations, search-and-rescue missions, and traffic accidents. However, most
of the component plans do not discuss the actions needed to compensate for unavailable or
low-quality data or the implications of data limitations for assessing performance. Figure 1
highlights the plan’s major strengths and key weaknesses that need to be addressed in future
plans.


Figure 1: Major Strengths and Key Weaknesses of Interior’s Fiscal Year 2000 Annual
Performance Plan


    Major Strengths
    • Contains results-oriented goals and quantifiable measures
    • Discusses strategies for achieving intended performance
    • Plans follow a consistent format making them more user friendly than those from fiscal
    year 1999


    Key Weaknesses
    • Most of the plans do not provide specific procedures to credibly validate and verify
    performance information
    • Most of the plans do not identify or recognize issues that would significantly affect data
    limitations and their implication for assessing whether goals are being achieved




1
 The nine subagencies are the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA), Bureau of Land Management (BLM), Bureau of Reclamation
(BOR), U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS), Minerals Management Service (MMS), National Park Service (NPS), Office of the
Special Trustee For American Indians (OST), Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement (OSM), and U. S.
Geological Survey (USGS). We did not review the plans for the Office of Insular Affairs, Inspector General, or Office of the
Solicitor.




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Enclosure I
Observations on the Department of the Interior's Performance Plan for Fiscal Year 2000




The Department of the Interior’s fiscal year 2000 performance plans show moderate
improvement in addressing weaknesses that we identified in our assessment of the fiscal year
1999 plans. In reviewing the fiscal year 1999 plans, we observed overall that the plan was not
user-friendly. The component plans had to be reviewed in conjunction with the budget
justifications. Therefore, understanding the totality was an overwhelming and time-
consuming task involving a review of about 3,500 pages of material. More specifically, we said
that the plans were limited in describing the strategies to accomplish performance goals;
discussing the actions to address external factors that were likely to affect performance;
describing the capital, human, and other resources to be used to achieve performance goals;
describing credible procedures to verify and validate performance information, and
recognizing known significant limitations to data from agency sources. For example, BIA’s
fiscal year 1999 performance plan contained strategies for achieving its strategic goals that in
some cases were very different from those identified in its strategic plan.

While Interior’s fiscal year 2000 total plan is still quite lengthy, it is significantly more
informative. Specifically the overall plan (1) follows a consistent format among all of the
component plans making it easier to locate material, (2) shows improved linkages between
the component plans and among the goals and strategies within each individual plan, and (3)
has fewer and, as a result, more focused, goals and measures. In addition, the departmental
overview plan identifies department wide goals that are more clearly presented. Furthermore,
the fiscal year 2000 plans are becoming more stand-alone documents in that they do not have
to be read in conjunction with the budget justifications in order to provide a reasonable
understanding of each plan. Also, the plans do a better job of developing goals that are
measurable, describing the strategies that the agencies will use to measure the
accomplishment of goals, and discussing the external factors that have an effect on
accomplishing the stated goals.

Despite the overall improvements, the component plans need to continue to be strengthened
to ensure that their performance information is sufficiently complete, accurate, and
consistent. For example, six of the component plans still need to better identify significant
data limitations and their implications for assessing the achievement of performance goals.
Another area in which additional improvements are needed is in linking performance goals to
program activities in the President’s budget request. Five of the plans need to provide better
linkages. For example, FWS’ plan identifies funding levels for “GPRA program activities” but
does not explain how these GPRA program activities were derived from the program
activities in the agency’s budget justification.




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Enclosure I
Observations on the Department of the Interior's Performance Plan for Fiscal Year 2000




The Agency’s Performance Plan Provides a General Picture of
Intended Performance Across the Agency
Interior’s performance plans provide a general picture of intended performance across the
agency. For example, seven of the component plans have performance measures that
represent progress towards the performance goals. To illustrate, NPS’ plan has an annual goal
to reduce by 7 percent the rate of safety-related incidents in which visitors are involved by
September 30, 2000. To measure accomplishments, NPS will use statistics that depict law
enforcement incidents, natural resource violations, search-and-rescue missions, and traffic
accidents. Similarly, one of OSM’s mission goals is to repair, reclaim, and restore land and
water that were degraded by past mining. One of OSM’s performance goals related to this
mission goal is for the Surface Mining Program to reclaim about 9,000 acres during fiscal year
2000. OSM will measure progress using the number of acres reclaimed by the Abandoned
Mine Land Program.

Last year, when we reviewed the fiscal year 1999 plans, we observed that most of the
component performance plans did not provide a succinct and concrete statement of expected
performance for subsequent comparison with actual performance. Furthermore, most of the
component plans did not have goals that were clearly linked to the subagencies’ missions,
strategic goals, and program activities in the budget and did not recognize crosscutting
efforts. The fiscal year 2000 performance plan indicates moderate improvement in addressing
the weaknesses of the fiscal year 1999 performance plan as it relates to providing a clear
picture of intended performance across the agency.

Among improvements in the fiscal year 2000 plan are that most of the component plans have
performance goals and measures that address the important dimensions of program
performance. For example, there are a greater number of goals that are linked to outcomes,
which show progress toward achieving program results. To illustrate, nearly 40 percent of
BOR’s goals in its fiscal year 1999 plan were not outcome-oriented but instead addressed
internal issues concerning how it does its work. The Bureau’s fiscal year 2000 plan is moving
toward developing more outcome-oriented goals. Currently only about 25 percent of its goals
address internal issues. Another area in which the component plans generally have improved
is in their discussion of coordination efforts with other agencies having related strategic or
performance goals. The fiscal year 2000 plans show that, six of the seven component plans
that were weak in discussing coordination issues have made modest progress. For example,
the FWS’ plan for fiscal year 1999 had a very brief and vague discussion of crosscutting
efforts. Its fiscal year 2000 plan discusses several crosscutting issues and recognizes the need
to involve other parties in and outside the agency. To illustrate, FWS’ plan has identified the
Mississippi River Basin Partnership as a cooperative effort to support a number of habitat
and species assessments, restoration, and improvement projects in the Mississippi River
Basin area. FWS requested funds for this effort and will work with groups such as the
Mississippi River Interstate Cooperative Resource Association, The Missouri River Natural




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Enclosure I
Observations on the Department of the Interior's Performance Plan for Fiscal Year 2000




Resources Committee, and the Lower Mississippi River Conservation Committee to
accomplish these projects. Conversely, BOR’s plan has a discussion of crosscutting issues but
does not go into any detail about issues that cross agency boundaries and is confined mostly
to discussions of intra-Interior issues.

The Agency’s Performance Plan Provides a General Discussion
of the Strategies and Resources the Agency Will Use to Achieve
Its Goals
The fiscal year 2000 plan provides a general discussion of strategies and resources the agency
will use to achieve performance goals. For example, most of the component plans that had
weaknesses in fiscal year 1999 now discuss strategies that are linked to performance goals,
contain changes to existing strategies and identify new initiatives to achieve performance
goals, and describe the financial resources that are needed to achieve goals. To illustrate,
MMS’ plan has identified funding and full-time-equivalent staffing needs for each performance
goal and provides some narrative identifying how the resources are to be used. Many of the
other component plans also identify the funding resources attributable to the goals, which is
a key element in assessing program performance.

The component plans, however, did not always clearly relate the program activities in the
President’s budget to performance goals. Many of the component plans identify “GPRA
program activities,” which result from aggregating, consolidating, or disaggregating the
program activities in the budget. The plans then related the funding for the GPRA program
activity to the performance goals. However, it is not always clear how the GPRA program
activities and the funding levels were derived from the program activities in the budget. For
example, it was not always clear how the funding for budget program activities would be
allocated to performance goals in the plans of BIA, BLM, and FWS. In addition, NPS’ plan
does not link its organizational effectiveness goals to program activities in its budget.
Conversely, USGS’s plan provides crosswalks showing (1) the relationship between funding
for its budget program activities and funding for its GPRA program activities and (2) how
GPRA program activity funding would be allocated to performance goals. Interior officials
told us that they are continuing to explore ways to more clearly portray the relationship
between performance plans and budgets.

Last year, when we reviewed the fiscal year 1999 plans, the majority of Interior’s component
plans did not (1) adequately describe the strategies to accomplish performance, (2)
sufficiently address how any external factors could affect the achievement of goals, and (3)
always discuss or adequately identify the capital, human, financial, or other resources that
will be used to achieve the performance goals. The fiscal year 2000 performance plan
indicates moderate improvement in addressing the weaknesses that we identified in our




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Enclosure I
Observations on the Department of the Interior's Performance Plan for Fiscal Year 2000




assessment of the fiscal year 1999 plans as it relates to providing a specific discussion of
strategies and resources the agency will use to achieve performance goals.

Among improvements in the fiscal year 2000 performance plan are that many of the
component plans that had prior weaknesses now provide a better description of the
strategies that will be used to achieve the goals and the external factors that could affect
achievement of desired performance. For example, BLM’s plan has a number of goals in the
“Restore and Maintain the Health of the Land” program area that is supported by strategies
for achieving the goals. To illustrate, BLM has the goal to assess 400 miles of flowing riparian
areas and 200,000 acres of key watersheds and standing wetlands that may be at risk of
degradation. One of the strategies BLM will use to address this goal is to provide training on
condition assessments and have interdisciplinary teams assess the riparian areas,
watersheds, and wetlands using an established checklist protocol. The assessment results
will be reported to BLM for the purpose of tracking and managing success in goal
achievement. Its plan also provides information on how limited financial and staff resources
could prevent the goals from being met. Also, BIA’s plan has shown much improvement in
describing the strategies for achieving goals and in linking the strategies to the performance
goals. Its fiscal year 1999 plan generally did not discuss the strategies for achieving goals.

Interior’s only strategic information technology goal is ensuring that the department’s critical
information systems have been remediated and are operating correctly for the year 2000 date
change—a serious global issue and one that we identified as a government-wide high-risk
issue. The department’s performance goal is to ensure its critical information systems and
processes are year 2000 compliant by March 31, 1999. According to department officials, all
90 of its critical systems have been repaired and in operation and 97 percent of the systems
have been validated and verified by an independent source. The remaining 3 percent are to be
completed by May 30, 1999. This information provides users of the plan with more assurance
that the department’s critical business processes and computer systems will function
properly in the new millennium.

The Agency’s Performance Plan Provides Limited Confidence
That Performance Information Will Be Credible
While Interior’s component performance plans have improved over the fiscal year 1999 plans,
they still need to be strengthened in order to provide confidence that performance
information will be credible. Most of the component plans do not discuss the specific actions
they need to take to compensate for unavailable or low-quality data or the implications of
data limitations for assessing performance. For example, most of the plans identify the
validation and verification procedures for ensuring data reliability but do not discuss the
specific methodologies that will be used. To illustrate, most of the component plans—the
departmental overview, NPS, OSM, FWS, MMS, and BIA—still do not discuss the procedures




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Enclosure I
Observations on the Department of the Interior's Performance Plan for Fiscal Year 2000




to control data quality, such as those for automated information systems. Also, only one
plan—FWS—improved its discussion on weaknesses that are inherent in the form of data
collection and that could result in significant error in the data used for measuring
performance. For example, FWS recognized in its plan that to achieve its annual goal to
improve the condition of water management and public use facilities that it would need to
have, among other things, better baseline data in its Maintenance Management System by
December 1999.

Last year, when we reviewed the fiscal year 1999 plan, we observed that the component plans
did not provide specific information on the data verification and validation processes and
management controls over data that would be used. In addition, most of Interior’s component
plans did not sufficiently identify significant data limitations or adequately discuss or make
reference to any significant new or modified information systems to make more credible data
available for performance measures. The fiscal year 2000 performance plan shows some
improvements in addressing the weaknesses that we identified in our assessment of the fiscal
year 1999 performance plan as it relates to providing full confidence that the agency’s
performance information will be credible. However, improvements are still needed.

For the fiscal year 2000 performance plan, the data sources and strategy and validation
procedures for the goals are presented in tables. The information in the tables often identify
some of the major information systems that are used to store, process, and generate data and
reports that will be used to assess performance. However, these tables do not provide enough
of the verification and validation information needed for ensuring data reliability and
credibility. Also, most of the component plans do not recognize several known issues that
would significantly limit the quality of data from agency sources. For example, the
component plans do not address information or computer security. We have identified
information security as a government wide high-risk issue. Users of the plan could benefit
from assurance that the agency’s systems are secure from risks, such as tampering, that could
affect the reliability and availability of critical performance data. Interior officials told us that
they take data security seriously and are looking at computer security for all systems,
including performance management systems. They said that data systems support
performance measurement and they believe the department is already meeting the Results
Act requirements in this area, but will continue to scrutinize and improve security. In this
regard, they said that the department’s information resources management council is
examining the data/computer security issue and agreed the department can discuss the work
of the council as part of the data validation and verification discussion in future plans. We
agree that the department may be meeting the Results Act requirements and are encouraged
that it will discuss information security in future performance plans because information
security is a high risk issue government wide.

In addition, the departmental overview plan has the goal of achieving unqualified financial
opinions for all of its component entities as well as for the Department’s consolidated




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Enclosure I
Observations on the Department of the Interior's Performance Plan for Fiscal Year 2000




financial reports. While this goal is laudable, Interior’s core focus needs to be directed toward
gaining the ability to produce accurate financial information in a timely manner. At a
minimum, the Department needs to produce its audited financial statements in time to meet
the statutory deadline of March 1 of each year. Additionally, the Department has indicated
that it began modifying its financial statement system to allow for collection and reporting of
financial information on a quarterly basis. We believe this is a worthy goal and as such should
be added as a goal in the departmental overview plan.

Although the component plans generally still need improvement, the departmental overview
plan made some progress in determining the credibility of performance data in the
accounting and financial management area. For example, the departmental overview plan
recognized the need to define and collect data on deferred and routine maintenance and
capital improvements. Also, Interior has established a management team composed of its
chief information officer and other senior managers to address the issue of year 2000
compliance for computer systems.

Other Observations on the Department of the Interior’s
Implementation of Performance-Based Management
The Secretary of the Interior is responsible for administering the government’s trust
responsibilities to tribes and Indians. This includes managing about $3 billion in Indian trust
funds, and about 54 million acres of Indian lands. Management of Indian trust funds and
assets has long been characterized by, for example, inadequate accounting and information
systems, untrained and inexperienced staff, backlogs in appraisals, inadequate written
policies and procedures, and poor internal controls. To address Interior’s long-standing
problems with accounting and asset management for the Indian trust funds, the Office of
Special Trustee for American Indians (OST), which reports directly to the Secretary of the
Interior, was established in 1996. The Office of Special Trustee developed an annual
performance plan for fiscal year 2000 that covers the management of Indian trust funds. The
OST did not have a performance plan for fiscal year 1999. Thus, we could not assess how
much improvement has occurred. Instead, we evaluated OST’s fiscal year 2000 plan to
determine whether the plan meets, partially meets, or fails to meet the criteria established for
evaluating agency performance plans. We determined that OST’s performance plan meets the
evaluation criteria in the areas of establishing performance goals that reflect the agency’s
primary functions, strategic goals, and mission. OST’s plan also meets the criteria for
establishing performance measures that link to the goals. Overall, however, OST’s plan
provides only (1) a general picture of intended performance across the agency, (2) a limited
discussion of how the agency’s strategies and resources will help achievement of its
performance goals, and (3) limited confidence that performance information will be credible.




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Enclosure I
Observations on the Department of the Interior's Performance Plan for Fiscal Year 2000




For example, OST’s performance plan does not clearly define some criteria needed for
applying performance measures. To illustrate, the OST has as one of its measures the
percentage of subproject milestones contained in its High Level Implementation Plan—a plan
which contains information on and describes each of 13 subprojects to address trust
management reform—completed by September 30, 2000. However, the milestones themselves
are not in OST’s performance plan, but in a separate 90-page document that must be
consulted to determine intended performance. Furthermore, because there are no objective
criteria to determine levels of completion for some of the milestones, the application of the
measure would lend itself to subjective judgment. As a result, inconsistent measurement
could occur from year to year because of changes in the criteria. Also, there is no clear
explanation of how the agency’s strategies will affect the achievement of its performance
goals or how the resources will or should be allocated or applied to the goals. Finally, the
plan does not describe the significance of the limitations to trust management data systems
for concluding on the extent to which goals will have been achieved.

It should also be noted that the National Indian Gaming Commission is not covered in
Interior’s strategic or performance plans. The Commission was established as an independent
agency within the Department of the Interior with the primary purpose of regulating and
monitoring gaming conducted on Indian lands. The Commission has authority to spend about
$7 million in fiscal year 2000. While this may not be a major activity within Interior, the
sensitivities of Indian gaming issues and the potential for criminal activities related to
gaming, would seem to indicate that Indian gaming is an important area in which to develop
performance goals and measures to explain what it plans to accomplish with these funds.

Agency Comments
On April 7, 1999, we met with Interior officials, including the Deputy Assistant Secretary for
Budget and Finance, the Director, Office of Planning and Performance Management, and the
Director of the Office of Financial Management to obtain the agency’s comments on our
observations about its fiscal year 2000 performance plan. Interior officials believe that its
fiscal year 2000 performance plan meets the requirements of the Results Act and the guidance
provided by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) in Circular A-11. However, the
Department acknowledges that improvements can be made to its plan. Interior also noted
that the development of its performance plan is an iterative process and that progress will
continue as the agency gains additional knowledge and experience with performance-based,
results-oriented management.

The Department did not agree with our observation that it had not made significant progress
in the area of validating and verifying performance information. While Interior officials
believe that some improvements can be made, they said that the fiscal year 2000 plan
includes better-defined measures, baselines, collection systems, and validation processes for
each measure. They were particularly concerned that we did not give them enough credit for




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Enclosure I
Observations on the Department of the Interior's Performance Plan for Fiscal Year 2000




the progress they made in describing the information on the validation and verification
measures in their plans. In this regard, they told us that they worked closely with OMB on this
aspect of their plans and that, according to OMB officials, the plans adequately address the
requirements set forth in Circular A-11. We agree that the department improved its discussion
of validation and verification measures over its fiscal year 1999 plans and have added
language to the report to reflect the progress made. We also agree that additional
improvements are needed. Improvements could be made in (1) ensuring that performance
information is sufficiently complete, accurate, and consistent; (2) linking performance goals
to program activities in the budget request, and (3) discussing the specific actions needed to
compensate for unavailable or low-quality data or the implications of data limitations for
assessing performance.

The department also made specific comments regarding its efforts to integrate performance
planning and budgets and address information and computer security. We have also included
language in the report to reflect the department’s views on these issues. Specifically, we
discuss the department’s intent to more clearly portray the relationship between performance
planning and budgets and how it plans to discuss information and computer security in future
performance plans. We also revised the text to discuss the department’s efforts to more
frequently report financial statement information.




Page 11                                          GAO/RCED-99-207R Interior’s Fiscal Year 2000 Performance Plan
Enclosure II

Management Challenges


This table compares the Department of Interior’s management challenges to its performance
plans for FY 2000. The management challenges included in the table are those identified by
GAO and Interior’s OIG.

Table II.1: Management Problems in Interior’s Fiscal Year 2000 Performance Plan
Management challenge                                          Applicable goals and measures in the fiscal year
                                                              2000 performance plan
Steamlining agencies—The organization and functions           None. The Departmental Overview portion of the
of federal land management agencies—particularly              performance plan addresses a number of crosscutting
BLM and the Forest Service—need to be reexamined              initiatives. However, they are aimed more at improved
and streamlined. Similar responsibilities, tighter            coordination among agencies than at the kind of
budgets, and an increased understanding that the              fundamental reexamination of agency organizations
boundaries of natural systems are not consistent with         and functions as suggested by our analysis.
agency boundaries demand that this kind of
reexamination be done.

Resource management—As caretaker of much of the               The Departmental Overview as well as some bureau
nation’s natural and cultural resources, Interior needs       plans have set up goals and measures to address
to know the condition of these resources so that they         various aspects of this issue. For example:
can be properly preserved, protected, and maintained.         —The Departmental Overview plan has established a
However, the agency frequently does not have this             goal and measures for determining the condition of
kind of basic information. As a result, Interior frequently   assets to get better information on maintenance
does not know the status of key issues like the               problems (04.05.01.00);
condition and extent of resources problems, the               —NPS has a number of goals and measures dealing
effectiveness of measures taken to deal with them, or,        with identifying and improving the condition of its
where limited dollars should be allocated to do the           resources ( Ia & Ib goals, esp. Ib1 and Ib2; also IVa9
most good.                                                    & page 11)
                                                              —BLM has a number of goals and measures dealing
(The IG also identified this area as a management             with getting better information to preserve resources
challenge.)                                                   and maintain health of the land (II.3, II.5, & II.7)

Better guidance and oversight Decentralization of             None. The most significant contribution in helping to
responsibility, coupled with inadequate guidance and          address this issue is the implementation of GPRA per
oversight, has resulted in significant differences in how     se. The development of strategic and performance
Interior’s field offices have implemented both legislative    plans, performance measurement and eventually the
mandates and the administration’s goals and                   performance reports will, if implemented properly, go
objectives.                                                   a long way toward resolving this challenge.
                                                              —BLM was one of the bureaus we and the IG were
(The IG also has identified this area as a management         most critical of in this area. However, it is making
challenge.)                                                   good progress (see pp 8 & 9 of plan).
Management of tribal and Indian Programs                      Trust Fund Management—The performance plan
Management problems continue to plague Interior’s             contains goals and measures for each of the major
tribal and Indian programs. The $3B Indian trust fund         management problem areas (06.01.01, 06.01.02, &
has long been characterized by inadequate accounting          06.01.03). If all of the performance goals were met,
and information systems, untrained and inexperienced          many, though not all, of the identified problems would
staff, and a host of other problems. In addition, the         be resolved.
distribution of about $800 million annually to tribes for
basic services like law enforcement, child welfare and        Annual fund distribution to tribes—None.
other social services and for contract support costs, is      According to BIA officials, making the necessary
not in sync with the changing needs of tribes or              changes would require legislation.
changes in tribal revenues from activities such as
gaming.                                                       Funding for contract support costs—The plan has a




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Enclosure II
Management Challenges




Management challenge                                       Applicable goals and measures in the fiscal year
                                                           2000 performance plan
                                                           goal and performance measure addressing the need
(The IG also identified this area as a management          to more fully fund contract support costs
challenge.)                                                (01.01.01.02). If met, the goal will provide increased,
                                                           but not full, funding for contract support costs.
BLM/ALMRS project—BLM is not effectively managing          None. The management problems that BLM has had
its ½ billion dollar Automated Land and Minerals           with ALMRS will no longer be a problem because,
Records System (ALMRS) project. Problems such as           according to agency officials, the ALMRS systems
the lack of a project schedule and other necessary         development project has been cancelled as of March
system development plans increased the risk of             1999. In the meantime, BLM will continue to face the
degraded performance and capability, and resulted in       same record management problems ALMRS was
higher costs—about 33 percent higher than BLM’s            intended to address.
original estimate of about $400 million. BLM also found
continuing problems with computer hardware and
software during recent testing and found a number of
concerns that had not been adequately addressed.




Other areas identified by the IG-Department of the
Interior:

Financial management—The Bureau of Indian Affairs          The Departmental Overview plan identifies a number
and insular area governments have been unable to           of Department-wide management issues that need to
adequately account for revenues and expenditures           be addressed. One of these issues is the need to
associated with their operations. The latest financial     develop reliable and accurate financial information.
statements (fiscal year 1997) for the Bureau of Indian     The performance goal and measure for addressing
Affairs received a qualified opinion due to the agency’s   this issue includes getting unqualified opinions for the
inability to provide adequate documentation or reliable    financial statement of BIA. (04.03.01.00)
accounting information in a number of areas. Similarly,
audits of the insular governments have shown that          In addition, the plan for the Office on Insular Affairs
long-standing financial management deficiencies, like      has included goals and measures for improving the
the inability to account for financial resources and       financial management practices of insular area
ensuring that procurement transactions conform to          governments. (05.02.01.00, 05.02.02.00.)
requirements, continue to exist.

Land clean-up—Interior’s land management agencies          The Departmental Overview plan acknowledges this
face a major challenge in cleaning up sites                as a major issue for the Department and includes a
contaminated by hazardous materials, abandoned             performance goal for and measure for dealing with it.
mines sites, oil and gas wells, leaking underground        (04.06.01.00)
storage tanks and pipelines, and illegal dumping sites.
The cleanup costs to Interior have not been determined     In addition, NPS (Ia1), BLM (01.02.04.00), BIA
because of the unknown nature and extent of possible       (03.08.02.01), and FWS (2.1.2) also had goals and
contamination and because the liability for cleanup in     measures for addressing this issue.
relation to other parties has not been established.
However, the potential liability could be significant—
perhaps hundreds of millions of dollars.

Revenue collections—Interior’s bureaus are involved in     BLM—Plan identifies revenue collections as a key
numerous activities that generate revenue for the          management issue that needs to be addressed and
federal government. These include mineral lease            includes performance goals and measures
collections, water use repayments, reclamation fees,       addressing this issue (01.01.04, 01.02.01, 03.05.01).




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Enclosure II
Management Challenges




Other areas identified by the IG-Department of the
Interior:

resource and material sales, and user fees just to          The goals and measures are broader than the
name a few. However, despite collecting over $9 billion     specific points made in the OIG reports.
in fiscal year 1997, more can be done to improve
Interior’s collection activities. For example, BLM could    BOR—Plan identifies revenue collections as a key
recover more costs related to reimbursements for its        management issue and discusses actions taken to
fire fighting activities and BOR could have substantially   address concerns raised by the IG. No specific goals
increased revenues by perhaps as much as $1.2               or measures.
billion, by revising its irrigation assistance repayment
policy.                                                     MMS—Plan identifies revenue collections as a key
                                                            management issue. No goals or measures specific to
                                                            IG findings.
Land exchanges—Congress has emphasized the use              None. The issue raised by the IG is based on work at
of land exchanges to acquire lands containing resource      BLM. While there are no specific goals or measures
values of public significance and to improve the            addressing this issue, the BLM plan acknowledges
manageability of federal land by consolidating its land     this as a management issue and discusses actions
ownership. However, BLM has historically experienced        taken by the agency to address IG concerns.
problems in administering land exchanges in
accordance with established standards and procedural
controls. As a result, money is lost. (IG reports have
identified $4.4 million lost on 3 exchanges.)

Y2K—Interior has determined that the Year 2000 (Y2K)        The Departmental Overview plan has a performance
problem is critical to meeting the Department’s mission     goal and associated measure addressing this issue
and that resolution of the problem is one of Interior’s     (04.02.01.00). Essentially, they call for all critical
highest priorities. IG evaluations of Y2K readiness at 3    systems to be Y2K compliant by March 31, 1999.
bureaus (BIA, NPS, and FWS) have shown that 2 of            Agency officials told us that all 90 of its critical
the bureaus—BIA and NPS—have yet to complete a              systems have been repaired and in operation and 97
number of key steps needed to resolve the problem.          percent of the systems have been validated and
Both BIA and NPS are in the process of addressing the       verified by an independent source. The remaining 3
problems related to this issue. (The IG is now looking      percent are to be completed by May 30, 1999.
at Y2K implementation at other Interior bureaus—BLM,
USGS, and BOR.)




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Enclosure III

GAO Contacts and Staff
Acknowledgments

GAO Contacts
Victor S. Rezendez,   (202) 512-3841

Acknowledgments
In addition to the contact named above, Arleen Alleman, Robert Cronin, Alan Dominicci
Leonard Ellis, Cliff Fowler, Brad Hathaway, Roy Judy, Jeff Malcolm, and Ned Smith made key
contributions to this product.




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