DATE: April 26, 1999
To: John C. Truesdale, Chairman
Frederick L. Feinstein, General Counsel
From: Aileen Armstrong,
Subject: NLRB's Performance Plan for Fiscal Year 2000
The Results Act states that the plan shall:
establish performance goals to define the level of performance to be achieved by a program activity;
express such goals in an objective, quantifiable, and measurable form;
briefly describe the operational processes, skills and technology, and the human, capital, information, or other resources required to meet the performance goals;
establish performance indicators to be used in measuring or assessing the relevant outputs, service levels, and outcomes of each program activity;
provide a basis for comparing actual program results with established performance goals; and
describe the means to be used to verify and validate measured values.
The OIG evaluated the Agency's Fiscal Year 2000 Annual Performance Plan against the just stated criteria and we have several comments regarding the plan. The performance plan needs improvement in three areas. First, the Agency should streamline the report by focusing goals on program areas. Second, performance measures that are not objective, measurable, and verifiable should be reconsidered. Third, the Agency should provide additional information on how it intends to verify and validate performance data. Our comments may be useful to Agency officials in formulating future annual performance plans for the NLRB.
The Agency may need to update its strategic plan ahead of schedule if significant changes are made. Currently the Agency is required to update its strategic plan by Fiscal Year 2000. If the Agency decides to update its strategic plan in Fiscal Year 1999 further updating would not be required until Fiscal Year 2002.
Our first comment addresses both the Fiscal Year 2000 Annual Performance Plan and the Strategic Plan for Fiscal Years 1997 - 2002, on which it was based. The NLRB has identified 4 goals which are listed below.
Goal No.1 - Resolve questions concerning representation impartially, promptly, and conclusively.
Goal No. 2 - Investigate, prosecute, and remedy unlawful acts, called unfair labor practices, by either employers or their unions.
Goal No. 3 - Develop and maintain a well trained, highly effective, productive, customer service oriented workforce.
Goal No. 4 - Fully integrate information resource management into the working environment to increase the Agency's ability to provide information to the public and to meet Agency core mission functions and goals.
In the Agency's response to our comments on their Fiscal Year 1999 Annual Performance Plan the Agency said that they may reconsider Goal No. 3. We agree that the Agency should reconsider performance goal number 3, which addresses staff development issues. The Agency should also reconsider performance goal number 4, which deals with information technology initiatives. These changes would streamline Agency reports, conserving staff resources and providing a more focused report for judging the Agency's performance. In our opinion, personnel development and information technology initiatives would be better handled as strategies to achieve goals number 1 and 2.
Our opinion is consistent with the intent of the GPRA and applicable guidance published by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) and the General Accounting Office(GAO).
OMB Circular A-11, page 294 states, " An Agency has discretion to submit strategic plans covering only its major functions or operations; support type activities and operations can be omitted. Strategic plans prepared primarily for agency internal use (such as those prepared at a program or component-unique level) may cover a greater range of functions and operations."
Agencies' Strategic Plans Under GPRA: Key Questions to Facilitate Congressional Review (GAO/GGD-10.1.16), page 12 states, " General goals and objectives - or strategic goals - explain what results are expected from the agency's major functions and when to expect those results. Thus such goals are an outgrowth of the mission and are very often results-oriented."
The NLRB Mission Statement clearly identifies the Agency's statutory responsibilities and identifies its two primary functions:"(1) to prevent and remedy statutorily defined unfair labor practices by employers and unions; and (2) to conduct secret-ballot elections among employees to determine whether the employees wish to be represented by a union." Agency goals should be linked to major functions identified in its Mission Statement.
The annual plan does not identify verification and validation techniques to be used by organizations other than regional offices.
Goals Number 1 and 2 include performance measures that: 1) are not expressed in objective, quantifiable, and measurable form; and 2) do not provide a basis for comparing actual program results with established performance goals.
Goal No. 1 includes the following performance measures which should be reconsidered.
Revise Representation Casehandling Manual and make it accessible to the public.
Evaluate quality of representation casework.
Operations management to visit Regional offices to assess effectiveness of casehandling systems; discuss performance measurement, best practices, and implementation of General Counsel policies.
Operations Management to perform on-site quality review of casehandling files in Regional Offices.
Goal No. 2 includes the following performance measures which should be reconsidered.
Evaluate the quality of Unfair Labor Practice casehandling.
Evaluate Information Officer Program.
Revise hearing Officers' Guide and make it available to the public.
Evaluate Information Officer Program.
Improve quality of Unfair Labor Practice Case processing.
Revise Compliance Manual.
Issue and disseminate further "best practices" for Unfair Labor Practices casehandling.
The annual plan does not identify target levels of performance nor the methodology by which these measures would be verified and validated. The measures identified are strategies that may increase the quality or timeliness of regional casehandling, but are not performance measures which can be used to ascertain the effectiveness of Agency operations. They are input measures which identify resources used, not results obtained.