Coast Guard: Actions Needed to Improve Data Quality and Transparency for Reporting on Mission Performance and Capital Planning–GAO

The GAO has issued a report, “Coast Guard: Actions Needed to Improve Data Quality and Transparency for Reporting on Mission Performance and Capital Planning.” This was Testimony  before the Subcommittee on Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation, Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, House of Representatives. You can find summary versions of the report here.

There are other issues, but what appears most significant to me is that apparently the Department is obstructing publication of information that the Coast Guard could easily provide.

GAO’s prior work also identified areas where the Coast Guard could improve the transparency of the data it uses for reporting on its mission performance as well its capital planning purposes. For example, in an October 2017 report on performance goals, GAO found the Coast Guard’s Annual Performance Report (APR) has not been released publicly since 2011. (emphasis applied–Chuck) Consequently, there has not been full visibility over performance across all of the Coast Guard’s missions. Coast Guard officials stated that a decision by Department of Homeland Security (DHS) leadership to limit the number of performance goals shared publicly had deterred the Coast Guard from public release of its APR (emphasis applied–Chuck). GAO recommended that APRs be available on the Coast Guard’s website; the Coast Guard plans to publicly release future APRs. In addition, previous GAO reports found that the Coast Guard’s annual 5-year capital investment plan, which projects acquisition funding needs for the upcoming 5 years, did not consistently reflect current total cost estimates or the effects of tradeoffs made as part of the annual budget cycle. GAO made recommendations to help the Coast Guard plan for future acquisitions and the difficult trade off decisions it will face given funding constraints. The Coast Guard agreed, but it is unclear when it will complete the 20-year plan.

From what I have heard, it also seems likely that the 20 year plan is also tied up at the Department level.

I did a series on published measures of effectiveness back in 2010 and the discussion it developed is still relevant to future reporting. Unfortunately the report the posts are based on is no longer accessible. You can find the posts here:

It is not as if these reports are optional.

The Government Performance and Results Act of 1993 (GPRA), as updated and expanded by the GPRA Modernization Act of 2010 (GPRAMA), requires agencies to establish annual performance goals with target levels of performance to measure progress towards those goals. See Pub. L. No. 111-352, 124 Stat. 3866 (2011) (amending Pub. L. No. 103-62, 107 Stat. 285 (1993)). Although GPRA and GPRAMA requirements apply to those goals reported by departments (e.g., DHS), they can also serve as performance management leading practices at other organizational levels, such as for component agencies (e.g., Coast Guard). In addition, GPRA requires executive agencies to prepare an annual performance report (APR) on program performance for the previous fiscal year, including a discussion of why any performance goals were not met and plans to meet those goals in the future. (emphasis applied–Chuck)

It sounds like the Coast Guard is doing more than enough performance measuring based on footnote 21 on page 11, to provide a comprehensive report.

To measure mission performance, the Coast Guard uses three types of performance goals and measures established by DHS for performance reporting by the Coast Guard and other DHS components: Strategic goals are used to reflect achievement of missions that are publicly reported in the DHS APR. As part of DHS’s APR, these goals are subject to GPRA and GPRAMA requirements. Management goals are used to gauge program results and tie to resource requests that are reported to Congress and publicly available through the DHS Congressional Budget Justification, along with the strategic goals. Operational measures are additional DHS component measures not reported by DHS, but used internally by components to inform management of operations and activities. The Coast Guard has at least 150 additional internal performance measures used to inform management of operations and activities based on our analysis of the Coast Guard’s Strategic Performance Directive and Operational Performance Assessment Report. (emphasis applied–Chuck)

I can’t help but believe, the Coast Guard, the nation, and even DHS would benefit from more transparency.

One thought on “Coast Guard: Actions Needed to Improve Data Quality and Transparency for Reporting on Mission Performance and Capital Planning–GAO

  1. Pingback: Video: Review of Fiscal Year 2019 Budget Request for the Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation Programs | Chuck Hill's CG Blog

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