Skip to page content
Secretary of Labor Thomas E. Perez
Bookmark and Share

FY 2003 Annual Performance Plan - Maintaining a Departmental Strategic Management Focus

6.      Maintaining a Departmental Strategic Management Focus

The Department has adopted the results-oriented focus of the Government Performance and Results Act not only for the management of its programs, but also for the management of the Department as a whole.  This strategic management focus is at the core of our implementation of GPRA, supporting our achievement of the outcomes associated with our three strategic goals and ensuring that we are delivering high-quality services in a cost-effective manner.  Full implementation of GPRA continues to present challenges to the Department with its diverse missions, agencies, partners and constituents.  The formulation of the Department’s three strategic goals—a prepared workforce, a secure workforce, and quality workplaces—has provided a focal point for our strategic, results-oriented management efforts.  Current Departmental priorities to strengthen our strategic management approach include enhancing the quality of data used to measure performance (described in Chapter 5), improving the outcome focus of our performance measuresto ensure program accomplishments will achieve the intended outcomes, improving the relationship between the performance goals and their strategies, assessing the quality and sustainability of our results through program evaluation, and expanding coordination with our Federal partners on cross-cutting programs.  As the Department gains proficiency in our current performance-based management priorities, increased attention will be devoted to linking costs and performance, with the objective to develop an increased number of goals to improve the cost-effectiveness of DOL programs, where appropriate.

To meet the additional challenges to full GPRA implementation, the Department continues to use several management processes to foster inter-agency coordination, ongoing monitoring of progress, and active executive oversight.  The newly established Management Review Board (MRB), comprised of the Chief of Staff, the Deputy Secretary, and the heads of the major DOL agencies, oversees the management of DOL programs through regular meetings.  Conferences between the Deputy Secretary and each agency head are also held on a semiannual basis to review progress toward achieving the agency’s performance goals.  In addition, the MRB has directed DOL executives and managers to revise their performance agreements and standards to include the achievement of performance goals in the individual evaluation process.  The MRB is supported by a dedicated GPRA staff and an inter-agency working group that collaborate to implement the performance planning, monitoring, and reporting activities associated with GPRA. 

The Department also works with organizations outside of its program agencies to improve performance goals and strategies.  During FY 2001, for example, the Departments of Education, Health and Human Services, Veterans Affairs, and Labor established an inter-agency workgroup to facilitate the planning and enhance the results of our cross-cutting programs, with a special emphasis on job training programs and related services.  The Department’s OIG also works closely with the Department to provide the Secretary with information and advice on how to attain the highest possible program accomplishments and accountability.

6.1       Government-wide Management Reforms

The President’s Management Plan includes a comprehensive agenda of management reforms to achieve a Government that is citizen-centered, results-oriented, and market-based.   The Department is committed to ensuring the full implementation of these initiatives to improve the effectiveness and efficiency of DOL’s programs through the performance planning process.  Five Government-wide reforms were identified in the President’s Management Plan, and the Department’s performance goals, plans, and progress, to date, are described in this section.

  • Budget and Performance Integration.  The Department will develop and test approaches for testing the linkage between resources and performance results in the Unemployment Insurance program.  In addition, the Department will be an active participant in an interagency workgroup sponsored by OMB to develop common performance outcome measures for employment, educational and skill attainment and the development of a pilot cross-cutting performance measure for identified Federally funded programs.
  • Strategic Management of Human Capital.  The Department has undertaken a major Workforce Planning initiative, leading to a new, overarching human resources management goal (HR-1) which provides that DOL will have the right people in the right place at the right time to carry out its mission.  This goal and its accompanying indicators are presented in section 6.2 and Appendix A of this plan.
  • Competitive Sourcing.  A goal implementing OMB’s guidance to complete public-private or direct conversion competitions on not less than ten percent of the positions listed on the Department’s Federal Activities Inventory Reform Act inventory in FY 2003 has been established and included in section 6.2 and Appendix A of this plan.  The strategies outlined in section 6.2 present the Department’s implementation plan for accomplishing the FY 2003 goal. 
  • Improving Financial Performance.   The first phase of the President’s financial management initiative emphasizes reducing erroneous payments, and the Department’s two largest benefit programs, the Unemployment Insurance (UI) program and the Federal Employees’ Compensation Act (FECA) program are the focus for this initiative in DOL.  In the UI program, the Department’s State partners have the responsibility for issuing payments directly to eligible claimants.  An indicator to improve payment accuracy has been added to the existing UI goal which measures timeliness and quality; a target for the extent of improved accuracy will be included following the establishment of the baseline during FY 2002.  After consulting with the program’s State partners and stakeholders, the Department will add appropriate performance target and baseline measures.  With respect to the FECA program, an indicator to improve fiscal integrity has been added to the new, comprehensive workers’ compensation programs’ goal, with measures for continuing the FECA initiatives to reduce both compensation and medical costs.  (See section 4.2 and Appendix A of this plan for the FECA and UI program goals.)
  • Expanding Electronic Government (E-government).  The Department provides a number of services and extensive information on-line, and routinely seeks opportunities to streamline communications and business transactions for DOL’s constituents.  For example, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA) strategies in section 4.3 of this plan include enhancing information technology initiatives that provide technical assistance to employers.  These OSHA initiatives include Expert Advisors—interactive, decision-logic products that help users determine what requirements apply to them or what actions they need to take to address hazardous conditions in their workplaces—and e-CATS (electronic Compliance Assistance Tools), which are graphic programs that provide extensive information on a variety of safety and health issues.  Another example of initiatives to facilitate customers’ transactions with the Department is the Pension and Welfare Benefits Administration’s strategy to enable pension plan administrators to electronically file required plan documents with DOL.

In addition to E-government initiatives addressed in section 4.3 as strategies for enhancing the results of individual DOL programs, the Department’s information technology goal in section 6.2 and Appendix A presents the outcomes and measures applicable to all DOL agencies.  This goal sets the Department’s standards for improving information technology capital planning, implementing e-procurement and e-grants systems, and ensuring a secure environment for DOL’s web-based transactions with citizens, businesses and other Government agencies. 

6.2       Management Goals in the FY 2003 Annual Performance Plan

To achieve the President’s Management Plan and to address additional long-term management initiatives, the Department has established cross-cutting performance goals in the areas of financial, information technology, and human resources management.  The agencies with the leadership responsibility for accomplishing these goals are the Office of the Chief Financial Officer and the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Administration and Management.  In addition, all agencies of the Department must play active contributing roles to ensure the success of the President’s Management Plan and the Department’s management initiatives.  These management goals, the strategies to achieve them, and the external factors that may affect accomplishment of the goals are detailed in the sections that follow.

6.2.1    Financial Management

Maintaining the integrity and stewardship of the Department’s financial resources is the principal strategic goal for the Department’s financial management program.  In obtaining an unqualified audit opinion on the Department’s financial statements, DOL can measure its overall effectiveness.  The Department has obtained an unqualified opinion on its Consolidated Financial Statements for the past five years; however, recently enacted legislation and new accounting standards have placed significant new responsibilities on the Department’s financial management community.  The FY 2003 financial management performance goals for the Department address the efforts needed to meet new financial systems and accounting standards.


Outcome Goal Financial Management – Maintain the Integrity and Stewardship of the Department’s Financial Resources

FY 2003 Performance Goals

FM1.

All DOL financial systems meet the standards set in the Federal Financial Management Improvement Act (FFMIA) and the Government Management Reform Act (GMRA).

FM2.

DOL financial management conforms to all Federal accounting standards, laws, and regulations.

Means and Strategies

Sustained Efforts in FY 2003:

  • The Department will maintain compliance with the Federal Financial Management Improvement Act (FFMIA) by closely monitoring the acquisition and implementation of new systems and all modifications to existing systems.  (FM1)
  • The Department will meet OMB requirements to prepare semi-annual consolidated financial statements for FY 2002 and for quarterly statements effective in FY 2003.  (FM2)
  • The OCFO is shifting its managerial cost accounting efforts from agency-specific pilots to a department-wide approach.  Initially these efforts will focus on the development of a high-level departmental cost accounting model.  Subsequent efforts will target providing more detailed cost information and enhanced reporting capabilities in support of performance budgeting.  (FM2)
  • The Department is considering the need to replace its core accounting system.  In the interim, DOL’s current system, DOLAR$, must be improved to comply with mandated development modifications to conform with all Federal accounting standards, laws, and regulations.  (FM1–2)
  • The Department implemented a financial data store in FY 2002.  This tool provides a relational database platform and reporting capability for DOL financial management staff to perform their own ad hoc queries and create their own reports.  In FY 2003, efforts will include enhancing the data store to improve the functionality of the system and make the system available to more Departmental managers.  (FM-2)
  • The Department’s new Payroll System, which will integrate with the Human Resources System, is scheduled to be implemented in FY 2002.  In FY 2003, the need to keep the system current with legislative and regulatory mandates will remain a priority.  Efforts to take full advantage of technological improvements and additional functionality provided by the integrated system will continue.  (FM-1) 
  • OCFO will continue a DOL-wide program to target financial management training in critical skill areas through the development of web-based courses that provide in depth, timely, and self-paced training regardless of the employee’s location.  (FM-2)
  • The Department will continue to improve security for its financial management systems.  (FM–1)

6.2.2    Information Technology Management

The Department of Labor will improve mission performance, productivity, and administrative processes through better utilization of Information Technology (IT).  The focus of this endeavor is to improve customer access to automated solutions, strengthen IT investment planning, and protect DOL information through enhanced computer security policies and practices.  The IT performance goal and measures are designed to support quality administrative and management services that further the mission of the Department by leveraging technology to provide better service to citizens, businesses, other governments and DOL employees.

In addition to the program-specific automated system initiatives of individual DOL agencies, DOL will expand the capability for information delivery to the public via its Internet World Wide Web sites.  Public access will become both easier and more beneficial as DOL carries out plans to expand information sources available, provide expert systems, and add search capabilities.  The Department anticipates nearing the full completion of its transformation from paper-based business practices to electronic transactions, as envisioned by the Government Paperwork Elimination Act, by the end of FY 2003.

To further enhance service to businesses and grantee organizations and to improve internal efficiencies, DOL plans to complete the acquisition and implementation of an Enterprise-wide e-Procurement and e-Grants solution.  These IT solutions will enable major improvements to the way DOL manages some $1.3 billion of procurements annually, as well as more than $10 billion in grants.

In line with the Information Technology Management Reform Act, the Department implemented an IT Capital Investment Management process for selecting, controlling, and evaluating IT investments.  This process includes an automated IT portfolio evaluation and tracking system, with review and decision making through a Technical Review Board composed of DOL agencies’ IT professionals.  Performance indicators have been developed for FY 2003 to set standards for the effective management of the Department’s IT investments. 

As the Department facilitates communications with our customers, DOL is committed to improving the security of our systems and data and protecting the privacy of those we serve.  Priorities for the Department include strengthening DOL’s Information System Security Program, as required to conform to the 2001 Government Information Systems Security Reform Act reporting requirements, and complying with the Chief Information Officer (CIO) Council’s Federal Information Technology Security Assessment Framework.  The Department has established aggressive FY 2003 performance measures to improve the security of our automated systems and information. 

The Department’s key performance goal for information technology management in FY 2003 is detailed below.


Outcome Goal IT –  Provide Better and More Secure Service to Citizens, Businesses, Government, and DOL Employees to Improve Mission Performance

FY 2003 Performance Goal

IT

Improve organizational performance and communication through effective information management and deployment of IT resources.

Means and Strategies

Sustained Efforts in FY 2003:

  • Continue to provide IT governance and oversight of the implementation of the Department’s E-Government plans.
    • Continue to provide planning, budgeting, and technical support for automating paper-based business practices as required by the Government Paperwork Elimination Act.
    • Continue support and assistance to agencies in the development of a  Department-wide information technology architecture.
  • Continue supporting DOL-wide information security responsibilities, as required by DOL policy, laws, and Federal guidance, to include:
    • Completion of major milestones in agency security risk mitigation and computer program plans.
    • Support to DOL agencies regarding privacy impact assessments.
    • Broader and enhanced computer security training.
    • Support of the ongoing DOL-wide Security Incident Response and Reporting Program.
  • Continue to assist agency managers and analysts in implementing the DOL-wide IT capital investment management process through guidance, training, and oversight.
  • Continue to plan, acquire, and implement new information technology, business solutions, systems, services, and capabilities, including:
    • The Employee Computer Network (ECN), its applications, and end users.
    • Department-wide internetworking, including maintenance of DOL-wide Internet Protocol addresses and name directories.
    • Completing implementation of the DOL-wide common office automation suite.
    • Enterprise-wide electronic information management and procurement systems.
  • Continue to maintain the integrity of IT hardware, software, and operations through configuration management, network monitoring, and application of security measures.

Significant New or Enhanced Efforts in FY 2003:

  • Demonstrate the benefits of E-Government efforts through expanded use of post-implementation reviews to ensure that IT investments achieve their intended results.
  • Expand the DOL-wide Certification and Accreditation policy requiring agencies to certify that their systems have adequate security safeguards.
  • Perform additional Security Testing and Evaluation (ST&E) and additional penetration testing.
  • Implement Phase IV of the DOL IT Architecture, including the development of a detailed target migration plan, which will support implementation of DOL’s improved business processes and delivery of information to citizens, businesses, government, and DOL employees.
  • Move all DOL agencies to a single e-mail software package that provides a common management system for communication.

6.2.3    Information Security Program

Building on the progress of previous years, the Department is continuing to enhance its information security program.  Importantly, a large part of these ongoing efforts centers around an integrated approach to securing information assets throughout the IT Investment Management lifecycle.  DOL's emphasis in this area is positioning it to meet the challenges of the new information age.  In FY 2003, DOL will perform a number of activities to strengthen its security program and move to higher levels of the CIO Council's Federal Information Technology Assessment Framework.  These include expanded security awareness training programs, and continued efforts in incident response, security plans and other critical security activities, and further integration of security and privacy considerations into existing IT processes.

6.2.4    Human Resources Management

The Department is committed to recruiting, developing, and retaining a high-quality, diverse workforce that effectively meets changing mission requirements and program priorities.  Through workforce analysis and planning, the Department will identify the human capital requirements to meet our organizational goals and needs, so that DOL will ensure that the right people are in the right place at the right time.  Workforce planning will be directed towards reducing the distance between the Department’s decision-makers and our customers, enhancing front-line service delivery, addressing current and projected staff shortages, assuring that employees have the skills critical to their current positions and are prepared to progress to higher levels of responsibility, and anticipating changes to staff and competency requirements.  Employees in occupations that are no longer necessary as a result of technology or changing business practices will be afforded the opportunity to be retrained, and succession planning and other planned management approaches to an aging workforce will be pursued.

An initial workforce analysis was completed during May through July 2001, in accordance with OMB Bulletin 01-07.  Assessments were conducted of a broad range of occupations fundamental to the Department and clustered into the areas of: (1) data collection, analysis, and policy; (2) worker protection; (3) benefits payment; (4) workforce investment; (5) administrative management; and (6) legal support.  These assessments identified opportunities for improvement in DOL’s human capital management strategy, programs, and processes.  Reviews of restructuring plans prepared by DOL agencies to address the results of the workforce analysis were conducted and identified specific improvement efforts that apply to a cross-section of DOL agencies.  The Department added performance indicators to measure the success of these improvement efforts toward assuring that the right people are in the right place at the right time to carry out the mission of the Department. 

The Department also remains committed to assuring safe and healthful workplaces for our employees, including Job Corps students, and to reducing the human costs associated with workplace injuries and illnesses.  The Department will expand the use of technology to provide and deliver web-based, interactive occupational safety and health training targeted to the hazards and conditions contributing to injuries and illnesses.  Practices at work sites with lower than average injury rates will be evaluated to determine whether these practices can be used effectively elsewhere.


Outcome Goal HR – Establish DOL as a Model Workplace

FY 2003 Performance Goals

HR1.

The right people are in the right place at the right time to carry out the mission of the Department.

HR2.

Reduce the rate of lost production days by two percent (i.e., number of days employees spend away from work due to injuries and illnesses).

HR3.

Reduce the overall occurrence of injuries and illnesses for DOL employees by three percent, and improve the timeliness of filing injury/illness claims by five percent.

Means and Strategies

Sustained Efforts in FY 2003:

  • Provide technical assistance to DOL agencies in managing workers’ compensation programs, including helping agencies in their efforts to identify candidates eligible to return to duty through workplace accommodation, flexiplace, or assistive technologies. (HR2)
  • Review internal practices and procedures to increase worker accommodations. (HR2)
  • Identify and implement best practices used to reduce the incidence of accidents and manage lost-time injury cases. (HR2-3)
  •   Reduce workers’ compensation payments through increased monitoring of workers’ compensation cases and aggressive implementation of early nurse intervention and return-to-work strategies. (HR2)
  • Monitor on-the-job accidents, injuries, illnesses and provide accident and injury statistics to assist in identifying problems, corrective actions, and best practices necessary to reduce accident and injury rates. (HR3)
  • Utilize the Department Safety and Health Information Management System (SHIMS) to identify injury trends and elevated injury rates and to target resources toward addressing injuries in the identified agencies and work sites.  (HR3)
  • Review internal practices and procedures to identify and address hindrances to claims processing and to further improve timeliness of filing injury and illness claims.  (HR3)

Significant, New or Enhanced Efforts in FY 2003:

  • DOL will pursue process enhancements and technological innovations in areas such as recruitment, employee self service, strategic planning information linkages, and use of job competencies in order to provide better service to customers:

    • Workforce projection tools will be utilized to further refine the Department’s 5-year workforce planning and restructuring efforts, especially those affecting workforce trends and competency requirements.  As part of that effort, an assessment of current employee competencies and retraining/retooling strategies to address identified skill gaps in key occupations will be conducted.  Specifically, in 2002 we are identifying core competencies for mission critical occupations and in 2003 we will be analyzing the workforce to identify gaps based on those competencies. (HR1)

    • In support of the workforce planning effort, DOL will conduct an aggressive outreach and recruitment effort to attract a highly skilled and diverse workforce including persons with disabilities.  To address the growing challenge of attracting and retaining employees, DOL will pursue the use of various Departmental/OPM hiring authorities, lifelong learning opportunities, and workplace flexibilities.  (HR1)

      For example, in the areas of –
      Recruitment and retention:   DOL will continue to focus recruitment efforts at targeted colleges and universities in FY 2003 as well as national level job fairs and conferences which have high representation of targeted groups, students with the skills we need, and schools where the Department has had success in the past.  We will redouble our staffing efforts with special emphasis representation groups such as the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), the Federal Asian Pacific American Council (FAPAC), National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE), the National Association of Hispanic Federal Executives (NAHFE) and others.

      Hiring authorities/flexibilities: DOL will increase the promotion and utilization of special hiring authorities and programs including veterans preference, schedule A, bi-lingual, and various student authorities designed to efficiently bring new people into government service.  Use of these authorities will be tracked though administrative systems and will be promoted at various special events honoring specific ethnic groups and highlighted throughout the year.  In addition, to address the growing challenge of attracting and retaining employees, a DOL management crosscut will fund recruitment and retention bonus payments for key occupations that further accomplishment of the Department’s workforce planning and restructuring efforts.  This effort will focus on those mission critical occupations identified in the DOL workforce planning report which have an identified need for the utilization of such flexibilities.

  • Evaluate and begin implementation of recommendations from inter-agency work group for developing financial incentives for agencies to return injured employees to the workplace.  (HR2)
  • Refine and expand utilization of web-based training for new employee orientation and refresher training for existing employees.  The training will also include modules focused upon hazards contributing to a significant percentage of employee injuries, e.g., back strain, repetitive stress, slip trips, and falls.  (HR3)
  • Injury data reveals that 35 percent of Job Corps’ student injuries occur in recreation.  Identify best practices for minimizing recreational injuries from Job Corps Centers with low recreational injuries and develop a strategy for implementing best practices in centers with high recreational injury rates. (HR3)

6.2.5    Procurement  Management

In line with Government-wide reforms in the area of procurement, the Department will improve procurement management to achieve a results-oriented, and, where practicable, market-driven organization.  For FY 2002, immediate improvements will include expanding A-76 competitions and improving the accuracy of DOL’s Federal Activities Inventory Reform (FAIR) Act inventory.

The Department’s performance goals for procurement management in FY 2003 are detailed below.


Outcome Goal PR – Improve Procurement Management

FY 2003 Performance Goals

PR1.

Complete public-private or direct conversion competitions on not less than ten percent of the FTE listed on DOL’s Federal Activities Inventory Reform (FAIR) Act inventory.

PR2.

Award contracts for over $25,000 using Performance-Based Service Contracting (PBSC) techniques for not less than 30 percent of total eligible service contracting dollars.

Means and Strategies

Sustained Efforts in FY 2003:

  • The Department has established a DOL-wide A-76/FAIR Act Work Group tasked with coordinating the achievement of DOL’s outsourcing goals.  The Work Group is responsible for:
    • Identification of FTE at DOL to be directly converted or subject to public/private competition.
    • Identification of appropriate training on both the direct conversion process and A-76 public/private competitions for DOL personnel, including Work Group members, DOL management, contracting specialists, and human resources staff.
    • Ensuring that direct conversions and public/private competitions are conducted in accordance with labor management relations obligations and applicable personnel regulations.  Human Resources specialists have been assigned to assist the Work Group in this effort.
    • Identification and implementation of best practices for direct conversions and public/private competitions.
    • Review of the methodology used to develop DOL’s FAIR Act Inventory, to ensure that it accurately reflects the distribution of inherently governmental- and commercial activity- FTE across the Department and implementation of any corrections needed.
    • Participation in the Procurement Executives Council Civilian A-76 Interagency Work Group.
    • Coordination with the Department’s Workforce Planning and Restructuring activities, to ensure consistency with A-76 outsourcing activities.  (PR1)
  • DOL has developed a timeline for achievement of specific milestones in its competitive sourcing plan.  This plan sets out policy decisions and major tasks needed to launch a program that will meet the Secretary’s and the Administration’s goals.  (PR-1)

Milestones

Date


Monitor tracking and reporting database

Ongoing

Update DOL competitive sourcing policy/guidance (as needed)

Ongoing

Complete FY 2002 FAIR Act Inventory

December 2002

Publish 2002 inventory

December 2002

Review DOL Competitive Sourcing Plan

Ongoing

Respond to challenges/appeals of FY 2001 inventory

Within FAIR Act time frames

Issue Guidance to DOL Agencies on FY 2003 inventory

March/April 2003

Develop plan and schedule for FY 2004 studies

Obtain contractor support for larger studies
Begin first reviews of larger functions
Identify functions subject to more formal competitions
Determine schedule for competitions

May 2003

Submit FY 2003 FAIR Act inventory to OMB

June 2003

Conduct competitive sourcing studies

 

  • A Department-wide Performance-Based Service Contracts Work Group continues:
    • Defining the Department’s contract base in terms of FY 2003 contract funding eligible for performance-based contracting and ensuring the accuracy of Federal Procurement Data System (FPDS) data to determine the applicable baseline.
    • Determining the Department’s current level of performance-based service contracts, including the number of contracts and the funding levels for FY 2003.
    • Identifying the actions necessary to achieve the performance goals and developing appropriate strategies, such as adjustments to existing contracts.  (PR2)
  • On an ongoing basis, the training needs on performance-based contracting techniques will be assessed and appropriate training will be provided for Contracting Officer Technical Representatives and contracting staff. (PR2)
  • On an ongoing basis, technical support requirements will be assessed and supported appropriately.  (PR2)
  • Progress toward converting contracts to performance-based service contracts will be monitored on a quarterly basis, through the FPDS, to ensure attainment of the goal.  (PR2)

Significant New or Enhanced Efforts in FY 2003:

  • In FY 2003, DOL anticipates using A-76 public/private competitions to meet at least a part of its outsourcing goal.  For that reason, DOL’s A-76 FAIR Act Work Group will reorient its activities in FY 2003 toward coordination and oversight of public/private competitions within DOL, including assessing resources that are available in-house for completing the required cost analyses, and identifying appropriate contract providers where additional technical expertise will be needed.  (PR1)

6.3       Program Improvement Opportunities and Management Reforms

The Department of Labor is committed to working with the Office of Inspector General (OIG), the General Accounting Office (GAO) and the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) to improve its management systems and procedures.  DOL reviews of the status of corrective actions taken in response to audit recommendations periodically.  The budget process will consider the resources needed in each year to address audit recommendations and to institute other critical management reforms.  OIG and GAO have identified several management improvement opportunities, and DOL’s plans to address these issues during the remainder of FY 2002 and in FY 2003 are highlighted below. 

6.3.1    GAO High Risk and Other Audits

None of the Department’s programs are the subject of management weaknesses reported in the most recent GAO high risk audit series.

GAO published Major Management Challenges and Program Risks, Department of Labor, in January 2001 as part of their Program and Accountability Series.  The report covered three general areas: retraining workers to better meet rapidly changing workplace needs; protection of workers’ benefits; and ensuring safe and healthful working conditions.  GAO’s challenges in all three areas focused on the need to improve performance measurement and, in particular, the availability and quality of data relative to some of the specific program issues reviewed by GAO.  As described in detail in Chapter 5, improving performance data is a priority of the Department.  For example, the Employment and Training Administration and the Veterans’ Employment and Training Service are developing a new data collection and reporting system, in cooperation with their program partners, to provide accurate and complete information on assisting clients to secure long-term employment with opportunities for advancement. 

GAO also issued a report in June 2001 on the Department’s Status of Achieving Key Outcomes and Addressing Major Management Challenges as part of a series of reports on Government-wide implementation of the Government Performance and Results Act.  The report concluded that the Department appears to be making progress in achieving its key outcomes, has increased its target levels for some goals for fiscal year 2002, and generally provided sound strategies for achieving these new targets.  To ensure that progress toward performance goals can be accurately and fully assessed, and that performance indicators effectively measure the goal, GAO recommended that the Department revise its performance goals regarding strategic human capital management and information technology.  The Department agrees with GAO, and has revised the performance indicators for both the human capital management and the information technology goals to more effectively measure the outcomes of the Department’s efforts in these critical areas and to ensure that the President’s Management Agenda will be achieved by DOL.  Indicators have been added to the information technology goal to measure progress in improving security over the Department’s systems and data, expanding Electronic Government initiatives to facilitate stakeholder communications, and improving the cost-effectiveness of DOL’s information technology investments.  With respect to the human capital management goal, the Department has developed indicators to measure progress in areas identified for improvement in the DOL workforce analysis and restructuring plan.

6.3.2    Program Improvement Opportunities Identified by the OIG and DOL Management

Improving program performance is a priority of the Department, and the Inspector General’s Statement on the Most Serious Management and Performance Challenges Facing the Department (December 2001) presents issues of major potential impact on the effectiveness and efficiency of DOL’s programs and operations.  Several of the Statement’s challenges reference specific concerns reported in detail in recent OIG audits.  The majority of these findings, if not already resolved, should be corrected before the end of FY 2002 and are not, therefore, included among the Department’s goals for FY 2003.  Other challenges require legislative action at the Federal or State level, as explained in Management’s Response to the Challenges, which is included in the Department’s FY 2001 Annual Report.   

The FY 2001 Annual Report provides detailed information about the actions taken over a number of years to effectively manage these challenges.  The Department will work with the Inspector General to develop an approach for reaching agreement that the Department’s actions sufficiently meet each of the challenges, or what specific actions the Inspector General considers essential to resolving the challenges in future years.  

Some of the management challenges raised by OIG relate to a core program or management priority and require a sustained effort over several years to be addressed completely.  The Department responds to such challenges by including goals and strategies in the Departmental or agency-level annual performance plans.  Below are a few examples of OIG management challenges that are addressed in goals and strategies in this FY 2003 Annual Performance Plan.  

  • Protection of Worker Benefit Funds – Program Integrity.  OIG’s management challenges included concerns about vulnerability to fraud in the Employment and Training Administration’s Unemployment Insurance (UI) and the Employment Standards Administration’s Federal Employees’ Compensation Act (FECA) programs.  Recognizing that all major benefit programs are vulnerable to some degree of fraud, the Department has initiated a number of actions to protect both programs and has included indicators or strategies in the DOL Annual Performance Plan to address fiscal integrity in these programs.  In the UI program, for example, the Department has conducted training for the States to highlight UI fraud detection techniques and encourage the sharing of enforcement approaches.  In FY 2003, the UI program is adding an indicator to measure payment accuracy, with the goal of reducing erroneous benefits payments.  To minimize the occurrence of erroneous FECA payments, the Department has instituted several types of management control systems and practices, which are described in detail in the Department’s FY 2001 Annual Report.  The success of some of these practices is measured through indicators in the DOL Annual Performance Plan.  The relevant indicators for both of these programs are included in Chapter 4 and Appendix A, under outcome goal 2.2. 
  • Information Technology and Electronic Government Challenges – Security of IT Assets.  OIG raised concerns about the vulnerability of the Department’s information technology (IT) assets and the effectiveness of the organizational structure through which these assets are managed.  Under the leadership of the Department’s Assistant Secretary for Administration and Management (ASAM), the Department has established a comprehensive Cyber Security Program that is being implemented in a phased approach.  The Department’s FY 2001 Annual Report lists the notable accomplishments of Phase I, along with a discussion of the advantages of the current organizational structure, in which  the Chief Information Officer (CIO) responsibilities are integrated with the ASAM position.  Chapter 6 of the DOL Annual Performance Plan presents the priorities and strategies that the Department will pursue in its management of its IT resources.  The performance goal presented in detail in Appendix A includes for the first time in FY 2003 indicators to measure the Department’s progress in improving security and achieving the intended benefits of information technology projects on schedule and within project budgets.
  • Effectiveness of Mine Safety and Health Programs.  OIG highlights some concerns related to the efficiency of the mine safety programs and the allocation of resources among enforcement and compliance assistance activities.  In FY 2001, the Department’s Mine Safety and Health Administration recorded the lowest number of mine fatalities in the history of the industry, in part because of compliance assistance initiatives in the metal and nonmetal mining sectors.  The Department is undertaking several initiatives to improve management of its mine safety programs, as described in the FY 2001 Annual Report.  In addition, the Department has revised its performance goals in this area to include more meaningful outcomes regarding prevention of fatalities, injuries and illnesses, as shown in Chapter 4 and Appendix A (outcome goal 3.1) in the Department’s FY 2003 Annual Performance Plan.       

6.4       Enhancing DOL’s Customer Focus

Many of DOL’s component agencies’ strategic plans include the integration of customer service concerns into their day-to-day operations.  DOL customers’ feedback is instructive in measuring how well services are provided, identifying how services might be better delivered, and determining whether DOL’s program goals effectively address customers’ needs.  DOL component agencies, as part of their service delivery initiatives, will conduct customer surveys, using appropriate sampling techniques, to obtain this feedback at a reasonable cost.

DOL will not only improve processes for “listening” to its customers but also will work towards improving the communication process with its customers, focusing efforts on improving the understandability of workplace standards by developing “plain language” regulations.  Technology will be applied across the Department to improve the dissemination of these regulations, issue technical assistance material, respond to individual customers’ problems, and collect public comments.  DOL agencies will work collaboratively to share these and other techniques that provide the feedback needed to fully measure program results.

Previous Section Next Section