The Drug Enforcement Administration's Implementation of the Government Performance and Results Act
Report No. 03-35
Office of the Inspector General
The Government Performance and Results Act of 1993 (GPRA) seeks to shift government performance and accountability away from a preoccupation with counting activities to focus instead on the results or outcomes of those activities. GPRA provides a performance-based management framework for agencies to set goals, measure progress towards those goals, deploy strategies and resources to achieve the goals, and use performance data to make decisions to improve performance.
Our audit focused on evaluating the Drug Enforcement Administration's (DEA's) implementation of GPRA. We examined whether the DEA had: 1) developed an adequate strategic goal and objectives that were consistent with the Department's strategic goals and objectives; 2) established performance indicators for all decision units included in the DEA's budget requests;1 and 3) established an effective system of controls to collect, analyze, and report data related to its performance indicators. We performed our audit work at the DEA Headquarters and its field divisions in Atlanta, Chicago, Los Angeles, New Orleans, and New York.
Our audit determined that the DEA had failed to meet key aspects of GPRA as we identified deficiencies in each of the three areas reviewed. We found that the DEA had developed a strategic goal and objectives that were consistent with the Department's strategic goals and objectives, but the DEA's strategic goal and objectives were not definitive enough to allow for an assessment of whether the goal and objectives were being achieved. In addition, even though the DEA had established performance indicators for all of its budget decision units, it had not established:
A brief overview of each of these deficiencies follows.
Adequacy of Strategic Goal and Objectives: The DEA established a strategic goal to "Identify, target, investigate, disrupt, and dismantle the international, national, state, and local drug trafficking organizations that are having the most significant impact on America." The DEA also established 15 strategic objectives for achieving this strategic goal. However, neither the strategic goal nor the 15 strategic objectives were quantitative, directly measurable, or assessment-based as required by Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Circular A-11. As such, it is impossible to assess whether the DEA is achieving its goal and objectives.
After we issued the draft report, the DEA informed us that it has revised its strategic plan since we completed our audit fieldwork. The DEA updates its 6-year strategic plan annually. At the time of our audit fieldwork, the DEA had completed its FY 2001-2006 Strategic Plan. We found that the goal and objectives in the DEA's FY 2001-2006 Strategic Plan were not quantitative, directly measurable, or assessment based. Subsequent to the exit conference for the audit, the DEA informed us that it was then drafting its FY 2003-2008 Strategic Plan to address these shortcomings. In response to a draft of this audit report, the DEA stated that it has drafted its FY 2003-2008 Strategic Plan to include a general long-term goal and four strategic goals with 2-year and 5-year quantitative, time-specific objectives, which it believes will address some of the recommendations in this report. The DEA also stated that these new goals and objectives meet the requirements of GPRA and OMB Circular A-11. The DEA stated that the revised Strategic Plan would be provided to the Office of the Inspector General upon approval of the plan.
We believe the DEA's actions to revise its goal and objectives in the FY 2003-2008 Strategic Plan, partly in response to this audit, are positive steps towards improving the DEA's ability to measure achievement of its goals and objectives. Once we receive the DEA's FY 2003-2008 Strategic Plan, we will evaluate the adequacy of the DEA's revised goals and objectives and provide feedback to the DEA.
Criteria for Designating Priority Target Organizations: The DEA had developed a general definition of a "priority target organization," but it had not established specific criteria for identifying illicit organizations as priority target organizations. As a result, the DEA's field divisions were not consistent in how they determined whether an organization should be reported as a priority target.
Criteria for Reporting Priority Target Organizations as Disrupted or Dismantled: Similarly, the DEA also had developed a general definition for what constitutes a "disrupted or dismantled" priority target organization, but it had not established specific criteria for reporting priority target organizations as disrupted or dismantled. As a result, the DEA's field divisions were not consistent in how they reported priority target organizations as disrupted or dismantled.
System to Collect, Analyze, and Report Performance Data: The DEA had not developed a system to effectively track performance indicators for five of its six performance indicators. As a result, we could not determine whether meaningful performance data would be available to effectively measure performance against these performance indicators.
Procedures to Verify Performance Data: The DEA had developed the Priority Target Resource and Reporting System (PTARRS) for tracking and reporting performance data on priority target organizations. We found that PTARRS generally was adequate to verify the domestic priority target performance data. Specifically, we reviewed the PTARRS system controls and cross-checking methods and determined them to be acceptable to verify the domestic priority target performance. The acceptability of these verification procedures is supported by the minimal reporting errors that we identified as discussed below. However, PTARRS was not used to track performance data for the DEA's five other performance indicators. As a result, the DEA is unable to verify the accuracy and reliability of the information recorded, reported, and used to evaluate its performance for these indicators.
Accuracy of Performance Data Reported: In its FY 2003 budget request, the DEA reported that it had identified 566 priority target organizations during FY 2001.2 Subsequent to submitting the budget request, the DEA revised the number of priority targets for FY 2001 to 726. Two hundred forty-eight of the 726 priority target organizations were for the five DEA field divisions included in our review. Our audit determined that all 248 organizations were being investigated by the DEA as priority target organizations and as such, were properly reported as priority target organizations for FY 2001. In its FY 2003 budget request, the DEA also reported that it had disrupted or dismantled 100 priority target organizations during FY 2001. Forty-one of the 100 priority target organizations reported were for the five DEA field divisions included in our review. Our audit determined that the number of priority target organizations disrupted and dismantled was not correctly reported for one of the five field divisions. Specifically, 2 of the 28 priority target organizations reported as disrupted or dismantled should not have been reported as such by the Los Angeles field division. In addition, another priority target organization was reported with the wrong case number. The DEA subsequently corrected the errors when it entered the data into PTARRS and as noted above, the PTARRS system controls were adequate to verify domestic priority target data. Therefore, no action is required by the DEA on this issue.
Performance Goals: The DEA established goals for the number of priority target organizations that it would identify each fiscal year and for the number of priority target organizations that it would disrupt and dismantle each fiscal year. However, the goals were usually well below what the DEA should expect to achieve based on past performance data.
As a result of these deficiencies, the ability of the DEA, the Department, Congress, and the public to assess the effectiveness of the DEA's performance is diminished.
In our report, we made seven recommendations to assist the DEA in developing and reporting reliable and accurate performance results. We recommended that the DEA establish a strategic goal and objectives that can be effectively measured and develop specific criteria for the field divisions to use for identifying priority target organizations and for reporting whether the organizations have been disrupted or dismantled. We also recommended that the DEA take actions to develop a system to track all of its performance results, fully report its performance results, establish procedures and controls to verify all of its performance data, ensure performance data is correctly reported for all field divisions, and establish better performance goals for its performance indicators.