Performance Measures

We assess our performance using a balanced set of quantitative measures in four key areas: results, client, people, and internal operations. Our priority measures are financial and nonfinancial benefits describing the results of our audit work. Our methodology describes the definition and background, data sources, verification and validation, and data limitations for each of the measures in the four key areas. The methodology, “How We Ensure Data Quality for our Performance Measures,” can be found at pages 124-132 of the 2012 Performance and Accountability Report.

Financial Benefits

Our findings and recommendations produce measurable financial benefits for the federal government after the Congress or agencies take action in response to them. The financial benefit can be the result of: changes in business operations and activities; restructuring federal programs; or modifications to entitlements, taxes, or user fees.

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Source:  GAO.

Fiscal year 2012 financial benefits data: txt

Examples of financial benefits

  • NASA Cancellation of Constellation/Ares I Project. From 2006 to 2009, we issued a number of products on various aspects of NASA’s Constellation program, including the Orion and Ares I projects, the two main development efforts under that program. We questioned the affordability and overall acquisition strategy for each project and stressed that NASA needed to develop a sound business case to support the Constellation program before making long-term commitments. Development and funding issues with the project led to an extended gap in human space flight capability, and as a result, NASA’s fiscal year 2011 budget request canceled the Constellation program, effectively halting the program’s planned entry into the implementation phase of development. The estimated financial benefit of canceling the program is about $8.0 billion. (Related reports: GAO-09-844, GAO-08-51)
  • More examples of financial benefits (see page 26: PDF, 34)

Nonfinancial Benefits

Many of the benefits resulting from our work cannot be measured in financial terms. These benefits can result in better services to the public, changes to statutes or regulations, or improved government operations.

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Source:  GAO.

Fiscal year 2012 nonfinancial benefits data: txt

Examples of nonfinancial benefits

  • Ensuring Effective Use of the Terrorist Watchlist. The December 2009 attempted airline bombing exposed weaknesses in how agencies create and use the terrorist watchlist. In May 2012, we reported that agencies faced challenges in processing increased volumes of watchlist-related information and that changes to screening processes based on the incident had impacted agency resources and the traveling public. We recommended that the Assistant to the President for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism routinely assess the results from using the watchlist to determine if outcomes and impacts are acceptable and manageable. This work has assisted the Congress in overseeing terrorist watchlist processes. (Related reports: GAO-12-144T, GAO-12-476)
  • More examples of nonfinancial benefits (see page 29: PDF, 37)
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Source:  GAO.

Fiscal year 2012 nonfinancial benefits data: txt

Public Insurance and Benefits: Medicare, Medicaid, Veterans’ Affairs and DOD health care, disability programs, national flood insurance, federal deposit insurance, and other insurance programs.

Public Safety and Security: homeland security and justice programs, critical infrastructure, including information security, critical technologies, food safety, transportation safety, international food assistance, public health, consumer protection, environmental issues, national defense, foreign policy, and international trade.

Acquisition and Contract Management: DOD weapon system acquisition, NASA acquisition management, all federal agency and interagency contract management.

Tax Law Administration: IRS business systems modernization, tax policy, enforcement of tax laws.

Program Efficiency and Effectiveness: fraud, waste and abuse; U.S. financial regulatory system, federal oil and gas resources, U.S. postal service, transportation funding, and telecommunications funding.

Business Process and Management: federal agency financial audits, federal information systems, federal real property, human capital management, DOD business transformation, business systems modernization, financial management, support infrastructure management, and supply chain management.