President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief:

Program Planning and Reporting

GAO-11-785: Published: Jul 29, 2011. Publicly Released: Jul 29, 2011.

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U.S. assistance through the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) has helped provide treatment, care, and prevention services overseas to millions affected by HIV/AIDS. In 2008, Congress reauthorized PEPFAR with the Tom Lantos and Henry J. Hyde United States Global Leadership Against HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria Reauthorization Act of 2008 (2008 Leadership Act). The act requires the Department of State's Office of the U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator (OGAC) to report to Congress annually on PEPFAR performance. The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and the Health and Human Services (HHS) Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) also report on PEPFAR program performance. Responding to legislative directives, GAO (1) described key procedures for planning and reporting on PEPFAR performance and (2) examined published PEPFAR performance plans and reports. GAO analyzed performance management documents and interviewed officials at OGAC, USAID, and CDC.

Officials in several offices and divisions in OGAC, USAID, and CDC coordinate and manage PEPFAR program planning and reporting procedures at headquarters and in PEPFAR countries and regions. These procedures, which include PEPFAR-wide annual operational planning and periodic results reporting, support internal agency-specific program management as well as provide information for external reporting on PEPFAR results. OGAC, USAID, and CDC publicly issued plans and reports on PEPFAR performance in recent years consistent with 2008 Leadership Act requirements and GPRA practices; however, two key elements are lacking. First, although OGAC has internally specified annual performance targets, its most recent annual reports to Congress did not identify these targets or compare annual results with them. According to the 2008 Leadership Act, OGAC's annual reports on PEPFAR program results must include an assessment of progress toward annual goals and reasons for any failure to meet these goals. In addition, the Government Performance and Results Act (GPRA) of 1993 calls for federal agency performance reports to compare program results with established targets. Performance documents published by USAID, jointly with State, and by CDC report program targets and results for two and four PEPFAR indicators, respectively. Second, OGAC's most recently published performance plans and reports do not provide information on efforts to validate and verify reported data, while USAID's and CDC's published performance documents cite such efforts by OGAC. In addition, none of the plans or reports refers to noted data reliability weaknesses or efforts to address these weaknesses. GPRA and prior GAO work emphasize the importance of providing information in public performance documents on data verification and other efforts to address identified weaknesses. GAO recommends that OGAC include in its annual report to Congress (1) comparisons of annual PEPFAR results with established targets and (2) information on efforts to verify and validate PEPFAR performance data and address data limitations. OGAC partially agreed with the first recommendation, pending discussions with stakeholders about implementation issues and consequences, and agreed with the second recommendation.

Recommendations for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: The most recent PEPFAR annual report to Congress, published in 2015, has an appendix which contains data tables that include comparisons of FY 2014 results with previously established targets for that period. According to a PEPFAR official, these data are much more detailed than what was in previous annual reports and represent a new standard for PEPFAR data.

    Recommendation: In accordance with requirements and practices set forth in the 2008 Leadership Act and GPRA, and to improve transparency and accountability, the Secretary of State should direct the U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator to modify the annual report to Congress on PEPFAR performance by including comparisons of annual PEPFAR results with previously established annual targets.

    Agency Affected: Department of State

  2. Status: Closed - Not Implemented

    Comments: The most recent PEPFAR annual report, published in 2015, contains very little information on efforts to verify and validate performance data and address data limitations. According to a PEPFAR official, as of September 2015, OGAC is taking actions to address this recommendation, but these actions are not yet completed.

    Recommendation: In accordance with requirements and practices set forth in the 2008 Leadership Act and GPRA, and to improve transparency and accountability, the Secretary of State should direct the U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator to modify the annual report to Congress on PEPFAR performance by including information on efforts to verify and validate PEPFAR performance data and addressing data limitations.

    Agency Affected: Department of State

 

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