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November 6, 2008    DOL Home > No Crumb Trail

6. Maintaining a Departmental Strategic Management Focus

The Department has adopted the strategic management and results oriented focus of the Government Performance and Results Act as a dynamic, core approach to ensuring that our constituents will receive program services of the highest quality at the most efficient cost. 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 – which cut across traditional program lines has provided a focal point for our strategic, results oriented management efforts. Current Departmental priorities to strengthen our strategic management approach include improving the outcome focus of our performance goals to ensure program accomplishments will achieve our strategic goals, enhancing the quality of data used to measure performance, and routinely evaluating our results.

To meet the additional challenges to full GPRA implementation, management processes have been put into place to foster inter-agency coordination, on-going monitoring of progress and active executive oversight. Coordination of the Department's strategic management efforts has been strengthened by the establishment of a dedicated GPRA staff and an inter-agency working group which meet together throughout the year to facilitate GPRA implementation. The Department has initiated systems to ensure routine assessment of progress against our performance goals, and the Deputy Secretary and agency executives meet several times each year to review performance results. The 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 Management Initiatives in the FY 2001 Annual Performance Plan

As part of its overarching management focus, the Department has also established long term management initiatives and performance goals to address cross-cutting Departmental functions such as financial, information technology, and human resources management which contribute to the achievement of the Department's strategic and performance goals. 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.

6.1.1 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 both its FY 1997 and FY 1998 Consolidated Financial Statements. However, recently enacted legislation and new accounting standards place significant new responsibilities on the Departments's financial management community. The FY 2001 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 2001 Performance Goals
FM1. The majority of DOL financial systems meet the standards set in the Federal Financial Management Improvement Act (FFMIA) and the Government Management Reform Act (GMRA).
FM2. DOL meets all new accounting standards issued by the Federal Accounting Systems Advisory Board (FASAB) including the Managerial Cost Accounting Standard.

Means and Strategies

Operating Agencies: All DOL agencies

Sustained Efforts in FY 2001:

  • The Department will have corrected the majority of system weaknesses for those that were out of compliance with the Federal Financial Management Improvement Act (FFMIA). Ongoing effort will be to closely monitor all system modifications to ensure continued compliance with FFMIA. (FM1)

  • The Federal Accounting Standards Advisory Board's Managerial Cost Accounting standard phases in progressively detailed requirements over several years. DOL plans call for maintaining initial FY 1999 cost accounting information for the eleven outcome goals in the FY 2000 Performance Plan. In addition, the OCFO has partnered with DOL agencies to initiate several cost accounting pilot projects in order to meet some of these new requirements. (FM2)

  • The government-wide Human Resources Committee of the CFO Council, chaired by the Department's Chief Financial Officer, has established core competency guidelines. GAO audits have identified financial management training programs as inadequate to bringing financial managers up to the task of operating modern financial management systems. The Department will participate in the achievement of several professional development goals established by the CFO Council, which include conducting needs assessments, establishing individual development plans, promoting attainment of professional certifications and attaining a significant increase in the hours of continuing professional education per financial management employee in the Department. The Department will continue to upgrade the number and variety of courses made available to financial management personnel, including introduction of distributed learning techniques. (FM1 & 2)

  • To leverage collective recruitment efforts, meet the demands of the new government-wide financial legislation, and address the rapid changes in the DOL financial workforce, the Department's Chief Financial Officer Advisory Council developed the Financial Management Careers Program (FMIP) to develop highly qualified individuals who will undertake future leadership roles in financial management. We will continue to hire and train individuals under this program. (FM1 & 2) Efforts to modernize DOL's Central Accounting System (DOLAR$) will continue to ensure ongoing compliance with regulations, conformance with technical standards, and the ability to provide accurate and timely financial management information to meet both internal and external demands. (FM1 & 2)

Significant New or Enhanced Efforts in FY 2001:

  • Cost accounting applications will extend beyond the outcome goal level to developing cost information in support of the Department's performance goals in the FY 2000 Performance Plan. (FM2)

  • The Office of the Chief Financial Officer will continue a DOL-wide program to target financial management training in critical skill areas including the application of cost accounting standards and financial management systems development training. The Financial Management Careers Program will include a number of new learning options, including a variety of college courses via the Internet. (FM1 & 2)

  • The OCFO will review Departmental performance plans, data sources that support those plans, and other documents that assess performance plan quality (e.g., GAO, OMB, OIG reports) in order to assist program agencies' to meet their financial performance goals. (FMI & 2)

6.1.2 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 reduce risks, improve efficiencies, and contain costs through greater integration of Departmental IT systems, thereby providing DOL employees with quality, reliable automated tools and useful information so they can better perform their jobs.

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 and the Management Review Council chaired by the Deputy Secretary.

In addition to the program-specific automated system initiatives of individual DOL agencies, DOL will expand 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's key performance goals and measures for information technology management in FY 2001 are detailed below.

Outcome Goal IT: Improve Organizational Performance and Communication
through Effective Deployment of IT Resources
FY 2001 Performance Goals
Increase integration of DOL IT systems and extend access to automated services.

Means and Strategies

Sustained Efforts in 2001:

  • The Department will continue to support all communication technology currently in place, remote access, and Internet/Intranet (LaborNet) access requirements.

  • Accommodation of increased demands for communication resources brought about by implementation of the People Power system and an increasing number of Flexiplace employees will be continued.

  • Analysis of DOL host computer systems for vulnerabilities and performance testing of critical systems will be continued. Risk analysis of major application systems and implementation of the Departmental System Security Plan will provide support to employees meeting continual requirements for critical infrastructure protection.

  • Departmental initiatives to integrate People Power software applications into automated processing and information systems will be continued with a Human Resource functionality expansion allowing managers and employees to initiate personnel processing actions. Additional administrative applications will also be interfaced with the People Power database and workflow structures.

  • Expansion of DOL Internet site search tool functionality to enhance information retrieval capability and Internet publishing to include audio/video mediums will be continued.

  • The Department will maintain the Chief Information Officer Database providing current IT environmental information and will fully implement an automated DOL IT Capital Planning system.

  • The Department will focus on Internet service as we continue to comply with Government-wide initiatives such as the Electronic Freedom of Information Act Amendments of 1996 (EFOIA), Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act (SBREFA), expansion of information access under Government Information Locator System established by the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995, and implementation of regulatory development activities to include public review and commenting on proposed regulations.

Significant New or Enhanced Efforts in 2001:

  • The Department will implement a common office automation suite of software DOL-wide.

  • The Department will implement an interoperability standard in order to enhance internal communication, improve effectiveness and efficiency of constituent functions.

  • Performance and operational requirements for the communications infrastructure to support the integrated People Power payroll and personnel application will be defined and developed.

  • Develop an environment for workgroups to conduct collaborative development and review of material and documents (including automated document review and approval) eliminating traditional serial processes with paper based routing/approval and to implement new administrative processes as workflow applications.

6.1.3 Human Resources Management

The Department recognizes that to maximize successful operations, ongoing investments in human capital are necessary. This will be achieved through making DOL a model workplace that facilitates the recruitment and retention of a diverse, highly-skilled workforce capable of meeting strategic and performance goals, while creating a "family-friendly" environment that is accessible to all employees and enables them to better balance their work and family obligations. The acquisition of needed new skills and ongoing skills improvement among the DOL workforce will be facilitated through lifelong learning initiatives.

DOL has initiated lifelong learning programs that will help produce a workforce with job skills necessary to meet evolving program needs, re-engineered work processes, and rapidly changing technological advances. Emphasis will be placed on skills involving team work, coaching, mentoring, problem solving, and analysis. 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 aggressive outreach and recruitment targeting effort for under-represented groups will be pursued to attract a diverse and highly skilled workforce reflective of America. To address the growing challenge of attracting and retaining employees who have highly sought after technical skills, DOL will pursue the use of various Departmental/OPM direct hiring authorities and additional personnel and workplace flexibilities. DOL will use every opportunity to expand existing labor-partnership efforts to assure joint cooperation with employee organizations to progressively address workplace issues and provide the highest quality services to the American public. Alternative Dispute Resolution techniques will be the preferred method of resolving informal equal opportunity complaints and grievances.

In support of the Federal Worker 2000 Presidential Initiative on Safety, the Department will provide a safe and healthful workplace for its employees that enhances productivity and cost effectiveness. The physical fitness and mental health of employees is actively promoted by providing voluntary programs and services which are readily available.

DOL Outcome Goal HR: Establish DOL as a Model Workplace
FY 2001 Performance Goals
HR1. Recruit, develop and retain a highly competent and diverse workforce to support the accomplishment of the DOL mission by:
  a) Attract a diverse, highly competent applicant pool of candidates.
  b) Provide lifelong learning programs and services to support mission accomplishment.
  c) Implement and expand model workplace initiatives to enhance morale and retention rates.
HR2. Maintain organizational commitment and pro-active effort to improving health and safety in the workplace.
HR3. All DOL agencies are in compliance with applicable Civil Rights laws and regulations

Means and Strategies

Sustained efforts in FY 2001:

  • The Department will continue efforts to find and test alternative methods for presenting training, and for dissemination of material (emphasizing various IT mediums) that can be used to guide employees in career planning and development. (HR1)

  • The Department will provide common needs learning experiences to meet specific agency requirements, and expand on learning development efforts by conducting periodic surveys to continually determine DOL agency training needs and approaches. (HR1)

  • There will be a continual effort to enhance the partnership between the Department and the National Council of Field Labor Locals (NCFLL) at all organizational levels; and to reduce third-party cases involving Labor/Management Relations through training and pre-decisional involvement and communication. (HR1)

  • The Department will continue to offer referral services for employees in Work-Life areas of child care, elder care, and adoptive services. Services will include a toll free "1-800" telephone counseling service and the use of the Internet as an additional feature to access referral resources. (HR2)

  • The Department will 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)

  • DOL will monitor on-the-job accidents, injuries, and illnesses and will provide accident and injury statistics to assist in identifying problems and corrective actions necessary to reduce accident and injury rates. (HR2)

  • DOL will review internal practices and procedures to improve claims processing and increase worker accommodations. (HR2)

  • Appropriate DOL Agencies will be reviewed to ensure compliance with the applicable Civil Rights laws and regulations. (HR3)

Significant, New or Enhanced Efforts in FY 2001:

  • DOL will establish interactive cross agency training and tutorial programs, college and university level programs on line via the Internet, and where funding permits, classroom-based video-conferencing and laboratory classrooms. (HR1)

  • A nationwide program for Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) to resolve DOL workplace disputes and grievances in a more timely and cost-effective manner will be implemented. (HR3)

  • As a measure of implementing the Federal Worker 2000 Presidential Initiative on Safety, reports generated by the Departmental Safety and Health Information Management System (SHIMS) will be used to target resources toward agencies and work sites with elevated injury rates. The Department will identify best practices used to reduce the incidence of accidents and to manage lost-time injury cases. (HR2)

6.2 Program Improvement Opportunities Identified by OIG, GAO, and DOL Management

The Department of Labor is committed to working with the OIG and GAO to improve its management systems and procedures. Periodic reporting to the Department's Management Review Council on the status of corrective actions responsive to audit recommendations will be maintained throughout the year. The budget process will consider the resources needed in each year to take necessary corrective actions on audit recommendations. OIG, GAO, and DOL managers have identified a number of management improvement opportunities; the actions DOL plans to take in FY 2000 to address them are highlighted below.

6.2.1 GAO High Risk and Other Audits

None of the Department's programs are the subject of management weaknesses reported in the current GAO high risk audit series. However, this Performance Plan addresses the Year 2000 Information Technology compliance issue which is the subject of a government-wide GAO audit in its high risk series.

The Department expects to close out most open GAO audits before the end of FY 2000 including:

  • The efficiency of youth services will be improved through consolidation of programs and introduction of systems that reflect one-stop principles of customer focus, integration and accountability for performance.

The GAO also issued an audit report addressing the Department's and other federal agencies' implementation of the Government Performance and Results Act. While the audit did not make specific recommendations for formal follow up, the Department took prompt action to strengthen GPRA implementation. This Performance Plan has been developed within a "one Department" framework unifying all agency programs within the three over-arching strategic goals discussed above. The most significant management challenges in FY 2000 and beyond will be in continuing our GPRA implementation efforts by -- developing the systems infrastructure and management processes needed to identify and measure program results and costs throughout the Department.

6.2.2 Program Improvement Opportunities Identified by the OIG and DOL Management.

Improving program performance is a priority of the Department, and OIG audit reports and DOL management processes identify issues on a regular basis to increase the effectiveness and efficiency of DOL's services to America's workers and employers. Many issues arising from OIG audits and management processes are resolved within a limited time frame. However, some opportunities for program improvement require a more sustained effort over several years, and are included within the scope of our GPRA plans. Examples of several long-term program improvement initiatives which are referenced both in the Department's FY 2001 plan and in a listing of top management issues prepared by OIG on December 8, 1999, are discussed below. Other issues presented in OIG's recent paper should be incorporated in agency level annual performance plans.

Effectiveness of the Welfare-to-Work Initiative The OIG conducted audits of numerous Welfare to Work grantees during the past year in order to assess their status, identify vulnerabilities, and recommend timely corrective actions. The audits concluded that Welfare to Work implementation is proceeding slowly because of unforseen or unconsidered factors when the States developed their service and outcome levels and spending estimates. Section 4 of this plan discusses the Department's ambitious outcome goals for the Welfare-to-Work program coupled with incentives to high performing States which are expected to encourage our program partners to advance the implementation of this program.

Quality of Program Results Data The OIG's paper on top management issues notes that the Department continues to face a number of challenges in achieving the full accountability envisioned by the Federal Accounting Standards Advisory Board's Statement of Federal Financial Accounting Standard Number 4, which is aimed at providing reliable and timely accounting for the full cost of Federal programs and activities, and by the Government Performance and Results Act. OIG discussed the importance of linking financial and performance data, noting the need for the Department to ensure the successful expansion of financial accounting, including cost accounting to identify the full cost of specific programs and activities. With respect to GPRA implementation, the OIG discussed the Department's limitations to access, or control over the quality of, program results data that will be used to determine the attainment of its strategic plan goals.

Both the linking of financial and performance data and the data limitations concerns noted by OIG are addressed in this annual performance plan, in Sections 5 and 6, and the Department is working closely with OIG in improving the implementation of GPRA. For example, as cited in OIG's top management issues paper, the Employment and Training Administration, in conjunction with OIG, developed a guide to review the quality of State management information system data. Section 5 references a recently initiated project which will extend into FY 2001 to develop a comprehensive data validity system for the core indicators under the Department's employment and training programs, and discusses the Department's efforts to continue the linking of cost information to performance. The Department has also developed a performance goal (FM 2) for FY 2001 to meet all new accounting standards issued by the Federal Accounting Systems Advisory Board, including the Managerial Cost Accounting Standard.

Protection of Worker Benefit Funds Under this topic, OIG discussed an audit report regarding the potential for the Federal Employees' Compensation Act (FECA) program to achieve significant reductions in medical costs. In addition to implementing the specific recommendations provided by OIG, the Department has also established a FY 2001 performance goal (2.2F) for the FECA program to reduce the overall average medical service cost per case by .5%.

Compliance with New Financial Management Requirements OIG noted in the top management issues paper the need for the Department to make every effort to ensure actions are taken to correct deficiencies in financial management systems identified through Federal Financial Management Improvement Act (FMFIA) reviews, and mentioned those systems which were found to be out of compliance during FY 1998. Section 6 of this plan establishes as a performance goal (FM1) for FY 2001 that all DOL financial systems meet the standards set in the FMFIA and the Government Management Reform Act (GMRA). Similar goals have been included in the Department's FY 1999 and FY 2000 plans and are ensuring the Department's continuing focus on this issue. As a result, corrective action schedules and related project plans were established during FY 1999 for all but one of the systems cited in the FY 1998 audit, and options are under study for bringing the remaining system into compliance.

6.3 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.

Additionally, in accordance with the provisions of the Workforce Investment Act, DOL's Employment and Training Administration will be embedding customer satisfaction in its performance measurement strategy and linking awards and sanctions to performance. Customer satisfaction measures will be part of the core measures for evaluating local and State programs with participant and employer customer satisfaction serving as an important basis for the award of incentives and sanctions under the WIA. DOL is also working with several research firms on the development of customer satisfaction measurement instruments and the benchmarking of results against private sector companies, such as hotels, department stores and fast food restaurants.

Not only will DOL improve processes for "listening" to its customers, but it 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 customer's 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.

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