The core of this plan consists of statements and quantification of goals and objectives of the agency, or what it is all about. Example of a goal would be "eliminate occupational injury in the United States." An objective related to this goal would be "The Labor Department’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration will cut injury and illness rates by a fifth in at least 50,000 of the most hazardous workplaces."
The strategic plan sets forth the goals and objectives associated with the agency's mission that will be worked towards, and eventually achieved, by the agency's staff and management. Many goals and objectives are to be achieved in the distant future since they are related to significant problems not likely to be resolved in the short term. The "annual plan" is the budget request that specifies how the resources requested for a fiscal year will help achieve the goals and objectives specified in the strategic plan, with statements as to what part of the problem may be addressed by the resources for the specific fiscal year.
The strategic plan is required by the Government Performance and Results Act (GPRA). OMB's guidance provides additional instructions to agencies on what is to be done. These plans should be available to the public. GPRA was enacted to:
- Improve the confidence of the American people in the capability of the Federal Government, by systematically holding Federal agencies accountable for achieving program results;
- Initiate program performance reform with a series of pilot projects in setting program goals, measuring program performance against those goals, and reporting publicly on their progress;
- Improve Federal program effectiveness and public accountability by promoting a new focus on results, service quality, and customer satisfaction;
- Help Federal managers improve service delivery, by requiring that they plan for meeting program objectives and by providing them with information about program results and service quality;
- Improve congressional decision making by providing more objective information on achieving statutory objectives, and on the relative effectiveness and efficiency of Federal programs and spending; and
- Improve internal management of the Federal Government.
Agency prepares the strategic plan. Once the initial plan is prepared, revisions would be only fine tunings of the document unless there are major policy changes. The main element of the strategic plans is a definition of the goals and objectives that the agency is to achieve. This may involve some difficult work, but once it is done and the goals and objectives are accepted by OMB, Congress, and the public, there is little that needs to be done in relation to definition and description of the goals and objectives. They should not change every year. Level of detail of strategic plans is generally too broad to offer useful guidance for an operating manager when making day to day decisions on how to use resources.
The initial set of strategic plans should have been completed by all agencies before the end of 1997. GPRA requires that the strategic plan be revised at least every three years. The first plans were due no later than September 30, 1997.
Documents and Links
Agency strategic plans are public documents. Most agencies have them on the Internet, with or closely associated with their budget materials. For links, go to the agency budgets links or to strategies
GPRA related materials can be found at OMB's web site, with a link to the text of the statute.