A r c h i v e d  I n f o r m a t i o n

FY 1999 Annual Plan - Volume 1. Objective Performance Plans and Data Quality - February 27, 1998

Introduction and Overview

The Department of Education's Mission

To ensure equal access to education and to promote educational excellence throughout the nation.

Exhibit 1

On September 30, 1997, the U.S. Department of Education delivered its first "Results Act" Strategic Plan for 1998-2002 to Congress. The plan included the Department's mission: To ensure equal access to education and to promote educational excellence throughout the nation. The plan also included four goals--three addressing critical national priorities in education and one to make the Department efficient and an effective partner with states, local communities, and higher education institutions in the important work of educational improvement. Our goals are:

  1. Help all students reach challenging academic standards so that they are prepared for responsible citizenship, further learning, and productive employment.
  2. Build a solid foundation for learning for all children.
  3. Ensure access to postsecondary education and lifelong learning.
  4. Make ED a high-performance organization by focusing on results, service quality, and customer satisfaction.

The goals represent key customer groups and education processes, starting with support for the elementary and secondary school system, moving to support for specific K-12 target populations, and then to postsecondary education access. (See Exhibit 1 for an illustration of the relationship of the goals.)

To accomplish the goals, the Strategic Plan included objectives and strategies and, for accountability and to inform decision-making, performance indicators. The objectives are shown in the framework chart on page 10. Performance indicators ranged from end outcome measures such as fourth-grade children's progress on the National Assessment of Educational Progress to outputs such as the number of students participating in the comparatively new School-to-Work program, to process measures such as the number of states that have instituted standards for core subjects such as reading and math.

To make the plan work, the Department has:

This document presents the Congress with the Department's FY 1999 Annual Plan. It includes annual performance plans for each objective in the Department's Strategic Plan and program performance plans that cover all of the Department's programs. Budget details for the programs are available in the Department's Congressional Justifications.

Development of an Annual Plan that links with the FY 1999 President's Budget

The Strategic Plan's long-term goals and objectives provide the framework for performance planning within the Department of Education, including budget justifications and performance plans for individual programs and offices. The Department of Education's first-ever Annual Performance Plan is fully integrated into the agency's FY 1999 budget request. The Department's FY 1999 budget request aligns budgetary and other programmatic and management resources to help reach Strategic Plan goals and objectives and to support the program objectives and performance indicators reflected in the Department's new set of program performance plans.

Selected FY 1999 budget items.

The following examples illustrate how the FY 1999 budget supports each Strategic Plan goal and objective in FY 1999.

Goal 1: High Standards for All Students (an estimated $6.4 billion in the FY 1999 budget). To help raise the academic standards for all students, the annual plan includes:

Goal 2: A Solid Foundation for Learning (an estimated $13.8 billion in the FY 1999 budget). To reach the challenging academic standards called for in Goal 1, children with specific needs must be given the appropriate opportunities to enter school ready to learn; to master the basics of reading by the end of the third grade; and to know math by the end of the eighth grade. Highlights of FY 1999 budget proposals to achieve these aims include:

Goal 3: Postsecondary Education and Lifelong Learning ($15.8 billion in the FY 1999 budget). The Department of Education supports significant levels of student financial assistance and provides information and assistance to help families and student take best advantage of that assistance. Examples of new or increased initiatives to directed at strengthening access to postsecondary education are:

Key management reforms

The Department is committed to engaging every employee in the tasks needed to accomplish the Strategic Plan goals and objectives, to improving internal performance management systems, and to reallocating resources as needed. In the wake of the reinventing government movement and passage of the Results Act, the Department is investing in its systems and people to ensure that it is in touch with and responsive to educational needs and has the capacity to carry out its leadership role in improving education in America.

The most sizable management function in the Department is the administration of postsecondary student financial aid. Financial aid, including budget authority and loans, totals 70 percent of ED's funding. Administration of that function takes about 60 percent of Departmental management funding and about 40 percent of all ED staff (in full-time equivalents). Management in this area also involves major contracts for data systems that account for 38 percent of that 60 percent. As a result, the Department has a special objective focused on student financial aid management.

The cross-cutting management objectives are highlighted under Goal 4: "make the Education Department a high-performance organization." These objectives are also realized through specific program improvements discussed under the objectives for the three prior goals. Examples of both Department-wide and program specific management improvements for FY 1999 are:

Coordination with other federal agencies

The Annual Plan identifies opportunities to improve coordination across agencies to enable the Department to better serve program participants and to reduce inefficiencies in service delivery. Many federal agencies have education functions, ranging from staff training, fellowships, grants, or loans for postsecondary students; grants and other supports to state and local education agencies; and even the operation of schools (Departments of Defense and Interior). In addition, coordination is often critical for management areas such as verifying student family income and other financial information with Treasury and Social Security Administration records.

Through ongoing communication, joint research, coordinated dissemination and technical assistance, and streamlined regulations and reporting requirements, the Education Department is building strong collaborations with other federal agencies. Coordination activities are highlighted in each objective performance plan, starting on page 12. In addition, a summary table listing coordination activities by federal departments and independent agencies is shown in Appendix A.

Highlights of cross-agency coordination within our annual plan are:

Working with our education partners

To accomplish our goals, the Department works in partnership with states, schools, communities, institutions of higher education, and financial institutions--and through them with students, teachers and professors, families, administrators, and employers. While our partners may well fully support the mission and goals we espouse, there is room for differing opinions on how to reach those goals. We are committed to working jointly with states and communities to establish performance partnerships that respect varying local circumstances, set mutual goals, provide or identify sufficient resources to achieve success, and give flexibility in administration in return for accountability for performance.

In addition to providing financial support of $36.8 billion in FY 1999, examples of partnership activities will include:

Using the plan

Historically a weak link in management improvement systems has been that improvement plans fail to take hold and are not seriously implemented throughout the agency. The Department is well aware of the serious flaws in implementing past federal management reforms, such as zero-based budgeting and management-by-objectives. To help ensure effective plan implementation, the Department will:

Verifying and validating data and results

The quality of performance-driven decisions are no better than the quality of the data on which they are based. To help ensure reliable and valid performance measures, the Department will: develop data standards for performance measures consistent with standards used by the Department's statistical agency; train appropriate staff in data quality assurance procedures; work with our elementary and secondary partners, including the Chief State School Officers, to pilot test state/local systems aligned with national performance indicators; work to streamline currently fragmented postsecondary data systems through developing an integrated systems architecture; and monitor information quality through independent evaluations and through coordinated activities with the Inspector General.

Exhibit 2
U.S. Department of Education
Framework of Strategic Plan Goals and Objectives
Mission: To ensure equal access to education and to promote educational excellence throughout the nation.
Goal 1.
Help all students reach challenging academic standards so that they are prepared for responsible citizenship, further learning, and productive employment.
Goal 2.
Build a solid foundation for learning for all children.
Goal 3.
Ensure access to postsecondary education and lifelong learning.
Goal 4.
Make ED a high-performance organization by focusing on results, service quality, and customer satisfaction.

1.1 States develop and implement challenging standards and assessments for all students in the core academic subjects.

1.2 Every state has a school-to-work system that increases student achievement, improves technical skills, and broadens career opportunities for all.

1.3 Schools are strong, safe, disciplined, and drug-free.

1.4 A talented and dedicated teacher is in every classroom in America.

1.5 Families and communities are fully involved with schools and school improvement efforts.

1.6 Greater public school choice will be available to students and families.

1.7 Schools use advanced technology for all students and teachers to improve education.


2.1 All children enter school ready to learn.

2.2 Every child reads independently by the end of the third grade.

2.3 Every eighth-grader masters challenging mathematics, including the foundations of algebra and geometry.

2.4 Special populations receive appropriate services and assessments consistent with high standards.


3.1 Secondary school students get the information, skills, and support they need to prepare successfully for postsecondary education.

3.2 Postsecondary students receive the financial aid and support services they need to enroll in and complete their educational program.

3.3 Postsecondary student aid delivery and program management is efficient, financially sound, and customer-responsive.

3.4 Adults can strengthen their skills and improve their earning power over their lifetime through lifelong learning.


4.1 Our customers receive fast, seamless service and dissemination of high-quality information and products.

4.2 Our partners have the support and flexibility they need without diminishing accountability for results.

4.3 An up-to-date knowledge base is available from education research to support education reform and equity.

4.4 Our information technology investments are sound and used to improve impact and efficiency.

4.5 The Department's employees are highly skilled and high-performing.

4.6 Management of our programs and services ensures financial integrity.

4.7 All levels of the agency are fully performance


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