Performance at the Department of State

Bureau of Resource Management
December 16, 2009

The Department of State has focused on building a culture of planning and results across the agency and the government. Since the passage of the Government Performance and Results Act in 1993, requiring federal agencies to prepare strategic plans of agency goals, the Department has improved capacity and successfully transitioned performance focus from high-level, general goals to better defining and assessing the results of diplomatic efforts and assistance programs with specific goals. Since November 2007, the Department has had a Performance Improvement Officer (PIO) who oversees and reviews for greater effectiveness the strategic plans, annual performance plans and report, and the goals of the agency.

The Department and USAID work closely together to meet the global challenges of the 21st century through long-term and short-term planning and performance initiatives. The agencies manage long-term performance through the joint State-USAID strategic plan (JSP) and the Quadrennial Diplomacy and Development Review (QDDR). Both processes build the framework for effective integration of diplomacy and development and institutionalize an ethic of review, analysis, and responsiveness within the agencies. The two global performance planning processes draw support from the short-term planning and performance of the headquarters-based Bureaus and overseas Missions. At the Mission level, strategic planning enables each country team to execute a coordinated delivery of program services that emphasizes one integrated U.S. government effort.

Each year, the Department plans and organizes its foreign policy resources and efforts based on an annual assessment of progress towards achieving seven strategic goals. To measure progress towards these goals in FY 2009, an intra-agency working group selected performance indicators that best reflect U.S Government foreign policy priorities and major areas of investment.

Marked by increasing rigor and intensive engagement at multiple levels of the organization, the process for developing and selecting performance indicators changed significantly in FY 2009. The performance management team, on behalf of the Performance Improvement Officer, engaged Department bureaus in a widespread campaign to develop more outcome-oriented indicators, replacing qualitative with quantitative indicators when appropriate and improving overall indicator quality. When possible, these indicators were designed to show quantitatively the Department’s progress on achieving its strategic goals and priorities.

Please note that the chart is not intended to show a trend line. While the shift to a set of more stable performance indicators will result in year-to-year comparability in the future, ratings shown in the bar chart include a set of indicators used for the first time in FY 2009. Therefore, there is limited ratings comparability from FY 2008 to 2009.

Performance Ratings FY 2006-20091
  FY 2006 FY 20072 FY 2008 FY 20093
On or Above Target 78% 86% 69% 63%
Below Target or Improved But Not Met 22% 14% 31% 38%

1 Data sources: 2006 - Performance and Accountability Report, Fiscal Year 2006; 2007 - Joint Highlights of Performance, Budget, and Financial Information, Fiscal Year 2007; 2008 - Citizens’ Report, Fiscal Year 2008, Summary of Performance and Financial Results. Performance ratings calculated from performance data provided in Department reports at the time of publication. Indicator ratings for which result data were not yet available at the time of publication have been omitted. (back to text)

2 The Department of State and USAID jointly reported indicators in the FY 2007 Joint Highlights Report. As a result, 2007 indicator ratings featured in this chart include USAID indicators. All other years include only Department of State indicators. (back to text)

3 Fiscal Year 2009 data featured in this chart reflects only indicators for which data are currently available. The Department will report on Foreign Assistance indicators for programs managed by State and/or shared with USAID, along with the remaining State Operations indicators in the FY 2011 Foreign Operations Congressional Budget Justification and FY 2009 joint Summary of Performance and Financial Information report published in February 2010. (back to text)

In addition, ratings are not yet available for new State Operations indicators for which targets have not yet been set. Furthermore, ratings for all Foreign Assistance indicators will not be available until data are reported. For this reason, indicators which did not have ratings at the time of publication are not included in the chart. The Department’s FY 2009 Summary of Performance and Financial Information will feature a more complete set of performance information when it is released in February 2010.