Audit reveals FDA not using performance data in management decisions

Only a third to a half of FDA managers are using performance data

The  Food and Drug Administration is not utilizing performance information effectively to help improve its management, the Government Accountability Office has concluded in a new report.

Only one-third to one-half of FDA managers are using performance data in their decision making, while fewer than one-half of agency managers received training on how to expand their use of such data, GAO said in the report.

Furthermore, a minority of FDA managers surveyed by the GAO said the the agency was making “great progress” in addressing four major areas of concern: developing the FDA workforce, modernizing its information systems, coordinating internally and externally, and keeping up with scientific advances.

Progress on a fifth area of concern, communicating public safety information to the public, scored higher in the GAO survey.

“Overall, while FDA is aware of its challenges and has taken steps to address them, the agency does not fully use practices for effective strategic planning and management,” the GAO report said. Progress in improving management has been uneven for the last three years, the report concluded.

In the area of improved IT systems, FDA’s Science Board issued a report in 2007 stating that the agency’s systems were inadequate to fulfill its mission. In June 2009 report, the GAO said the FDA had made some progress on upgrading its IT system infrastructure but lacked a strategic plan for its IT.

The GAO, in its new report, recommended that the FDA develop a strategic human capital plan and to align agency objectives to its activities. It also suggested that the agency make the FDA’s performance measures more results-oriented, use those measures to track their performance and provide training to its managers to utilize performance information.

FDA managers accepted the recommendations made in the report, and recently hired a contractor to help the agency with the human capital planning.

About the Author

Alice Lipowicz is a staff writer covering government 2.0, homeland security and other IT policies for Federal Computer Week.

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