Department of Labor Has Failed To Take the Lead in Promoting Private Sector Productivity

AFMD-81-10: Published: Dec 4, 1980. Publicly Released: Dec 4, 1980.

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Productivity improvement is a critical factor underlying economic growth and prosperity. The National Productivity Council is directed to act as a focal point in the executive branch for efforts to improve productivity in the private and public sectors of the economy. The Department of Labor has been directed to provide federal leadership in productivity growth through improvement and innovative utilization of employee skills and capabilities, protection and improvement of the quality of working life in conjunction with productivity improvement, and labor-management cooperation in productivity growth.

GAO found that the Department of Labor has done very little to fulfill this leadership mandate, because of the low priority which it assigned to this responsibility. Its existing, legislatively mandated programs do not have a direct focus on productivity and it has developed no new programs in response to the President's directive. Labor's failure to respond to the President's directive and provide leadership has hampered federal efforts to improve private sector productivity. Because there are no funds in Labor's annual appropriation specifically earmarked for implementation of improvement of productivity, Labor must use general funds from other programs for this program.

Matter for Congressional Consideration

  1. Status: Closed - Not Implemented

    Comments: There is no current congressional interest in taking on this recommendation due to the politically sensitive nature. The current administration tends to eliminate, rather than add, the kinds of program actions recommended.

    Matter: Congress should enact the following provisions into law. The Secretary of Labor shall establish an organizational unit at the Assistant Secretary level to serve as a focal point for federal efforts to increase productivity within the private sector through more effective use of human resources, while at the same time protecting and and promoting the economic and social well-being of workers. The organizational unit will: (1) develop, monitor, and update a Department-wide human resource productivity plan; (2) coordinate productivity programs within the Department and among departments and agencies with human resources productivity programs; (3) monitor and evaluate the productivity impact of Department of Labor programs; (4) provide liaison with the private sector organizations concerned with human resources productivity; and (5) support research, information dissemination, and technical and financial assistance for private sector efforts to enhance human resources productivity.

Recommendations for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: Secretary of Labor Order 784, dated September 20, 1984, established the Labor-Management and Cooperative Program Office, an autonomous office within the Department to provide leadership in promoting private sector productivity.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Labor should assign specific leadership responsibilities to agencies within the Department.

    Agency Affected: Department of Labor

  2. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: Secretary of Labor Order 784, dated September 20, 1984, established the Labor-Management and Cooperative Program Office, an autonomous office within the Department to provide leadership in promoting private sector productivity.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Labor should establish an ad hoc group within the Department to: (1) assess program needs; (2) consult with business, labor, and academic leaders to determine appropriate actions for the Department to take to improve productivity; (3) define program goals and objectives, plan implementation; and (4) recommend organizational changes for the Department.

    Agency Affected: Department of Labor

  3. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: Secretary of Labor Order 784, dated September 20, 1984, established the Labor-Management and Cooperative Program Office, an autonomous office within the Department to provide leadership in promoting private sector productivity.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Labor should create a focal point at the Assistant Secretary level to prepare specific program goals and objectives, to coordinate and monitor the Department's programs, and to coordinate programs with other agencies.

    Agency Affected: Department of Labor

 

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