Preliminary Observations on the Federal Protective Service's Workforce Analysis and Planning Efforts
GAO-10-802R: Published: Jun 14, 2010. Publicly Released: Jun 14, 2010.
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We have identified several workforce related challenges faced by the Federal Protective Service (FPS) since its transfer to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) in 2003, including low morale among staff, increased attrition, and the loss of institutional knowledge. Our prior work has found that FPS continues to face challenges in identifying the optimal number of staff needed to adequately conduct its mission. In response to Congress's mandate in the House Report, which accompanied the DHS fiscal year 2009 Appropriations Act requiring GAO to evaluate the adequacy of FPS's workforce size, this report includes preliminary observations on the following questions: (1) What is the current status of FPS's efforts to determine its workforce requirements? (2) To what extent do FPS's efforts align with commonly used workforce analysis and planning practices? (3) What, if any, challenges may impede implementation of FPS's efforts?
FPS has taken steps to determine its workforce requirements, however, its workforce analysis plan is not finalized. FPS is using a model for determining optimal workforce size based on workload, risk, and work standard assumptions. As part of the Federal Protective Service-National Protection and Programs Directorate (FPS-NPPD) transition plan, FPS stated it would "create a robust workforce staffing model that is scalable based on changes in risk, threat, and consequence." This model is intended to provide the basis for staffing recommendations in future budget requests. According to FPS officials, the model contains elements of staffing models used by other federal law enforcement agencies, including the U.S. Marshals Service and the Secret Service. FPS's staffing analysis methodology appears to incorporate commonly used industry practices and processes for conducting workforce analysis. For example, the methodology: (1) Identifies risk level and quantity of facilities and posts to be secured or protected. (2) Incorporates a workload analyses (identifying mission, tasks, and time to conduct activities). We found there are no widely used established criteria, formulas, or standards for determining the size of law enforcement and physical security workforces. However, officials in most organizations we spoke with told us that budget ultimately drives staffing decisions and is the primary consideration when making these decisions. FPS may face several potential challenges to implementing its workforce analysis plan: (1) Funding: FPS charges federal agencies to fund its services, however, FPS officials have not told us how they intend to fund an increased staff size. FPS's security fee has increased over 100 percent since its transfer to DHS, and FPS customers are already concerned about cost and quality of security and in the past fee increases have been met with resistance from GSA and tenant agencies. Additionally, FPS did not request additional funding in its fiscal year 2011 budget. (2) Data Quality: The accuracy of FPS's workload analysis is unclear due to the quality of workload data used. For example we have reported FPS does not accurately track key activities such as facility assessments and guard inspections. Additionally, with the implementation of a new automated risk assessment and management program, which may reduce the time it takes to conduct specific activities, the use of historical workload data may not be accurate. (3) Performance Measures: FPS does not have metrics in place to measure how changes to its workforce size, composition, and allocation are addressing its operational challenges. FPS may face several potential challenges to implementing its workforce analysis plan: (1) Human Capital Planning-FPS has not developed a strategic human capital plan to aid in long-term workforce planning and management as GAO recommended. (2) Hiring Processes-FPS recently experienced difficulties hiring and on-boarding about 180 inspectors, therefore it is unclear how it plans on managing the hiring of any additional staff that may be needed as a result of its workforce analysis plan. Additionally, FPS is no longer using Custom and Border Patrol's established human capital recruiting and hiring services. According to the transition plan, these services will be transferred to the Office of Personnel Management (3) Training-Continued backlogs at the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center (FLETC) will impact FPS'sability to provide training to new staff--subsequently, some of the approximately 180 inspectors hired last year have yet to complete all required training.