GAO Human Capital Management:
Efforts Taken to Ensure Effective Campus Recruitment
GAO-11-615T: Published: Jun 21, 2011. Publicly Released: Jun 21, 2011.
This testimony discusses GAO's campus recruitment program. As an organization committed to having a high-performing, diverse workforce, GAO places great importance on attracting, hiring, training, and retaining employees with the skills needed to support GAO's mission to serve Congress and the American public. GAO has a multi-disciplinary workforce, with most staff having backgrounds in public policy, public administration, law, business, computer science, accounting, social sciences, or economics. While our current and future hiring will be shaped by today's constrained budget environment, over the past 5 years, on average, GAO has hired about 300 employees each year. The majority of these hires were for analyst and analyst-related positions at the entry level. GAO also has a robust paid student intern program each year. Many of these interns return as entry-level analysts. Having a strong campus recruitment program has played a key role in attracting highly qualified candidates for our permanent and intern positions and building our workforce. In response to congressional request, the remarks will focus on (1) the strong partnerships developed through our campus recruitment program, (2) recent actions GAO has taken to enhance the program and the positive outcomes GAO has experienced, and (3) the programs and policies we have in place to support new staff.
Through our campus recruitment program, we have established ongoing relationships with many colleges and universities across the country. While we advertise all of our new positions publicly, currently we have relationships with about 70 colleges and universities, including private and public colleges and universities, Historically Black Colleges and Universities, Hispanic-serving institutions, and other minority-serving institutions. These targeted schools have academic programs relevant to our skill needs (e.g., public policy, accounting, business or computer science) and that prepare students well for success at GAO. Our relationship-building over the years has been based primarily on visiting many of these schools to participate in on-campus events. As part of overall efforts to focus more attention on our strategic human capital management, we have taken proactive steps to improve our recruitment program. Specifically, we (1) established stronger linkages between our recruitment efforts and organizational workforce needs, (2) increased diversity of and enhanced supports for our staff serving as recruiters, and (3) instituted stronger program management and accountability processes. We have seen positive outcomes from these efforts. Along with attracting and hiring high-quality, diverse staff, we have implemented programs and policies to support new staff once they arrive at GAO. The support for our entry-level staff comes predominantly through their participation in our highly regarded, 2-year, Professional Development Program (PDP). This program provides new employees with the foundations to be successful because it teaches them about our core values, how we do our work, and the standards by which we assess our performance. All entry-level analyst or analyst-related new hires are assigned advisers to assist in their development and provide support, although staff are also strongly encouraged to take an active role in their own career development by crafting Individual Development Plans and assessing their own strengths and growth areas. Staff receive multiple assignments while in the program so they can gain firsthand experience with the wide range of our work. They also receive a rigorous regimen of classroom and on-the-job training to learn about our work processes and requirements. Staff in the PDP program also receive formal feedback every 3 months and twice-yearly performance appraisals that can result in salary increases. In addition, actions of our senior leaders as well as several policies and other programs help our new hires make a successful adjustment to GAO. The Comptroller General and others meet with new employees during their first few months to answer any questions about GAO or our relationship with Congress. Other senior managers, including Managing Directors and directors in each GAO team, are encouraged not only to meet with new staff but take an active role in their development and day-to-day work environment. We also have policies in place to foster an inclusive and supportive work environment and help all staff balance work and life. We also have a student loan repayment program to help eligible staff defray educational costs. PDP staff, as all staff at GAO, can take advantage of a mentoring program to assist staff in becoming effective leaders, managing their work environments, and developing their careers. These programs and policies have helped make GAO a great place to work.