DOJ Workforce Planning:

Grant-Making Components Should Enhance the Utility of Their Staffing Models

GAO-13-92: Published: Dec 14, 2012. Publicly Released: Dec 14, 2012.

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What GAO Found

The Department of Justice's (DOJ) three grant-making components--the Office of Justice Programs (OJP), the Office of Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS), and the Office on Violence Against Women (OVW)--have partially met five of six leading practices, and fully met another, to ensure that the staffing models the contractor prepared for each of them to assess their workloads and workforce capacities are sound and reliable. These six leading practices are broad areas that represent a summary of the activities that should take place during the three stages of model design, development, and deployment. For example, the components partially met the leading practice for ensuring the credibility of data used in the models. This practice includes both verifying with staff that the models accurately depict the component's operations--an activity in which they fully engaged--and testing the models for logic and accuracy--an activity in which they partially engaged. Specifically, the components did not comprehensively check all of the models' formulas, and GAO found errors with all three components' models' retirement calculations. When left uncorrected, such errors have implications for workforce-related decisions and, ultimately, can affect the efficiency and effectiveness of component operations. In contrast, the components fully met one leading practice and its associated activities for leveraging stakeholders. For example, all three components engaged grant managers and senior program officials when working with the contractor to apply their knowledge and experience to design and develop the models. Moving forward, fully incorporating leading practices when updating the models for future use will better position the grant-making components to capitalize on the models' capacity and facilitate effective workforce planning and budgeting.

Due to the deficiencies GAO identified in the design, development, and deployment of the staffing models, grant-making components have not used the models to identify workforce gaps or to inform the preparation of annual budget requests. In particular, the three grant-making components have not used the models to determine critical skills and competencies of staff and identify related gaps. Further, officials from all three components stated that they would like to, or plan to, use the models to inform the upcoming fiscal year 2015 budget requests, but they do not yet have a strategy for doing so. For example, officials from all three grant-making components recognize that their human capital staff will need to share and interpret the data in the models with their budget staff, but as of late September 2012, no time frames, coordination principles, or guidance were in place to ensure this exchange of information. Standard practices for project management, including budget development, involve the establishment of timelines, coordination principles, and guidance. Developing, documenting, and implementing a strategy that includes these elements could help the grantmaking components better use the models to inform budget development. In particular, such a strategy should account for the full incorporation of leading practices to ensure the models are sound and reliable and that the quantifiable data from the models provide the proper context and justification to the Congress for the funding levels the components request.

Why GAO Did This Study

DOJ annually awards billions of dollars to thousands of grant recipients, which presents administrative and workload challenges for DOJ's workforce. In May 2011, DOJ's grant-making components began deploying new staffing models to analyze their workloads and better ensure that staffing levels and personnel assignments reflect their responsibilities. In November 2011, the conference report accompanying DOJ's FY 2012 appropriation directed GAO to evaluate each component's staffing model. In response, this report addresses (1) the extent to which the grant-making components incorporated leading practices to ensure that their staffing models are sound and reliable and (2) the components' use of the models to inform their workforce planning efforts, and the extent to which they used the models for budget development. GAO reviewed the staffing models the components procured under contract in 2011, and the updated, 2012 versions; identified six leading practices based on our prior work for ensuring the models' soundness and reliability; and assessed the components' actions for meeting each practice. GAO also interviewed component officials about their use of the models.

What GAO Recommends

GAO recommends that DOJ components fully incorporate leading practices to help ensure their staffing models' soundness and reliability, and develop and implement a strategy for using the models to inform workforce planning and budget development. DOJ agreed with these recommendations and reported it would take actions to address them.

For more information, contact David C. Maurer at (202) 512-9627 or maurerd@gao.gov.

Recommendations for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: We found that the three Department of Justice (DOJ) grant-making components, the Office of Justice Programs (OJP), the Office of the Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS), and the Office of Violence Against Women (OVW) had partially met leading practices to ensure their staffing models were sound and reliable, but could enhance their efforts to more fully meet leading practices related to the models' design, development, and deployment. As a result, we recommended that the Attorney General should direct the leadership of OJP, the COPS Office, and OVW to fully incorporate leading practices to ensure that their respective staffing models are sound and reliable by (1) implementing a more rigorous data review process with clear methods for confirming the credibility of data and verifying the results the staffing models generate; (2) reviewing changes to the data in the models to ensure accuracy and documenting and maintaining records of changes to protect model integrity; (3) defining and determining the respective roles and responsibilities of staff involved in reviewing, operating, and assisting with the staffing models; and (4) identifying training needs that address staff needs to fulfill responsibilities associated with the staffing models. By May 2015, OJP, the COPS Office, and OVW had each provided GAO with individual workforce planning tools (e.g. user guides, manuals, and training materials), which demonstrate that they have implemented rigorous data review processes, as well as methods for ensuring the accuracy of any changes to the model and recoding such changes to protect the model's integrity. In addition, their documentation outlines that they have defined and determined roles and shared responsibilities for staff involved in the models' implementation and that they have identified staff training needs. The workforce planning documentation and steps taken by the DOJ grant-making components are consistent with our recommendation.

    Recommendation: The Attorney General should direct the leadership of OJP, the COPS Office, and OVW to fully incorporate leading practices to ensure that their respective staffing models are sound and reliable, by: (1) implementing a more rigorous data review process with clear methods for confirming the credibility of data and verifying the results the staffing models generate; (2) reviewing changes to the data in the models to ensure accuracy and documenting and maintaining records of changes to protect model integrity; (3) defining and determining the respective roles and responsibilities of staff involved in reviewing, operating, and assisting with the staffing models; and (4) identifying training needs that address staff needs to fulfill responsibilities associated with the staffing models.

    Agency Affected: Department of Justice: Office of Justice Programs

  2. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: We found that the three Department of Justice (DOJ) grant-making components-Office of Justice Programs (OJP), the Office of the Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS), and the Office of Violence Against Women (OVW)--had not used their staffing models' results to determine critical skills and competencies of staff and identify related gaps, and that they lacked a strategy for applying what they had learned to the development of their budget requests. As a result, we recommended that the Attorney General should direct the leadership of OJP, the COPS Office, and OVW to develop, document, and implement a strategy that includes timelines, coordination efforts, and guidance for building budget submissions that takes into account the full incorporation of leading practices to ensure the staffing models are sound and reliable. By May of 2015, OJP, the COPS Office, and OVW Office had each provided GAO with individual workforce planning tools (e.g. user guides and manuals) that established timelines, coordination efforts, and guidance for building future budget submissions that take the findings from the staffing models into account. The workforce planning documentation and steps taken by the DOJ grant-making components are consistent with our recommendation.

    Recommendation: The Attorney General should direct the leadership of OJP, the COPS Office, and OVW to develop, document, and implement a strategy that includes timelines, coordination efforts, and guidance for building budget submissions that takes into account the full incorporation of leading practices to ensure the staffing models are sound and reliable.

    Agency Affected: Department of Justice: Office of Justice Programs

 

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