Intergovernmental Personnel Act of 1970:

Intergovernmental Purpose No Longer Emphasized

GGD-89-95: Published: Jun 19, 1989. Publicly Released: Jun 19, 1989.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed the Intergovernmental Personnel Act (IPA) mobility program, focusing on: (1) changes to the program; (2) the extent and nature of the program's use; (3) program cost; (4) agreement purposes and benefits; and (5) Office of Personnel Management (OPM) guidance and oversight.

GAO found that: (1) 36 federal agencies made a total of 3,996 assignment agreements with nonfederal organizations from fiscal years 1984 through 1988; (2) although the program's original purpose was to improve federal-state-local government cooperation by strengthening state and local governments' personnel capabilities, federal agencies have made most of their mobility assignments with colleges and universities in order to bring personnel with higher education into the federal government; (3) 96 percent of the federal and nonfederal employees assigned to the program were on detail; (4) federal agencies were the principal beneficiaries of mobility assignments and paid most of the assignment costs; (5) OPM has exercised minimal guidance and oversight over the program since 1982 and does not always obtain timely corrections of improper agreements; (6) OPM was not required to report to Congress on the program; and (7) agencies did not always require employees detailed to federal agencies to file financial disclosure reports for use in identifying and resolving any apparent conflicts of interest.

Matters for Congressional Consideration

  1. Status: Closed - Not Implemented

    Comments: No congressional action has been taken on this recommendation in several years and no action is anticipated.

    Matter: Congress may want to reassess and clarify the primary purpose of the mobility program.

  2. Status: Closed - Not Implemented

    Comments: No congressional action was taken on this recommendation in several years and no action is anticipated.

    Matter: Because of the widespread use of mobility assignments among federal agencies and the importance agencies give to the program, Congress may want to require OPM to report periodically on issues like program costs and benefits, legislative or regulatory requirement compliance, and program results.

Recommendations for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: OPM has implemented an IPA control system.

    Recommendation: To ensure effective use of the resources OPM has already committed to the mobility program, the Director, OPM, should implement a system to control the receipt of assignment agreements, agency evaluation reports, and other information necessary to effectively review federal agencies' use of the mobility program. OPM should use this information to direct agencies to make timely corrections of any improper agreements, as provided in current regulations.

    Agency Affected: Office of Personnel Management

  2. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: The Office of Government Ethics (OGE) interim regulation, revising the requirements for public and confidential financial disclosure reporting in the executive branch was published on April 7, 1992 (57 Fed. Reg. 11800). Although the regulation does not refer to IPA assignees, it will set criteria for the collection of such reports. Any IPA assignee meeting the criteria will have to file a report.

    Recommendation: To ensure effective use of the resources OPM has already committed to the mobility program, the Director, OPM, should specify the circumstances in which nonfederal employees on detail to federal agencies should file financial disclosure reports.

    Agency Affected: Office of Personnel Management

 

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