Personnel Practices:

Questionable Personnel Practices at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

GGD-90-43: Published: Jan 23, 1990. Publicly Released: Feb 13, 1990.

Additional Materials:

Contact:

Bernard L. Ungar
(202) 512-4232
contact@gao.gov

 

Office of Public Affairs
(202) 512-4800
youngc1@gao.gov

Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed the personnel policies and actions of the former director of the Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS).

GAO compared the number of special assistant, confidential assistant, and senior executive positions created during the former director's tenure and found that the former director: (1) created twice the number of those positions as his immediate predecessor; (2) improperly temporarily assigned two senior executives to nonfederal organizations; and (3) did not properly consider the impact of personnel actions on the FWS budget. GAO also found that: (1) most of the positions created resulted from FWS reorganizations, but a few newly created positions did not meet FWS needs and were not properly defined; (2) the former director did not change the basic responsibilities or geographic locations of positions that existed before his term; and (3) the former director's temporary emergency reassignment did not satisfy an unanticipated, urgent need to fill a position.

Recommendations for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Not Implemented

    Comments: FWS has reviewed the assignment and decided to allow it to continue until its expiration on August 11, 1990. FWS believes that the determination of cost for the assignment was allowable under current OPM guidance.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of the Interior should ensure that the assignment of the senior executive to the Coastal Conservation Association in Alabama, including arrangements for sharing salary and benefit costs, and similar assignments made in the future conform with the Intergovernmental Personnel Act of 1970 (IPA) and related Office of Personnel Management (OPM) regulations and guidance.

    Agency Affected: Department of the Interior

  2. Status: Closed - Not Implemented

    Comments: FWS still maintains that under 16 U.S.C. 661 and 16 U.S.C. 742f(a)(4), authorities exist for cooperation with the Society. These are statutory authorities separate and apart from IPA and OPM detail regulations, according to FWS.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of the Interior should, under IPA guidance, determine what portion of the salary and benefit costs should have been assumed by the American Fisheries Society for the assignment of the senior executive to the Society and recoup such costs from the Society.

    Agency Affected: Department of the Interior

  3. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: FWS reviewed the existing special assistant positions and decided to retain 4 of 13 positions. Two of the 4 positions have been proposed for organizational realignment.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of the Interior should instruct the Director, FWS, to review existing special assistant positions to determine whether they are necessary to accomplish the FWS mission and, if so, are defined properly.

    Agency Affected: Department of the Interior

  4. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: FWS agrees with and supports the concept of this recommendation. However, it maintains that practical considerations must be taken into account to prevent paperwork exercises that require time and resources, but may have little or no real impact.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of the Interior should instruct the Director, FWS, to ensure that the actual duties and responsibilities of the positions and approved descriptions agree.

    Agency Affected: Department of the Interior

  5. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: Regional directors were requested to look specifically into the use of these positions. They advised that the four positions still in use are necessary and will be continued.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of the Interior should instruct the Director, FWS, to determine whether the regional senior biologist positions make the best use of FWS resources.

    Agency Affected: Department of the Interior

  6. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: FWS believed the Schedule C assignments were in compliance with OPM guidance. The Director, FWS, has proposed organizational changes to the department for several Schedule C positions.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of the Interior should direct the Director, FWS, to ensure that Schedule C appointees' supervisory relationships are the same as those approved by OPM.

    Agency Affected: Department of the Interior

  7. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: The Director, FWS, has requested approval from the Department, which requested OPM approval for organizational changes to the Schedule C positions.

    Recommendation: When changes in the supervisory relationships of Schedule C appointees must be made, as required in OPM guidance, the Secretary of the Interior should instruct the Director, FWS, to request approval from OPM.

    Agency Affected: Department of the Interior

  8. Status: Closed - Not Implemented

    Comments: Evidence presented by FWS to OPM did not justify the use of limited emergency appointment authority. However, OPM did not agree with the GAO position and does not intend to take further action.

    Recommendation: The Director, OPM, should ensure that limited emergency appointment authority is used to meet agencies' bona fide, unanticipated, urgent needs for filling positions.

    Agency Affected: Office of Personnel Management

  9. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: OPM stated that it will ensure that documentation from an agency is adequate to support any granting of a limited emergency authority.

    Recommendation: The Director, OPM, should ensure that limited emergency appointments are not used to accommodate departing political appointees.

    Agency Affected: Office of Personnel Management

 

Explore the full database of GAO's Open Recommendations »

Sep 28, 2016

Sep 26, 2016

Aug 15, 2016

Jul 26, 2016

Jul 21, 2016

Jul 14, 2016

Jul 7, 2016

Looking for more? Browse all our products here