Federal Employment:

Displaced Federal Workers Can Be Helped by Expanding Existing Programs

GGD-92-86: Published: May 5, 1992. Publicly Released: May 5, 1992.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO provided information on: (1) Department of Defense (DOD) and Office of Personnel Management (OPM) job placement programs; and (2) Department of Labor (DOL) job retraining assistance.

GAO found that: (1) in fiscal year (FY) 1991, neither DOD nor OPM placed a high proportion of registrants in new jobs; (2) since the demand for placement services is expected to dramatically increase due to the projected loss of 229,000 civilian positions through FY 1992, DOD and OPM are reviewing their placement programs to identify possible improvements; (3) linking and expanding existing federal job opening and job seeker databases would provide displaced workers with a more comprehensive listing of available federal job openings and employers with a more comprehensive listing of displaced employees seeking work; (4) expanding and matching the databases would cost about $2.2 million; (5) since states interpret eligible dislocated workers differently, displaced workers face significantly different eligibility standards for federally funded job retraining; and (6) DOL is attempting to resolve differing eligibility interpretations in order to minimize the adverse impact of base closures on civilian employees.

Status Legend:

More Info
  • Review Pending-GAO has not yet assessed implementation status.
  • Open-Actions to satisfy the intent of the recommendation have not been taken or are being planned, or actions that partially satisfy the intent of the recommendation have been taken.
  • Closed-implemented-Actions that satisfy the intent of the recommendation have been taken.
  • Closed-not implemented-While the intent of the recommendation has not been satisfied, time or circumstances have rendered the recommendation invalid.
    • Review Pending
    • Open
    • Closed - implemented
    • Closed - not implemented

    Recommendations for Executive Action

    Recommendation: To better respond to displaced workers' needs for timely assistance, the Director, OPM, should expand the Federal Job Opportunities Listing to include all federal job openings for which displaced employees could qualify.

    Agency Affected: Office of Personnel Management

    Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: OPM expanded the federal job listing to include merit promotion vacancies for which agencies will accept applications from outside their agencies. This has resulted in about 1,300 additional positions on the listing at any given time.

    Recommendation: To better respond to displaced workers' needs for timely assistance, the Director, OPM, should expand the Defense Outplacement Referral System to include workers who are being displaced by civilian agencies.

    Agency Affected: Office of Personnel Management

    Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: OPM agrees that expanded referral services should be available to all displaced employees, not just DOD employees. However, as a result of an OPM career transition study, the Interagency Advisory Group of Executive Branch Personnel Directors established a work group to develop a career transition program. On September 12, 1995, the President directed agency heads to provide improved career transition assistance to their displaced employees. OPM is leading an interagency team to develop regulations and more detailed guidance on how the provisions of the directive are to be implemented.

    Recommendation: To better respond to displaced workers' needs for timely assistance, the Director, OPM, should develop a computer program for matching job seekers with job vacancies on a periodic basis or when job seekers and job vacancies are added to the respective databases.

    Agency Affected: Office of Personnel Management

    Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: OPM believes that agencies should perform the actual matching. However, since it sees its role as providing agencies with lists of displaced employees who meet the agencies' general job requirements, GAO believes that the OPM response is adequate given its limited resources to implement a computer matching program.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Labor should decide as soon as possible whether displaced workers may receive job training as authorized by the Economic Dislocation and Worker Adjustment Assistance Act before they receive a specific notice of job termination.

    Agency Affected: Department of Labor

    Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: Labor established conditions under which displaced workers may receive job retraining before they receive a specific separation notice.

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