U.S. Department of Agriculture:

Need for Improved Workforce Planning

RCED-90-97: Published: Mar 6, 1990. Publicly Released: Mar 6, 1990.

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GAO reviewed the Department of Agriculture's (USDA) personnel management, focusing on the effectiveness of its workforce planning efforts.

GAO found that: (1) USDA was experiencing problems in recruiting, training, and managing its personnel, primarily because it lacked an effective strategy for determining and meeting workforce needs; (2) USDA needed a departmental recruiting program to avoid intra-agency competition for the same personnel and to improve general awareness of USDA as an employer; (3) USDA needed to focus its recruitment efforts on employees with marketing management backgrounds to address agriculture's emergence as a consumer-driven economy; (4) inadequate employee and supervisory training was responsible for many existing operational problems within USDA; (5) USDA was well behind most other federal agencies in affirmative action efforts; (6) most USDA agencies were developing personnel systems that were not comprehensive and did not address long-term needs; and (7) USDA policymakers were not taking the lead in developing workforce planning guidance and initiating a system for monitoring individual agencies' planning systems to ensure departmentwide compatibility.

Recommendations for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: In March 1993, the Secretary of Agriculture issued a policy that: (1) establishes a mandatory foundation for workforce planning; and (2) ensures that workforce planning is integrated with workforce diversity planning and accomplishments.

    Recommendation: To assist agencies in building a quality workforce to meet current and future challenges, the Secretary of Agriculture should make workforce planning a mandatory agency activity.

    Agency Affected: Department of Agriculture

  2. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: On October 13, 1994, the Department of Agriculture Reorganization Act of 1994 was signed into law. USDA has begun its 5-year effort to implement the act and reorganize and streamline the department. USDA expects to reduce its staff by 13,000 by 1999.

    Recommendation: To assist agencies in building a quality workforce to meet current and future challenges, the Secretary of Agriculture should develop workforce planning guidelines to, at a minimum, include the elements described in this letter to ensure that agency-level plans are well developed and provide consistent and uniform agencywide data.

    Agency Affected: Department of Agriculture

  3. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: On October 13, 1994, the Department of Agriculture Reorganization Act of 1994 was signed into law. USDA has begun its 5-year effort to implement the act and reorganize and streamline the department. USDA expects to reduce its staff by 13,000 by 1999.

    Recommendation: To assist agencies in building a quality workforce to meet current and future challenges, the Secretary of Agriculture should identify resources within the Office of Personnel to develop a workforce planning framework and to carry out monitoring activities.

    Agency Affected: Department of Agriculture

 

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