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Before the Subcommittee on Federal Workforce, Postal Service, and the 
District of Columbia, Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, 
House of Representatives: 

United States Government Accountability Office: 


For Release on Delivery Expected at 2:00 p.m. EDT: 

Tuesday, September 16, 2008: 

Diversity At GAO: 

Sustained Attention Needed to Build on Gains in SES and Managers: 

Statement of Frances Garcia: 

Inspector General, GAO: 

Diversity Report: 


Mr. Chairman and Members of the Subcommittee: 

I am pleased to be here today to discuss the results of my review of 
GAO's diversity programs and to participate in this hearing with the 
other legislative branch Inspectors General (IG) examining diversity at 
the top levels of five legislative branch agencies. As you know, in 
today's multicultural workforce, diversity can be an organizational 
strength that can bring a wide variety of perspectives and approaches 
to bear on policy development and implementation, strategic planning, 
and decision making. Organizations that promote and achieve a diverse 
workplace can attract and retain high-quality employees. GAO--similar 
to other federal agencies--faces both opportunities and challenges in 
increasing the diversity of its top leadership and workforce. The 
bottom line is that diversity makes good business sense. 

Because of your interest in the effectiveness of diversity program 
offices and the underrepresentation of women and minorities in 
legislative branch agencies, my testimony today addresses (1) whether 
GAO's diversity programs and initiatives are achieving better 
representation of women and minorities in the agency's Senior Executive 
Service (SES) and managerial ranks (GS-15), and their 
equivalents;[Footnote 1] (2) the accuracy and completeness of the 
fiscal year 2007 complaint and discrimination data reported to 
Congress; and (3) the independent authority and reporting relationships 
of the Managing Director of GAO's Office of Opportunity and 
Inclusiveness (OOI). As you know, my testimony today is based on a 
report requested by you and released today.[Footnote 2] 

To address our first objective, we identified and compared GAO's 
diversity management practices against those identified by the U.S. 
Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) Management Directive 715 
(MD-715)[Footnote 3] and nine expert-identified leading diversity 
management practices.[Footnote 4] In addition, we analyzed fiscal years 
2002 through 2007 data on the number of women and minorities in SES and 
managerial positions, and their equivalents. For the second objective, 
we reviewed relevant GAO orders and procedures, including those on 
processing discrimination complaints and internal controls regarding 
data quality. We also analyzed supporting documentation for the fiscal 
year 2007 complaint and discrimination data and interviewed key staff 
and managers. For the third objective, we examined GAO's organizational 
structure, policies and procedures; reviewed related reports, and 
interviewed officials in GAO's Personnel Appeals Board (PAB), OOI, and 
General Counsel. Our work did not include a detailed analysis of OOI to 
determine what, if any, effect the consolidation of two administrative 
functions (complaint processing and diversity management 
responsibilities) into one office has had. We conducted our work from 
March 2008 to September 2008 in accordance with generally accepted 
government auditing standards. Those standards require that we plan and 
perform the audit to obtain sufficient, appropriate evidence to provide 
a reasonable basis for our findings and conclusions based on our audit 
objectives. We believe that the evidence obtained provides a reasonable 
basis for our findings and conclusions based on our audit objectives. 


Between fiscal years 2002 and 2007, GAO increased the diversity of both 
its SES and managerial ranks. Moreover, GAO's SES and managers in 
fiscal year 2007 were generally more diverse in comparison with 
executive branch agencies and the civilian labor force.[Footnote 5] The 
agency's top management has made a commitment to diversity management, 
and our review showed that the agency uses a number of leading 
diversity management practices to recruit, hire, promote, and retain 
its employees. In addition, the agency has taken recent steps to 
identify and address potential barriers[Footnote 6] to the advancement 
and hiring of women, minorities, and individuals with disabilities. In 
June 2008 GAO issued its congressionally mandated Workforce Diversity 
Plan, which assessed the representation of women, minorities, and 
people with disabilities throughout the agency. GAO's diversity plan 
did identify representational gaps in the SES, the manager level in 
certain job categories, and recent applicants for the SES candidate 
program. In response, the agency is planning to target efforts on the 
areas of greatest underrepresentation, such as Hispanics,[Footnote 7] 
at all levels in the agency, and the Acting Comptroller General has 
stated his intention to have GAO prepare these plans annually. 

In reviewing GAO's March 2008 annual report to Congress and its Web 
posting of complaint and discrimination data reported for fiscal year 
2007, we found errors and could not verify the reported average number 
of days that GAO spent processing complaints. [Footnote 8] For example, 
although agency documents show that six employees filed complaints, GAO 
reported seven in its annual report. In addition, GAO inadvertently 
posted on its intranet and Web site the wrong data--which were for the 
first quarter of fiscal year 2008--as if its were for the full fiscal 
year 2007. The wrong data understated the number of complainants by 4, 
the number of complaints by 13, and the number of multiple filers by 2. 
In general, the errors were the result of inadequate procedures for 
compiling and reporting all complaints and the agency not making full 
use of its electronic complaint software. GAO's OOI has revised the 
fiscal year 2007 data posted to its Web site and plans to take steps to 
address other problems we identified. 

Although GAO is not required to comply with EEOC management directives 
to executive branch agencies, it has followed two of the three 
requirements related to independent authority and reporting 
relationships.[Footnote 9] Our work identified a concern regarding the 
consolidation of personnel-related and discrimination complaint 
functions in one office. Specifically, the PAB believes that OOI's 
Managing Director is potentially open to charges of conflict of 
interest because he is responsible for processing discrimination 
complaints and also takes an active role in diversity programs-- 
programs that could themselves could be the subject of a discrimination 
complaint. The PAB has recommended that GAO separate these two 
administrative functions and create a unit exclusively for processing 
discrimination complaints. GAO management has not agreed to implement 
this recommendation, in part because the agency believes it would 
result in an inefficient use of resources given the small number of 
formal discrimination complaints filed each year. However, the annual 
number of formal complaints only partially reflects the office's 
workload. For example, in fiscal year 2007, although GAO employees 
filed 15 formal discrimination complaints, about 130 GAO employees 
informally contacted OOI about their concerns of unfair treatment. 


As you well know, GAO performs a wide range of work. It conducts audits 
and evaluations of executive branch agencies, resolves disputes over 
awards of government contracts, and sets auditing and accounting 
standards for the federal government. To do this work, the agency has a 
highly educated, multidisciplinary workforce of around 3,100 employees 
who work in Washington, D.C., and 11 field offices. It employs 
analysts, auditors, economists, lawyers, and other professionals, and 
more than half of the workforce has master's or doctoral degrees. 

The GAO Personnel Act of 1980 gave the agency its own personnel system, 
separate from that of the executive branch, and it increased the 
agency's flexibility in hiring, paying, and managing its workforce. The 
act also created the Personnel Appeals Board (PAB), a body independent 
from GAO management, to hear GAO employee issues related to 
discrimination and prohibited personnel actions and to conduct 
oversight of Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) programs. 

In the past decade, GAO has taken steps toward diversity management, 
which aims to create and maintain a positive work environment where the 
similarities and differences of individuals are valued, so that all can 
reach their potential and maximize their contributions to an 
organization's strategic goals and objectives. In 2001, GAO created its 
Office of Opportunity and Inclusiveness (OOI) and gave the office 
responsibility for: (1) helping to create a fair and inclusive work 
environment by incorporating diversity principles in GAO's strategic 
plan and throughout its human capital policies and programs, (2) 
handling discrimination complaints, and (3) managing the agency's EEO 
activities. OOI has a total of six staff members, including the 
Managing Director. 

GAO Has Improved Diversity, and Information from Annual Diversity Plans 
Will Help to Manage Future Progress: 

GAO has made progress in building a more diverse profile of its SES and 
managerial ranks. Moreover, as shown in figure 1, GAO's leadership is 
generally more diverse in comparison with executive branch agencies and 
the civilian labor force. At the same time, gaps remain in the 
representation of women and minorities in the agency's leadership. 
GAO's June 2008 Workforce Diversity Plan[Footnote 10] has identified 
low representation of African-American women, Asian- 
Americans,[Footnote 11] Hispanics, and individuals with targeted 
disabilities[Footnote 12] among its SES and managers. The agency has a 
variety of leading diversity management practices to help reshape its 
workforce. The challenge facing GAO is to strategically manage its 
efforts to efficiently and effectively achieve greater diversity in its 
leadership. The Acting Comptroller General has stated that the agency 
intends to annually prepare a diversity plan in the spirit of EEOC's MD-
715 guidance, which will provide the agency with information essential 
to effectively and efficiently managing its diversity efforts. 

Figure 1: Comparison of Percentage of Women and Minorities in GAO's 
Senior Executive Service and at Manager Level with Executive Branch 
Agencies and Civilian Labor Force, Fiscal Year 2007: 

This figure is a combination of two vertical bar graphs showing a 
comparison of percentage of women and minorities in GAO's senior 
Executive service and at manager level with Executive branch agencies 
and Civilian labor force, fiscal year 2007. The X axis in both graphs 
represent the type of minority or gender and the Y axis represents the 
percentage. The individual bars represent GAO, Executive branch 
agencies, and Civilian labor force. 

SES and equivalents: 

GAO: 42.9; 
Executive branch agencies: 29.1; 
Civilian labor force: 45.7. 

African American; 
GAO: 11.1; 
Executive branch agencies: 8.5; 
Civilian labor force: 10.1. 

American Indian/Alaska Native; 
GAO: 0; 
Executive branch agencies: 1.3; 
Civilian labor force: 0.7. 

GAO: 4.8; 
Executive branch agencies: 2.3; 
Civilian labor force: 4.3. 

GAO: 1.6; 
Executive branch agencies: 3.6; 
Civilian labor force: 13.3. 

Mangers (GS-15 and equivalents): 

GAO: 45.6; 
Executive branch agencies: 31.4; 
Civilian labor force: 45.7. 

African American; 
GAO: 10.6; 
Executive branch agencies: 7.7; 
Civilian labor force: 10.1. 

American Indian/Alaska Native; 
GAO: 0; 
Executive branch agencies: 0.9; 
Civilian labor force: 0.7. 

GAO: 3.5; 
Executive branch agencies: 7.8; 
Civilian labor force: 4.3. 

GAO: 4.4; 
Executive branch agencies: 4.1; 
Civilian labor force: 13.3. 

[See PDF for image] 

Source: IG analysis of GAO and OPM data. 

[End of figure] 

GAO Has Made Gains in Overall Diversity and Faces Future Challenges: 

Between fiscal years 2002 and 2007, GAO increased the number of women 
in its SES from 45 to 54, or 20 percent. As a result, the proportion of 
women in the SES went from 34 percent to 43 percent. The agency had 
mixed success in increasing the number of minorities in the SES. The 
agency had a slight increase in the number of African-Americans (from 
12 to 14) but a decrease in the number of Asian-Americans (from 8 to 6) 
and Hispanics (from 4 to 2). In GAO's June 2008 Workforce Diversity 
Plan, the agency reported that the percentages of African-American and 
Asian-American females in the SES have not increased at the same rate 
as their respective percentages in the agency's overall workforce. 
Moreover, the agency reported no representation of individuals with 
targeted disabilities or American Indians/Alaska Natives in its SES. 
EEOC considers a low representational rate to be a benchmark or 
indicator of potential barriers to equal participation at all levels in 
a federal agency that requires further study. 

At the manager level during this same time, GAO steadily increased the 
numbers of women and minorities. The manager level is the developmental 
or "feeder" pool for the SES. The percentage of women managers went 
from 39 percent to 46 percent, while the increases in minority 
representation were smaller. For managers, GAO recently reported low 
percentages for Hispanic females, African-American males, and Asian- 
American females among Band III analysts. The agency also reported 
having no African-Americans, Asian-Americans, or Hispanics in certain 
manager-level administrative and professional-manager job categories. 

GAO's SES candidate program has a significant effect on the diversity 
of the SES because the agency uses it to promote many managers into the 
SES ranks. For entry into the program, the agency uses a competitive 
selection process that is open to both internal and external candidates 
at the manager level. Participation in the program lasts about 18 
months and includes special training and different work experiences to 
develop executive competencies. Upon successful completion of the 
program, candidates can gain an SES position without further 
competition. Since October 2002, women have composed 22 (or 42 percent) 
of the 52 total program participants. Minorities have composed 8 (or 15 
percent) of all of the participants, although there were no American 
Indians/Alaska Natives. In addition, the percentage of minorities in 
the classes has fluctuated--from a high of 27 percent in 1 year to a 
low of 9 percent in the September 2007 class. 

In June 2008, GAO reported that no Asian-Americans, Hispanic males, or 
African-American females applied for the September 2007 class of the 
SES candidate program. The Managing Director of OOI said that the low 
representation of minorities among recent applicants demonstrates that 
without constant vigilance, progress could be lost, even though the 
agency has generally been successful at attracting minorities to its 
SES candidate program. 

In the short term, the SES candidate program has the potential to help 
GAO obtain a larger pool of diverse candidates for the SES because it 
accepts applicants from both inside and outside the agency. In recent 
years, the agency has hired two external applicants for this program. 
According to agency officials we interviewed, past experience has shown 
that external candidates often face an additional challenge of 
assimilating into GAO's SES culture, which is steeped in audit 
methodology and practices, while at the same time they must lead staff 
who are knowledgeable about these practices and procedures. 

GAO also directly hires employees at the SES and manager level. Direct 
hiring has an effect on diversity, and in the short term, the hiring of 
women and minorities could help improve diversity at these levels. 
Between October 2002 and May 2008, GAO hired a total of 67 individuals 
at the SES and manager level. Of these, 10 (15 percent) were minority 
men and women and 21 (31 percent) were Caucasian females. 

In its EEO oversight role, PAB has recommended that GAO review its SES 
selection process, including the SES candidate program, to determine 
whether any barriers may be having a negative effect on representation. 
In response, the agency has stated that it regularly reviews the SES 
selection processes and discusses how it can attract a greater 
diversity of applications, including recruitment sources and 
advertising with special interest groups. 

GAO Uses Leading Practices, and Annual Diversity Plans Can Provide 
Essential Information for Effective Management: 

GAO has in place many of the leading diversity management practices 
identified in EEOC's MD-715 guidance for a model EEO program and in a 
GAO study of nine expert-identified leading diversity management 
practices. For example, GAO's top executives, including the current 
Acting Comptroller General and former Comptroller General, have made a 
commitment to diversity management--a best practice identified by both 
the EEOC and diversity management experts. For the past several years, 
diversity management has been a regular item on the agenda at periodic 
meetings of GAO's SES. Furthermore, GAO has taken recent action that 
will identify representational gaps and eliminate unnecessary barriers 
to hiring and advancement of women, minorities, and people with 

In accordance with these leading practices, GAO has made diversity part 
of its 5-year strategic plan, which sets out the agency's long-term 
goals and objectives.[Footnote 13] One of the agency's four strategic 
goals is to maximize the value of GAO by being a model federal agency 
and world-class professional services organization. One objective for 
this goal is to be an employer of choice with an environment that is 
fair and unbiased and that values opportunity and inclusiveness. In 
addition, GAO has incorporated diversity management in the performance 
appraisal systems for its SES and other supervisors, as well as adopted 
mediation to voluntarily resolve complaints of discrimination. 
Moreover, as part of an ongoing effort to involve employees in its 
diversity management, the agency recently created a Diversity Committee 
with representatives from all employee groups, such as Blacks In 
Government, the Advisory Council for Persons with Disabilities, the 
Asian American Liaison Group, the Gay and Lesbian Employees 
Association, the Hispanic Liaison Group, and the International 
Federation of Professional and Technical Engineers. The committee's 
members will comment on new or revised GAO policies, procedures, plans, 
and practices pertaining to diversity issues. 

While GAO has improved the diversity of its SES and managerial ranks 
and uses many leading diversity management practices, the agency has 
not had a process for developing essential information on a regular 
basis to effectively manage its diversity efforts. However, in June 
2008 GAO issued its Workforce Diversity Plan, as requested in the 
committee report for the legislative branch appropriations bill for 
fiscal year 2008.[Footnote 14] Executive branch agencies are required 
to do this plan annually. In developing its diversity plan, GAO chose 
to follow EEOC's MD-715--the same guidance executive branch agencies 
are required to use. In accordance with EEOC MD-715,[Footnote 15] GAO 
analyzed workforce data to assess demographic trends and to determine 
whether there were differences in the representation of minorities in 
the agency's workforce when compared with the appropriate benchmarks, 
such as . As a result, the agency now has baseline data on the 
diversity of its workforce. In addition, it has identified a number of 
potential barriers that may impede fair and open competition in the 
workplace. The plan also includes the GAO's 2008-2009 Workforce 
Diversity Action Plan, which lists three broad goals: (1) recruit more 
Hispanics, African-Americans, and staff with disabilities; (2) enhance 
staff-development opportunities that prepare staff for upper-level 
positions; and (3) create a more inclusive environment. While the 
action items are short-term activities, such as developing a diversity 
recruitment and hiring plan by April 2009, some could lead to long-term 
changes that affect diversity. 

Last year, the agency awarded a contract to assess the factors that may 
explain statistically significant differences in rating averages 
between African-American and Caucasian analysts from 2002 to 2006. A 
final report was issued on April 25, 2008, and it included more than 25 
recommendations. Within a week, the Acting Comptroller General issued a 
memorandum to employees expressing his commitment to address the 
report's recommendations. GAO has already undertaken steps to implement 
some of the recommendations and to establish a plan to implement other 

Fiscal Year 2007 Complaints and Discrimination Data Contained Errors: 

The No FEAR Act requires GAO to provide data on its complaints and 
discrimination cases annually in a report to Congress and to post 
updates of current fiscal year data on its Web site. In the annual 
report, we found errors in the fiscal year 2007 data for the number of 
complaints, the number of GAO employees who filed complaints, and the 
basis of the complaints (such as race, gender, and religion). We also 
could not verify the fiscal year 2007 data reported for complaint 
processing times. In addition, when GAO posted complaint data earlier 
this year on its intranet and Web site, it inadvertently published the 
wrong data for fiscal year 2007. We determined that these and other 
errors largely resulted from insufficient controls over the compilation 
and reporting of the data, including not making full use of its 
electronic complaint software. 

In its March 2008 annual report to Congress, GAO had errors in fiscal 
year 2007 complaints and discrimination data. Table 1 shows a 
comparison of correct data to data included in GAO's annual report 
regarding the number of complainants, complaints, and repeat filers-- 
those who have previously filed a complaint. 

Table 1: Comparison of Correct and Reported Complaint Data for Fiscal 
Year 2007: 

Type of data: Complainants; 
Correct data: 6; 
Data in GAO annual report: 7. 

Type of data: Complaints; 
Correct data: 15; 
Data in GAO annual report: 16. 

Type of data: Repeat filers; 
Correct data: 2; 
Data in GAO annual report: 2. 

Source: IG analysis of GAO information. 

[End of table] 

The annual report also contains errors related to the basis, or nature, 
of the complaint. For example, the annual report overstates by two the 
number of complaints based on religion, while it understates by eight 
the number of complaints based on reprisals. 

We traced the reasons for the errors in the annual report back to 
insufficient internal controls to ensure the accuracy and completeness 
of the data. For example, in developing the data, the responsible 
person did not include all of the complaints or all of the information 
about the complaints processed. Part of the problem involved complaints 
that OOI did not process because they were filed against a person 
within OOI.[Footnote 16] We found that OOI did not have procedures on 
how to track complaints processed outside of OOI or how to report on 
such complaints for purposes of the No FEAR Act. In addition, the 
agency had no written procedures regarding the development and 
verification of the data to ensure completeness and accuracy, and we 
did not find any indication in the records we reviewed that the 
person's work had been verified or reviewed by a supervisor. 

Furthermore, we could not verify the processing times for fiscal year 
2007 complaints in the annual report. We found that OOI, the unit 
responsible for developing complaint data, does not have written 
procedures for calculating and verifying the average number of days 
that complaints were in the investigation stage and awaiting final 
action by the agency. To compute these processing times, OOI staff used 
an informal process and manually did the calculations. However, we 
could not verify the calculations because the person who made the 
calculations had little experience in this area, and the records of 
their calculations were incomplete. In addition, OOI did not make full 
use of its electronic complaint tracking software, which has the 
capabilities to track and determine complaint processing times, because 
of past difficulties in using the software. GAO specifically purchased 
this software 5 years ago to improve the accuracy of its complaint 
data. In response to these findings, the agency is planning to revise 
its procedures to improve the accuracy of processing times, including 
making full use of this software. 

We also found that GAO inadvertently posted on its intranet and Web 
site the wrong data for fiscal year 2007. The posted data--which were 
for the first quarter of fiscal year 2008--were different from the 
correct data. The posted data understated the number of complainants by 
4, the number of complaints by 13, and the number of multiple filers by 
2. The posted data also included errors regarding the basis of 
complaints and the complaint processing times. 

Concerns Continue about Integration of Discrimination Complaint 
Processing and Diversity Efforts: 

To ensure the fair and impartial processing of discrimination 
complaints, EEOC's guidance on the federal sector EEO process for 
executive branch agencies has three requirements regarding the 
reporting relationship and independence of the heads of agency EEO 
offices.[Footnote 17] Although GAO is not required to follow EEOC's 
guidance, it adheres to two of the three requirements. We identified 
concerns about the agency not following the third recommendation-- 
keeping the EEO functions separate from the personnel function. PAB, in 
its EEO oversight capacity of GAO, has recommended that the agency 
create a separate unit solely to process discrimination complaints. 

EEOC's Management Directive 110, among other things, has three 
requirements for the head of agency EEO offices regarding reporting 
relationships and independence. First, to underscore the importance of 
equal employment opportunity to an agency's mission and to ensure that 
the EEO Director is able to act with the greatest degree of 
independence, it requires that the EEO Director report directly to the 
head of the agency. Second, to enhance the credibility of the EEO 
office and the integrity of the EEO complaints process, it requires 
that the EEO fact-finding function in general, and the legal 
sufficiency reviews of final agency decisions for discrimination 
complaints in particular, not be done by attorneys in a unit that 
represents or defends the agency in such disputes. Third, to maintain 
the integrity of the EEO investigative and decision-making processes, 
the guidance requires that the EEO functions, especially investigations 
and decision making, must be kept separate from the personnel function 
to avoid conflicts of position or conflicts of interest, as well as the 
appearance of such conflicts. 

We found no problems with two requirements. The OOI Managing Director 
reports directly to the Comptroller General, the head of GAO. In 
addition, the OOI Managing Director, who is an attorney, does legal 
sufficiency reviews of final agency decisions and arranges for 
independent investigations. For the small number of complaints that OOI 
staff have not directly processed, GAO's Chief Administrative Officer 
assigns a manager to act on OOI's behalf, while General Counsel assigns 
an attorney who is not in GAO's Legal Services unit to assist the 
manager. Legal Services is part of GAO's Office of General Counsel and 
serves as the agency's in-house legal counsel and represents the agency 
in legal disputes. 

PAB has reported about the potential for a real or apparent conflict of 
interest because the OOI Managing Director is responsible for 
overseeing discrimination complaints while having a substantial role in 
GAO's human capital activities, including diversity programs--which is 
a personnel function. PAB has pointed out that this situation does not 
conform to the EEOC directive, which states, "... the same agency 
official responsible for executing and advising on personnel actions 
may not also be responsible for managing, advising, or overseeing the 
EEO pre-complaint or complaint processes." An illustrative example of a 
potential area of conflict is the OOI Managing Director's role in 
reviewing employee performance ratings. He reviews selected ratings 
before they are final to identify any potential EEO concerns, and he 
then discusses his concerns with the appropriate SES official. 
Therefore, if an employee were to file a discrimination complaint 
because of a rating, the OOI Managing Director would have been involved 
in a review for potential EEO concerns and still would be responsible 
for the fair and impartial processing of the complaint. 

PAB has recommended that GAO create a separate complaint unit to 
process discrimination complaints exclusively and with no 
responsibility for personnel, or human capital, issues. GAO has stated 
that it does not believe that creation of a separate unit is warranted 
due to the small number of discrimination complaints filed each year 
and that the appearance of any conflict of interest is mitigated by GAO 
contracting out its complaint investigations. PAB continues to believe 
that a structural separation between the two administrative functions 
is warranted. The scope of our review did not include a detailed 
analysis of OOI to determine what effect, if any, the consolidation of 
these functions has had on complaint processing. 

Moreover, the small number of formal complaints does not reflect the 
office's workload, the majority of which involve informal contacts with 
the office and its efforts to resolve issues raised by GAO employees 
without the filing of a formal complaint. For example, in fiscal year 
2007, GAO employees filed 15 discrimination complaints, while about 130 
employees made informal contacts to OOI. These contacts concerned a 
range of issues, including appraisals, promotion, work assignments, 
harassment, work environment, feedback, communication, and training. 


Although GAO has made progress, the task ahead--further increasing the 
diversity of its leadership and workforce--is challenging. It will 
require a concerted effort that must be sustained over time. The small 
gains in minority representation in recent years will not be sufficient 
for achieving a more diverse leadership. 

To move forward, GAO needs to establish as part of its long-term 
approach, an annual plan that evaluates its workforce data and helps 
identify and remove unnecessary barriers to the advancement and hiring 
of women, minorities, and people with disabilities. The agency has 
taken a key step toward this end with its June 2008 Workforce Diversity 
Plan and the Acting Comptroller General's stated intention to producing 
a diversity plan annually. Because of GAO's transitional state with an 
Acting Comptroller General, we believe the agency needs to formally 
incorporate its intention into the order governing OOI's 
responsibilities. By formally adopting the MD-715 annual review and 
evaluation process, GAO will be better position to sustain attention on 
the effects of its initiatives, use the evaluations as a basis for any 
strategic improvements, and hold agency leadership accountable. 

In addition, GAO needs to improve its internal complaint processing 
procedures and the procedures related to compiling and reporting on 
those complaints. This will help to avoid recent problems and ensure 
that complaint data provided to others are accurate and reliable. 

GAO may want to monitor the situation related to its decision not to 
create a separate unit for processing discrimination complaints. Some 
of the factors that the agency considered in its original decisions 
seem to have changed, and the agency does face some risk of real or 
apparent conflicts of position or conflicts of interest. Further, the 
number of employees making informal contacts to OOI is substantial 
compared with the number of discrimination complaints. 

We have made recommendations in our report that is being released 
today, and GAO has generally agreed with these recommendations. 

Mr. Chairman, this concludes my prepared statement. I would be happy to 
respond to any questions you or other Members of the Subcommittee may 
have at this time. 

Contact and Staff Acknowledgments: 

If you have any questions about this statement, please contact me at 
(202) 512-5748 or Key contributors to this statement 
were Cathy L. Helm (Assistant Director) and Keith Steck. 

[End of section] 


[1] In GAO, SES positions and their equivalents are SES, Senior Level, 
and executive schedule positions. GAO has few actual GS-15 positions; 
their equivalents within GAO's pay systems are Band III analysts and 
specialists (Assistant Directors), Level II managerial and supervisory 
positions, Level-IV professional technical specialists, and Band III 
attorneys (equivalent to Band II Attorneys in 2002-2004). 

[2] GAO, Diversity at GAO: Sustained Attention Needed to Build on Gains 
in SES and Managers, GAO-08-1098 (Washington, D.C.: Sept. 10, 2008). 

[3] EEOC, MD-715 Section I: The Model EEO Program. 

[4] GAO, Diversity Management: Expert-Identified Leading Practices and 
Agency Examples, GAO-05-90 (Washington, D.C.: Jan. 14, 2005) 

[5] The civilian labor force is defined as those 16 and older 
(including the federal workforce), regardless of citizenship, who are 
employed or looking for work and are not in the military or 
institutionalized. A minimum age of 18 is required for most federal 

[6] EEOC defines barrier as an agency policy, principle, or practice 
that limits or tends to limit employment opportunities for a particular 
sex, race, or ethnic background, or based an individual's disability 

[7] Hispanics are underrepresented throughout the federal government 
when compared to the U.S. civilian labor force, according to OPM. 

[8] In accordance with the Notification and Federal Employee 
Antidiscrimination and Retaliation Act of 2002 (No FEAR Act), P.L. 107- 
174, GAO is required to (1) annually report information related to 
discrimination, harassment, and related matters; and (2) post quarterly 
updates of these data on its Web site. 

[9] EEOC, Equal Employment Opportunity Management Directive 110, 
Federal Sector Complaints Processing Manual (Nov. 9, 1999). 

[10] GAO, Workforce Diversity Plan (June 2008). 

[11] For purposes of our work, we are using the term, Asian-Americans 
to include employees who identify their ethnicity and race as Asian, 
Native Hawaiian, or other Pacific islander. 

[12] Targeted disabilities are deafness, blindness, missing 
extremities, partial paralysis, complete paralysis, convulsive 
disorders, mental retardation, mental illness, and distortion of limb 
and/or spine. 

[13] GAO, GAO Strategic Plan 2007-2012, GAO-07-1SP (Washington, D.C.: 
March 2007). 

[14] U.S. House of Representatives, Subcommittee on Legislative Branch, 
Committee on Appropriations, Legislative Branch Appropriations Bill, 
2008, Report 110-198 (June 19, 2007). The committee report requested an 
affirmative action plan. 

[15] EEOC, Management Directive 715 (MD-715) Section II: Barrier 
Identification and Elimination. 

[16] As set forth in GAO's discrimination complaint resolution process 
order, generally GAO employees are to file discrimination complaints 
with OOI, which processes them. For complaints filed against OOI staff 
or management, the order provides for a GAO top executive to assign 
such complaints to other GAO managers so they may process the 
complaints instead of OOI, as occurred in fiscal year 2007. 

[17] EEOC, Management Directive 110. 

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