Personnel Restrictions and Cutbacks in Executive Agencies:

Need for Caution

FPCD-77-85: Published: Feb 9, 1978. Publicly Released: Feb 9, 1978.

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For the Federal Government to be effecive, its programs and activities must be effectively implemented. Sound implementation can be weakened by too many employees, resulting in costly nonproductivity, or by too few, resulting in an unmanageable workload. Over the past several years, GAO has issued many reports illustrating the problems caused by insufficient staff. These problems, affecting a wide range of Government programs, include work backlogs, ineffective implementation of legislative mandates, excessive use of overtime and consultants, and, in several cases, criminal abuses.

Staff shortages are sometimes the result of agency mismanagement. However, some programs are inadequately staffed for reasons over which the agency has little or no control. Insufficient funding can prevent an agency from hiring the employees it needs, and personnel ceilings can have similar restrictive effects. Mechanisms for controlling personnel resources are needed; however, other elements such as travel, equipment, working space, and supplies must also be carefully analyzed for their effect on program management.

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