Estimates of Federal Employees' Available Time for Work Distort Work Force Requirements

FPCD-78-21: Published: Mar 6, 1978. Publicly Released: Mar 6, 1978.

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For many years, considerable attention has been paid to estimating overall work in determining the Federal Government's civilian personnel requirements. However, little attention has been paid to the availability of the work force--the portion of time that workers are available to perform their primary duties after deducting the time they are unavailable because of absence. Eight Federal agencies were surveyed to determine the reliability of the processes and data used to estimate the availability of Federal civilian workers.

The Office of Management and Budget has not provided guidance on how to estimate worker availability in computing personnel requirements. Estimates are often inconsistent and are based on old, incomplete, and unsupported data. The eight agencies surveyed differed in the absences they recognize in estimating availability: two account for annual leave earned rather than that taken, two do not account for administrative or other leave, and one does not account for training. Requirements may be either overstated or understated due to the lack of consistent, current, and reliable availability estimates. While the total number of workers estimated may not be understated or overstated, they may not be properly distributed if variances in availability among groups of workers within the agency are not accounted for.

Recommendation for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed

    Comments: Please call 202/512-6100 for additional information.

    Recommendation: The Office of Management and Budget should provide guidance to agencies for estimating the availability of workers. Circular A-11 could be expanded to: provide a definition of availability; require agencies to validate or adjust their estimates annually; require that agencies document and retain supporting data used to estimate availability in order to justify personnel requirements; and require that availability be analyzed by organization, location, or function and that any significant differences be recognized in estimating personnel requirements and distributing the work force.

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