Posthearing Questions Related to Strategic Human Capital Management

GAO-03-779R: Published: May 22, 2003. Publicly Released: May 22, 2003.

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J. Christopher Mihm
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On April 8, GAO testified before the Subcommittee on Civil Service and Agency Reform, House Committee on Government Reform and the Subcommittee on Oversight of Government Management, the Federal Workforce, and the District of Columbia, Senate Committee on Governmental Affairs at a hearing on "The Human Capital Challenge: Offering Solutions and Delivering Results". This letter responds to requests from Chairman Voinovich, Chairwoman Davis, and Senator Carper that we provide answers to follow-up questions from the hearing.

GAO found that there are a variety of options that should be considered in easing the wave of retirements due to hit the Federal Government in the coming years; however, they all require further analysis to ensure their cost effectiveness. GAO discussed its own successes in this area and showed that it has been consistent with the practices of leading organization. Further, GAO outlined its plan for a creation of nonpolitical chief operating officers in federal agencies to assist in the transition efforts. Further, GAO discussed the critical importance of training programs to retain workers and improve the performance of the federal workforce. GAO then told the Committees of its own experience with the new competency-based performance management system. GAO also pointed out areas where the executive branch agencies could strengthen to create incentives for progress in this issue. GAO pointed out that the Office of Personnel Management taking a leadership role is critical to this process. There is also a need for legislation to reform the problems currently present in human capital issue facing the federal government. Congress should have a central role in ensuring that agencies human capital plans are integrated with program missions and goals. GAO stated that this process of reform could be effective government-wide or on an agency by agency basis. The Homeland Security Act and the streamlined hiring process it allows is an important tool for agencies to address their hiring and other human capital needs. Also at Congressional request, GAO outlined a list of safeguards to ensure that any pay for performance system in the government is fair, effective, and credible. Lastly, GAO stated that employees themselves either directly or indirectly involved in this process will be crucial to the success of these proposed initiatives.

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