Human Capital:

Insights for U.S. Agencies from Other Countries' Succession Planning and Management Initiatives

GAO-03-914: Published: Sep 15, 2003. Publicly Released: Oct 1, 2003.

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J. Christopher Mihm
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Office of Public Affairs
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Leading public organizations here and abroad recognize that a more strategic approach to human capital management is essential for change initiatives that are intended to transform their cultures. To that end, organizations are looking for ways to identify and develop the leaders, managers, and workforce necessary to face the array of challenges that will confront government in the 21st century. GAO conducted this study to identify how agencies in four countries--Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and the United Kingdom--are adopting a more strategic approach to managing the succession of senior executives and other public sector employees with critical skills. These agencies' experiences may provide insights to executive branch agencies as they undertake their own succession planning and management initiatives. GAO identified the examples described in this report through discussions with officials from central human capital agencies, national audit offices, and agencies in Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and the United Kingdom, and a screening survey sent to senior human capital officials at selected agencies.

Leading organizations engage in broad, integrated succession planning and management efforts that focus on strengthening both current and future organizational capacity. As part of this approach, these organizations identify, develop, and select their human capital to ensure that successors are the right people, with the right skills, at the right time for leadership and other key positions. To this end, agencies in Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and the United Kingdom are implementing succession planning and management initiatives that are designed to protect and enhance organizational capacity.

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