Office of Personnel Management:

Opportunities Exist to Build on Recent Progress in Internal Human Capital Capacity

GAO-08-11: Published: Oct 31, 2007. Publicly Released: Oct 31, 2007.

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Given the importance of the Office of Personnel Management's (OPM) role in managing the nation's federal workforce, GAO assessed OPM's internal capacity for human capital management. This report--the third in the series--extends prior work and (1) looks at the extent to which OPM has addressed key internal human capital management issues identified by examining employee responses to the 2004 and 2006 Federal Human Capital Survey (FHCS) and (2) has strategies in place to ensure it has the mission critical talent it needs to meet current and future strategic goals. To address our objectives, GAO analyzed 2004 and 2006 FHCS results, summaries of OPM employee focus groups, and analyzed OPM strategic and human capital planning documents.

OPM has taken positive actions to address specific concerns raised by employees and managers in the 2004 and 2006 FHCS responses. OPM conducted employee focus groups to understand factors contributing to the low 2004 survey scores and took actions, such as trying to improve communication throughout the agency. The 2006 survey results showed improvement in the area of leadership, with mixed results in the performance culture and accountability area, and continued concern in the talent management area. Without the responses from the investigative service employees who transferred from the Department of Defense in early 2005, OPM's 2006 FHCS results would have been, in many cases, significantly more positive than in 2004. The perceptions of the investigative service employees, however, will need continued attention. OPM has strategies in place, such as workforce and succession management plans, that are aligned with selected leading practices relevant to the agency's capacity to fulfill its strategic goals. For example, OPM's top leadership is involved in these efforts, and the agency has assessed gaps in numbers and competencies and created gap closure plans for its mission critical and leadership workforce. OPM lacks, however, a well-documented agencywide evaluation process of some of its workforce planning efforts. In particular, OPM's implementation of division-level training plans could make it difficult for the agency to identify and address reasons for shortfalls in meeting its talent management goals. In a relatively short time, there will also be a Presidential transition, and well-documented processes can help to ensure a seamless transition that builds on the current momentum.

Recommendation for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: The Office of Personnel Management (OPM) reported in April 2010 that it had instituted a process for OPM's top leadership to monitor workforce and succession efforts. For example, OPM now collects and reviews training data to inform strategic investment decisions. Under the direction of the Chief Human Capital Officer, OPM reviews the data gathered to ensure a linkage between training expenditures and priority needs. In addition, OPM has a standard operating procedure for collecting and analyzing succession planning data from employee profile sheets.

    Recommendation: To help OPM continue down its path of improvement with regard to internal capacity for strategic human capital management, the Director of OPM should institute a documented process for OPM's top leadership to monitor workforce and succession efforts carried out at the division level, to help ensure an agencywide perspective on workforce and succession funding, implementation, and evaluation. For example, OPM could document and report on how training and development budget requests are reviewed by agency's corporate leaders--such as the Chief Human Capital Officer or other decision makers in a position to identify the appropriate level of investment in training and development efforts across divisions--so that funding is prioritized according to the greatest needs relative to the agency's overall mission and objectives.

    Agency Affected: Office of Personnel Management


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