Information Technology:

Agencies Need to Fully Implement Key Workforce Planning Activities

GAO-20-129: Published: Oct 30, 2019. Publicly Released: Oct 30, 2019.

Additional Materials:

Contact:

Carol C. Harris
(202) 512-4456
HarrisCC@gao.gov

 

Office of Public Affairs
(202) 512-4800
youngc1@gao.gov

Identifying skill gaps and staffing needs is key to addressing the federal government’s IT workforce challenges.

We evaluated how major executive agencies implemented the 8 IT workforce planning practices in our framework, like recognizing key skills employees will need and planning for them.

Agencies made the most progress with 3 practices, including assessing gaps in skills and staffing.

We recommended that three-quarters of the agencies fully implement the practices to anticipate and respond to changing staffing needs and to control risks with critical IT systems. We made the same recommendation to the remaining agencies in 2016 and 2018.

Federal agencies need to identify skill gaps within their workforce to anticipate and respond to changing needs and critical risks.

A man looking at a computer screen.

A man looking at a computer screen.

Additional Materials:

Contact:

Carol C. Harris
(202) 512-4456
HarrisCC@gao.gov

 

Office of Public Affairs
(202) 512-4800
youngc1@gao.gov

What GAO Found

Federal agencies varied widely in their efforts to implement key information technology (IT) workforce planning activities that are critical to ensuring that agencies have the staff they need to support their missions. Specifically, at least 23 of the 24 agencies GAO reviewed partially implemented, substantially implemented, or fully implemented three activities, including assessing gaps in competencies and staffing. However, most agencies minimally implemented or did not implement five other workforce planning activities (see figure).

Agencies’ Overall Implementation of the Key Information Technology (IT) Workforce Planning Activities

Agencies provided various reasons for their limited progress in implementing workforce planning activities, including competing priorities (six agencies), and limited resources (three agencies). Until agencies make it a priority to fully implement all key IT workforce planning activities, they will likely have difficulty anticipating and responding to changing staffing needs and controlling human capital risks when developing, implementing, and operating critical IT systems.

Why GAO Did This Study

The federal government annually spends over $90 billion on IT. Despite this large investment, projects too frequently fail or incur cost overruns and schedule slippages while contributing little to mission-related outcomes. Effectively implementing workforce planning activities can facilitate the success of major acquisitions.

GAO was asked to conduct a government-wide review of IT workforce planning. The objective was to determine the extent to which federal agencies effectively implemented IT workforce planning practices. To do so, GAO compared IT workforce policies and related documentation from each of the 24 Chief Financial Officers Act of 1990 agencies to activities from an IT workforce planning framework GAO issued. GAO rated each agency as having fully, substantially, partially, minimally, or not implemented for each activity. GAO supplemented its reviews of agency documentation by interviewing agency officials.

What GAO Recommends

GAO is making recommendations to 18 of the 24 federal agencies to fully implement the eight key IT workforce planning activities. Of the 18 agencies, 13 agreed with the recommendations, one partially agreed, three neither agreed nor disagreed, and one disagreed with the findings and provided evidence which led to a modification to its recommendation, as discussed in this report. For all of the remaining recommendations, GAO continues to believe that they are all warranted.

For more information, contact Carol C. Harris at (202) 512-4456 or HarrisCC@gao.gov.

Recommendations for Executive Action

  1. Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Agriculture should ensure that the agency fully implements each of the eight key IT workforce planning activities it did not fully implement. (Recommendation 1)

    Agency Affected: Department of Agriculture

  2. Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Education should ensure that the agency fully implements each of the seven key IT workforce planning activities it did not fully implement. (Recommendation 2)

    Agency Affected: Department of Education

  3. Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Energy should ensure that the agency fully implements each of the eight key IT workforce planning activities it did not fully implement. (Recommendation 3)

    Agency Affected: Department of Energy

  4. Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Homeland Security should ensure that the agency fully implements each of the eight key IT workforce planning activities it did not fully implement. (Recommendation 4)

    Agency Affected: Department of Homeland Security

  5. Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Housing and Urban Development should ensure that the agency fully implements each of the seven key IT workforce planning activities it did not fully implement. (Recommendation 5)

    Agency Affected: Department of Housing and Urban Development

  6. Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of the Interior should ensure that the agency fully implements each of the eight key IT workforce planning activities it did not fully implement. (Recommendation 6)

    Agency Affected: Department of the Interior

  7. Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.

    Recommendation: The Attorney General should ensure that the agency fully implements each of the eight key IT workforce planning activities it did not fully implement. (Recommendation 7)

    Agency Affected: Department of Justice

  8. Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Labor should ensure that the agency fully implements each of the eight key IT workforce planning activities it did not fully implement. (Recommendation 8)

    Agency Affected: Department of Labor

  9. Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of State should ensure that the agency fully implements each of the seven key IT workforce planning activities it did not fully implement. (Recommendation 9)

    Agency Affected: Department of State

  10. Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Veterans Affairs should ensure that the agency fully implements each of the five key IT workforce planning activities it did not fully implement. (Recommendation 10)

    Agency Affected: Department of Veterans Affairs

  11. Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.

    Recommendation: The Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency should ensure that the agency fully implements each of the eight key IT workforce planning activities it did not fully implement. (Recommendation 11)

    Agency Affected: Environmental Protection Agency

  12. Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.

    Recommendation: The Administrator of the General Services Administration should ensure that the agency fully implements each of the seven key IT workforce planning activities it did not fully implement. (Recommendation 12)

    Agency Affected: General Services Administration

  13. Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.

    Recommendation: The Director of the National Science Foundation should ensure that the agency fully implements each of the eight key IT workforce planning activities it did not fully implement. (Recommendation 13)

    Agency Affected: National Science Foundation

  14. Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.

    Recommendation: The Chairman of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission should ensure that the agency fully implements each of the seven key IT workforce planning activities it did not fully implement. (Recommendation 14)

    Agency Affected: Nuclear Regulatory Commission

  15. Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.

    Recommendation: The Director of the Office of Personnel Management should ensure that the agency fully implements each of the eight key IT workforce planning activities it did not fully implement. (Recommendation 15)

    Agency Affected: Office of Personnel Management

  16. Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.

    Recommendation: The Administrator of the Small Business Administration should ensure that the agency fully implements each of the seven key IT workforce planning activities it did not fully implement. (Recommendation 16)

    Agency Affected: Small Business Administration

  17. Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.

    Recommendation: The Commissioner of the Social Security Administration should ensure that the agency fully implements each of the five key IT workforce planning activities it did not fully implement. (Recommendation 17)

    Agency Affected: Social Security Administration

  18. Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.

    Recommendation: The Administrator of the U.S. Agency for International Development should ensure that the agency fully implements each of the seven key IT workforce planning activities it did not fully implement. (Recommendation 18)

    Agency Affected: United States Agency for International Development

 

Explore the full database of GAO's Open Recommendations »

Sep 10, 2019

Jun 26, 2019

Jun 11, 2019

May 6, 2019

Apr 29, 2019

Apr 11, 2019

Apr 9, 2019

Dec 13, 2018

Dec 12, 2018

Dec 11, 2018

Looking for more? Browse all our products here