Lessons Can Be Learned From Corrections' Reduction in Force Resulting From Budget Cutbacks

GGD-83-22: Published: Mar 9, 1983. Publicly Released: Mar 9, 1983.

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GAO reported on its review of the impact on the District of Columbia Department of Corrections of reduction in force (RIF) and budget cutbacks.

Although Corrections officials had forecast major problems in agency operations, including institutional security, as a result of the cuts, GAO found that Corrections adequately coped with the situation when the RIF was implemented. The loss and shortage of correctional officers, program personnel, equipment, and supplies disrupted operations for a while, but Corrections made the necessary adjustments over several months. However, when the hiring freeze was lifted, security staff shortages continued for more than a year because of unresolved problems between Corrections and the D.C. Office of Personnel. Corrections officials stated that there was an extraordinary slowness in the processing of personnel papers in the Office of Personnel, despite the fact that there were sufficient applicants and sufficient funds to pay them. GAO believes that the worst effect of the RIF and budget cut-backs was the lowering of staff morale. The damage was magnified because of: (1) the length of time between first knowledge of the RIF and the final listing of the individuals affected; (2) frequent changes in the number of those who would be affected; and (3) the lack of clear and reliable information available to the employees. GAO also found that Corrections and the Office of Personnel did little to help the separated correctional officers find other correctional jobs.

Recommendations for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: The Mayor agreed with the recommendation but indicated that the District was planning no further RIF's.

    Recommendation: The Mayor should require the Department of Corrections and the D.C. Office of Personnel to jointly develop a plan to deal with circumstances when the likelihood of a RIF arises. The plan should provide for: (1) improving communications with employees likely to be affected by making better use of existing information channels, such as the Department's monthly newsletter, to inform staff of administrative decisions that affect them, particularly when job security, career advancement, or similar vital issues are involved; (2) frequent written communications to explain changing circumstances as quickly and completely as possible; and (3) developing special programs to provide training, counseling, and assistance to help employees who are affected by budgetary cutbacks.

    Agency Affected: District of Columbia

  2. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: The Mayor's office stated that the District was planning no further RIF's.

    Recommendation: The Mayor should require the D.C. Office of Personnel to consider whether plans for other departments within the D.C. Government should be developed.

    Agency Affected: District of Columbia


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