Retrenchment and Redirection at the Office of Personnel Management

GGD-83-95: Published: Aug 22, 1983. Publicly Released: Aug 29, 1983.

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In response to a congressional request, GAO reported on the retrenchment and redirection that took place at the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) between March 1981 and December 1982 in response to fiscal year (FY) 1982 budgetary reductions in executive nondefense agencies.

The OPM 1982 salaries and expenses appropriation was reduced 16 percent below the approved 1981 level; however, the trust and revolving funds which OPM administers were not directly affected by the reduction. OPM began a redirection of priorities and resources in 1981, before the budget cuts were instituted, and decided to offer less advisory personnel management assistance to federal agencies and to terminate some programs. Faced with anticipated budget cuts, OPM reduced its staffing levels through attrition and a reduction in force; reduced spending via employee furloughs; reduced travel, purchases, and rent expenditures; and reorganized its central and field office structures and reassigned many of its personnel. While these actions were within the administrative authority of OPM, they were unsettling for OPM employees. OPM still performs most of the oversight functions as it did before, but the resources devoted to oversight have been reduced and federal agencies cannot rely on OPM for as much assistance as in previous years. However, the overall effects of the reduction are not measurable. Many governmentwide personnel problems still exist, particularly with the Civil Service Reform Act initiatives, and OPM leadership is needed to resolve them.

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