Federal Workforce:

OPM's Approach for Conducting Personnel Management Evaluations

GGD-88-11: Published: Nov 4, 1987. Publicly Released: Dec 8, 1987.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed the Office of Personnel Management's (OPM) method for evaluating federal agencies' personnel management practices, focusing on: (1) why and how OPM changed its personnel management approach; (2) whether the revised approach is consistent with OPM responsibilities under the Civil Service Reform Act of 1978; (3) the implementation status of the revised approach; and (4) agency personnel managers' perceptions of the revised and former approaches.

GAO found that the former approach: (1) relied on detailed annual case-study reviews of about 200 agencies to assess compliance with laws, rules, and regulations; (2) did not permit thorough evaluations because of insufficient staff and funds; and (3) did not necessarily provide information on the general effectiveness of personnel programs governmentwide. GAO found that the revised approach: (1) focused on the collection and review of governmentwide data to identify systemic federal personnel problems; (2) involved the compilation of computerized databases; (3) included 1- or 2-day visits, over a 5-year period, to all 4,100 agency installations with 50 or more employees; (4) discontinued two of seven components and reduced assessment visits to 3,500 installations due to insufficient staff and funds; and (5) lacked specific, uniform criteria for the assessment visits. GAO also found that, of the nine agencies it contacted, personnel managers at: (1) two agencies were satisfied with the revised approach, citing better communication with OPM, less disruption of operations, and increased numbers of installations reviewed; and (2) seven agencies expressed concern about the revised approach, citing insufficient time for adequate assessment, limited feedback, and unsubstantiated findings.

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