The Changing Workforce:

Comparison of Federal and Nonfederal Work/Family Programs and Approaches

GGD-92-84: Published: Apr 23, 1992. Publicly Released: Apr 23, 1992.

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GAO: (1) provided information on the programs and policies selected nonfederal employers use to help their employees balance work and family responsibilities; and (2) compared federal and nonfederal efforts in this area.

GAO found that: (1) nonfederal organizations offer their employees a variety of work/family programs, including flexible work arrangements, flexible leave policies, child and elder care programs, and other programs; (2) such factors as employee input, recruitment, and retention goals led the organizations reviewed to adopt work/family programs; (3) the organizations stressed the importance of conducting needs assessments, effectively communicating the programs within and outside the organization, and recognizing concerns about equal treatment of employees; (4) the organizations believe that the programs have aided their recruitment and retention efforts and improved employee productivity; (5) the federal government lacks a comprehensive work/family strategy; (6) although the federal government offers many of the work/family programs that nonfederal organizations offer, the federal government does not utilize the programs as extensively as it could; and (7) barriers to federal work/family initiatives include cost, a lack of statutory or regulatory authority, and concerns that such programs are inappropriate for federal employees.

Recommendation for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: OPM established a Work and Family Program Center and formed an interagency partnership on work and family to strengthen the government's ability to address work and family issues and plan for the future. The Center's primary focus has been dependent care issues. It collected information on current federal work and family programs and serves as a clearinghouse for that information. OPM subsequently reviewed governmentwide work and family policies and determined that most agencies already had the flexibility to operate the programs they needed. OPM said that it was concentrating on educating agencies about the programs and how to use them. Since the President's July 1994 memorandum, which directs agencies to expand family friendly work arrangements, OPM and GSA are working with agencies to eliminate barriers to the President's directive.

    Recommendation: The Director of the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) should ensure that OPM will play a stronger leadership role in dealing with federal sector work/family issues. Specifically, OPM should: (1) approach work/family-related programs strategically, emphasizing to federal agencies and managers their potential importance to workforce planning, recruitment, retention, and productivity enhancement; (2) review and if necessary, revise governmentwide work/family programs; and (3) help federal agencies as they review work/family programs under their control.

    Agency Affected: Office of Personnel Management


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