Small Business Administration:

Steps Taken to Better Manage Its Human Capital, but More Needs to Be Done

T-GGD/AIMD-00-256: Published: Jul 20, 2000. Publicly Released: Jul 20, 2000.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO discussed the Small Business Administration's (SBA) efforts to identify its current and future workforce needs, budget for them and manage them strategically.

GAO noted that: (1) designing, implementing, and maintaining effective human capital strategies will be critical for agencies to maximize their performance; (2) agencies need a strategic approach to managing their human capital activities to ensure that they give the management of their most important asset--their employees--the high priority they deserve; (3) this is especially important in light of limited budgets; (4) SBA, for example, has undertaken a number of initiatives for better managing its human capital activities, including developing competency models and related training for some core functions and realigning and deploying some staff; (5) however, these initiatives were not centrally coordinated until recently, and SBA is just developing an overall plan to guide the agency's human capital efforts; (6) the human capital initiatives SBA has undertaken, while useful, are incomplete; (7) consequently, the success of the agency's attempt to redesign its business processes and transform its workforce is potentially at risk; (8) for example, the agency has not finished identifying the knowledge, skills, abilities, and other characteristics that its staff will need to perform the core functions SBA has identified as key to its new business processes; (9) in addition, SBA's lack of succession planning could endanger the leadership continuity, institutional knowledge, and expertise that are critical for the successful transformation of the agency's workforce; (10) further, a smaller percentage of SBA staff report that they have been adequately trained for their jobs than staff in the federal government generally or any other agency responding to recent surveys; (11) while GAO recognizes that SBA has plans to develop a workforce transformation plan by October 2000, the full implementation of such a plan could be several years away; and (12) sustained attention to these issues thus will be important as SBA continues to implement its new business processes and realign its human capital policies and practices to support those new processes.

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