People are critical to any agency transformation, such as the one envisioned for the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). They define an agency's culture, develop its knowledge base, and are its most important asset. Thus, strategic human capital management at DHS can help it marshal, manage, and maintain the people and skills needed to meet its critical mission. Congress provided DHS with significant flexibility to design a modern human capital management system. DHS and the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) have now jointly released the final regulations on DHS's new human capital system. Last year, with the release of the proposed regulations, GAO observed that many of the basic principles underlying the regulations were consistent with proven approaches to strategic human capital management and deserved serious consideration. However, some parts of the human capital system raised questions for DHS, OPM, and Congress to consider in the areas of pay and performance management, adverse actions and appeals, and labor management relations. GAO also identified multiple implementation challenges for DHS once the final regulations for the new system were issued. This testimony provides overall observations on DHS's intended human capital system and selected provisions of the final regulations.
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