Human Capital: Selected Agencies' Statutory Authorities Could Offer Options in Developing a Framework for Governmentwide Reform

GAO-05-398R Published: Apr 21, 2005. Publicly Released: May 23, 2005.
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As the federal government continues its overall transformation, the centerpiece of this effort is the strategic management of human capital. Federal agencies will need the most effective human capital systems to succeed in their transformations. Congress has recently given agencies such as the National Aeronautics and Space Administration and the Departments of Homeland Security (DHS) and Defense (DOD) statutory authorities intended to help them manage their human capital strategically to achieve results. Consequently, in this environment, the federal government is quickly approaching the point where "standard governmentwide" human capital policies and processes are neither standard nor governmentwide. To help advance the discussion concerning how governmentwide human capital reform should proceed, GAO and the National Commission on the Public Service Implementation Initiative hosted a forum on whether there should be a governmentwide framework for human capital reform and, if so, what this framework should include. While there were divergent views among the forum participants, there was general agreement on a set of principles, criteria, and processes that would serve as a starting point for further discussion in developing a governmentwide framework to advance needed human capital reform. Specifically, they include principles that the government should retain in a framework for reform because of their inherent, enduring qualities, such as certain prohibited personnel practices; criteria that agencies should have in place as they plan for and manage their new human capital authorities, such as adequate resources for planning, implementation, training, and evaluation; and processes that agencies should follow as they implement new human capital authorities, such as involving employees and stakeholders in the design and implementation of new human capital systems. Building on this framework, we were asked to provide information on the statutory human capital authorities that Congress has already provided to various federal agencies.

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