The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) within the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has faced challenges in obtaining the workforce needed to support its responsibilities and similar to other agencies, has paid selected employees recruitment, relocation, and retention (3R) incentives. This report examines (1) the extent to which FDA is linking its use of 3R incentives to its strategic human capital approaches to address its current and emerging challenges; (2) the extent to which FDA's 3R incentives were awarded consistent with regulations and the internal controls FDA has in place to ensure proper disbursement of 3R incentives; and (3) the steps the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) has taken to help ensure that agencies have effective oversight of their 3R incentive programs and how HHS is providing oversight. GAO analyzed a stratified sample of FDA's 3R incentives files, 3R data provided by HHS, HHS's 3R policy and FDA's guidance, and interviewed HHS, FDA, and OPM senior officials.
Recommendations for Executive Action
|Food and Drug Administration||1. To better align the use of 3R incentives with the agency's human capital goals, the Commissioner of FDA should update FDA's strategic workforce plan to document the agency's recruitment and retention goals and strategies and as part of that update, identify indicators to better track the progress of 3R incentives over time in addressing the agency's recruitment and retention goals.|
|Food and Drug Administration||2. As FDA implements the results of its 2009 review of 3R incentives, the Commissioner of FDA should continue to strengthen FDA's internal controls for requesting, approving, and processing 3R incentives by updating the guidance for awarding 3R incentives to include the payment method used for retention incentives and all the conditions for terminating a retention incentive when no service agreement is required.|
|Food and Drug Administration||3. As FDA implements the results of its 2009 review of 3R incentives, the Commissioner of FDA should continue to strengthen FDA's internal controls for requesting, approving, and processing 3R incentives by ensuring 3R incentive files are properly completed and reviewed to address policy and regulatory requirements before the employees receive the incentive payments.|
|Office of Personnel Management||4. As OPM implements the results of its governmentwide 3R incentive review, the Director of OPM should require agencies to incorporate succession planning efforts into the decision process for awarding retention incentives and document this requirement for succession planning in their 3R incentive plans.|
|Department of Health and Human Services||5. To ensure the department and operating division (OPDIVs) are aware of HHS's policy in all areas of 3R incentives and use these incentives consistent with law and OPM regulations, the Secretary of HHS should revise HHS's 3R incentive policy to ensure that the guidance provided clearly addresses certain important requirements outlined in the regulations.|