Whether federal workers are responding to natural disasters, preventing widespread epidemics, maintaining our national parks, or exploring the vast unknowns of deep space, the American people expect that they will get the job done right. Public Service Recognition Week has been celebrated in the first week of May every year since 1985, honoring federal workers’ competence and dedication. We at GAO are in the unique position of looking across the broad landscape of the federal workforce to see how it develops as its responsibilities become increasingly complex. Here are a few examples (from a 2012 Comptroller General testimony) of the progress we have seen in four key areas of human capital management.
- Leadership Commitment: The Office of Personnel Management has demonstrated leadership by, among other efforts, working to streamline the hiring process. Congress has passed various authorities and flexibilities to better manage the federal workforce. Collectively, these efforts could make it easier and faster for people to apply for federal jobs and strengthen agencies’ ability to compete with the private sector when filling entry-level positions.
- Strategic Workforce Planning: Effective human capital planning helps agencies ensure that the right people and skill sets are in the right places at the right times to get the job done. In 2011, the Department of State published a strategic plan to improve its foreign language capabilities, linking efforts to improve its recruitment program and expand training.
- Talent Management: Agencies must retain personnel with the skills needed to meet their vital missions. We reported in 2010 that recruitment, relocation, and retention incentives were widely used by agencies.
- Building a Results-Oriented Culture: Leading organizations have found that to successfully transform themselves, they must often fundamentally change their cultures. For example, the performance-based pay system for members of the Senior Executive Service is an important step in government-wide transformation.
Federal strategic human capital management issues remain on our High Risk list, and we assessed these issues in our most recent High Risk report. In addition, our key issues page on strategic human capital management summarizes some of our major findings and includes links to our reports on progress and challenges to the federal workforce.