Human Capital: Federal Workforce Challenges in the 21st Century Page: 2 of 15
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Highlights of GAO-07-556T, a testimony
before the Subcommittee on Financial
Services and General Government,
Committee on Appropriations, House of
Why GAO Did This Study
The federal government is facing
new and more complex challenges
in the 21st century because of long-
term fiscal constraints, changing
governance models, and other
factors. Strategic human capital
management, which remains on
GAO's high-risk list, must be the
centerpiece of any serious change
management and transformation
effort to meet these challenges.
However, federal agencies do not
consistently have the modern,
effective, economical, and efficient
human capital programs, policies,
and procedures needed to succeed
in their transformation efforts. In
addition, the Office of Personnel
Management (OPM) must have the
capacity to successfully guide
human capital transformations.
This testimony, based on a large
body of GAO work over many
years, focuses on strategic human
capital management challenges
that many federal agencies
continue to face.
This testimony underscores
recommendations made to OPM in
January 2007 to improve its
capacity for future reforms. OPM
has said it has made progress
toward achieving its operational
and strategic goals. In addition, this
testimony serves as a guide to
Congress as it scrutinizes agencies'
transformation plans, capabilities,
and measurable results to make
informed funding decisions during
a period of likely sustained budget
To view the full product, including the scope
and methodology, click on the link above.
For more information, contact J. Christopher
Mihm at (202) 512-6806 or email@example.com.
Federal Workforce Challenges in the 21st
What GAO Found
Federal agencies continue to face strategic human capital challenges in:
Leadership: Top leadership in agencies across the federal government must
provide committed and inspired attention needed to address human capital
and related organizational transformation issues. However, slightly less than
half of respondents to the 2006 Federal Human Capital Survey reported a
high level of respect for senior leaders while only 38 percent agreed or
strongly agreed that leaders in their organizations generate high levels of
motivation and commitment in the workforce.
Strategic Human Capital Planning: Strategic human capital planning that
is integrated with broader organizational strategic planning is critical to
ensuring agencies have the talent they need for future challenges, especially
as the federal government faces a retirement wave. Too often, agencies do
not have the components of strategic human capital planning needed to
address their current and emerging human capital challenges.
Acquiring, Developing, and Retaining Talent: Faced with a workforce
that is becoming more retirement eligible and finding gaps in talent, agencies
need to strengthen their efforts and use of available flexibilities to acquire,
develop, motivate, and retain talent. Agencies are not uniformly using
available flexibilities to recruit and hire top talent and to address the current
and emerging demographic challenges facing the government.
Results-Oriented Organizational Culture: Leading organizations create a
clear linkage-"line of sight"-between individual performance and
organizational success and, thus, transform their cultures to be more results-
oriented, customer-focused, and collaborative. However, in many cases, the
federal government does not have these linkages and has not transformed
how it classifies, compensates, develops, and motivates its employees to
achieve maximum results within available resources and existing authorities.
Agencies are facing strategic human capital challenges in a period of likely
sustained budget constraints. Budget constraints will require agencies to
plan their transformations more strategically, prioritize their needs, evaluate
results, allocate their resources more carefully, and react to workforce
challenges more expeditiously in order to achieve their missions
economically, efficiently, and effectively.
OPM will continue to play a key role in fostering and guiding strategic
human capital management improvements in the executive branch and in
helping agencies meet transformation challenges. Although making
commendable efforts in transforming itself to more a consultant, toolmaker,
and strategic partner in leading and supporting agencies' human capital
management systems, OPM has itself faced challenges in its capacity to
assist, guide, and certify agencies' readiness to implement reforms.
United States Government Accountability Office
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United States. Government Accountability Office. Human Capital: Federal Workforce Challenges in the 21st Century, text, March 6, 2007; Washington D.C.. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc292501/m1/2/: accessed January 16, 2019), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.