GAO stresses human factor

Without the proper tools to assess, attract, train and manage the federal

work force, "human capital systems" likely will earn the General Accounting

Office's high-risk designation in 2001, U.S. Comptroller General David Walker

told a Senate subcommittee Thursday.

Serious concerns are emerging about the aging of the federal work force,

the rise in retirement eligibilities and the actions needed to ensure effective

succession planning, Walker said in testimony before the Senate Governmental

Affairs Committee's Oversight of Government Management, Restructuring and

the District of Columbia Subcommittee.

Three keys to performance are process, technology and people, Walker

said. Legislation has addressed process with the Government Performance

and Results Act and technology with the Paperwork Reduction Act and Clinger-Cohen

Act. But the people dimension has not been addressed, Walker said.

"People will be the key to obtaining and maintaining competitive advantage

in any enterprise," Walker said.

GAO is specifically concerned with the lack of information technology

skills in government. "One of the principal strategies that agencies have

used to deliver services with fewer staff has been an increased reliance

on information technology," Walker said in written testimony. "However,

the agencies' ability to make the most of this strategy could be jeopardized

by the competitive disadvantage they report facing in hiring and retaining

skilled information technology staff."

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