GAO requests funds to beef up workforce, technology

GAO fiscal 2002 budget request

The General Accounting Office officials have asked Congress for more money to help it upgrade its systems and provide its employees the resources they need to do their jobs.

Information technology and workforce management are the top two priorities in GAO's fiscal 2002 budget request, the agency's Comptroller General David Walker told Senate appropriators this month.

GAO officials had previously recognized those areas as governmentwide problems and placed them on its high-risk list reserved for programs that are vulnerable to waste, fraud, abuse and mismanagement.

But the agency, whose sole purpose is to produce audits, reports and guides for other agencies, has been woefully underfunded the past three years making it difficult to address its own workforce and technology needs, Walker said.

GAO has been forced to pull much-needed dollars from the mission-support side of the budget to keep the agency running, said Sallyanne Harper, chief mission support officer and chief financial officer at GAO. And Congress continues to request more reports, which requires more resources and personnel.

As a result, GAO has had to defer investments intended for "what we feel are critical needs for technology to support our workforce, and also human capital needs," Harper said.

In its fiscal 2002 budget request, GAO officials want $2.6 million for "enabling technology initiatives" to increase worker productivity, including investments in video conferencing. Specific requests include:

*$405,000 to implement a virtual private network to provide a secure connection for remote users, and to upgrade the agency's network intrusion detection system.

*$850,000 for basic infrastructure upgrades, such as moving from Microsoft Corp.'s Office 97 to Office 2000.

*$750,000 to upgrade GAO's computer security facility used to conduct the increasing number of evaluations of other agencies' security.

GAO officials want $1 million for performance-based recognition and compensation programs and $400,000 for training and professional development programs.

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