GAO asked to assess staffing

GAO fiscal 2002 budget request

The General Accounting Office may get the money it needs to hire enough people to fully focus on such critical review areas as computer security, but only if the agency satisfies Senate concerns that the jobs could not be better performed by the private sector.

The Senate Appropriations Committee plans to raise GAO's funding in fiscal 2002 by more than $35 million—a 9 percent increase over the current year but less than the president's request.

Most of that money will go to bringing staffing levels to the agency's ceiling of 3,275 full-time employees for the first time in two years, including additional staff in areas such as computer security, according to the committee's July 12 report.

However, the senators want some assurances first.

In testimony May 10 before the Senate Appropriations Committee's Legislative Branch Subcommittee, U.S. Comptroller General David Walker said that in fiscal 2000, the agency completed its first electronic knowledge and skills assessment and inventory, which the agency will use to help identify skill gaps and succession planning needs.

But in its report this week, the committee expressed concern "that GAO has not conducted a full assessment of its human capital needs to meet its mission and fulfill its strategic plan."

Because of this, the committee is asking for a full assessment with recommendations on the optimal staffing level for 2002 and future years, "including full consideration of activities which appropriately should be contracted out."

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