GAO drafts personnel strategy

The President's Management Agenda

The General Accounting Office has released a draft of a new model for strategic human capital management in the federal government that likely will replace the Office of Management and Budget's score card, according to congressional testimony March 18.

GAO's new plan — which offers agencies a set of principles and management tools with which to address the needs of the changing federal workforce — was developed with input and review from the Office of Personnel Management, Kay Coles James, the director of OPM, told the Senate Governmental Affairs Committee's International Security, Proliferation and Federal Services Subcommittee.

The new plan will be finalized in the next few months, James said. "What you'll probably end up with is the GAO model, and [OPM] may add one or two things that we think are important. We're trying to reach consensus on that in the interest of not confusing the federal workforce," she said.

The hearing focused on a number of legislative proposals to change the management of the federal workforce, including the Federal Human Capital Act of 2001, sponsored by Sen. George Voinovich (R-Ohio), a member of the Governmental Affairs Committee. Voinovich's bill, designed to enable agencies to recruit and retain skilled workers and better manage those already on board, creates the chief human capital officer position.

Recognizing that people are assets whose value can be enhanced through investment is one of the two guiding principles behind the GAO's new model, Comptroller General David Walker told the subcommittee.

That principle is a "top priority" for GAO, he said. "The number of applications to work at GAO have tripled in last year," Walker added. "Some of that is the economy, but some of it is we're trying to lead by example — trying to make our organization a world-class organization that just happens to be in the government."

The other guiding principle for GAO's new model declares that personnel approaches should be designed, implemented and assessed "by the standard of how well they help the organization pursue its mission and achieve desired results or outcomes," Walker testified.

The heart of the model, he added, consists of eight critical success factors that are organized in pairs to correspond to "four cornerstones of effective strategic human capital management." They include:

* Leadership, based on the factors of a commitment to human capital management and the role of the human capital function.

* Strategic human capital planning based on integration and alignment, and data-driven personnel decisions.

* Acquiring, developing and retaining talent, based on targeted investments in people and personnel approaches that are tailored to meet organizational needs.

* Results-oriented organizational cultures, based on empowerment and inclusiveness, and unit and individual performance linked to organizational goals.

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