UPDATED: Comptroller General: OPM falls short of its mission

Editor's Note: This story was updated at 10:30 a.m. June 29, 2006, to clarify that the hearing was June 27.

For an agency whose goal is to ensure an effective federal government civilian workforce, the Office of Personnel Management does not currently meet its own standards, a high-ranking official told Congress June 27.

“Given its governmentwide leadership responsibilities, it is particularly important that OPM seeks to ‘lead by example’ with its own human capital practices,” U.S. Comptroller General David Walker said at a June 27 hearing of the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Subcommittee on Oversight of Government Management, the Federal Workforce, and the District of Columbia.

Many OPM employees are unhappy with their work environment for a variety of reasons, he said, including lack of communication, failure to understand how their activities align with the agency’s mission, insufficient motivation and commitment from their leaders, the belief that they are not empowered to accomplish their tasks, and insufficient training.

The agency is at a transitional phase, moving away from a role of “a rule-maker, enforcer, and independent agent to more of a consultant, toolmaker, and strategic partner,” Walker said.

OPM has many issues on its plate, as about half the agency’s employees are eligible for retirement in September 2010, similar to other government agencies.

OPM Director Linda Springer said the agency is working to combat these issues through “operational excellence and strategic creativity.” Highlights include reorganizing the senior officers, improving intra-agency communication and morale, and creating the 2006-2010 Strategic and Operational Plan, which “is dominated by an action-oriented to-do list of approximately 170 deliverables, each with a due date,” Springer said.

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