Managing human capital
Buzz of the week
Management isnt easy, and management in the government is even more complex.
The latest example of that is the Government Accountability Office. Last week, GAO analysts voted 897 to 445 to unionize, joining the International Federation of Professional and Technical Engineers. Of course, that comes on the heels of GAO being named as the second best place to work in government by the Partnership for Public Service and American Universitys Institute for the Study of Public Policy Implementation.
It is too early to know the lessons from GAOs efforts to modernize its workforce practices. As part of GAOs pay-for-performance plan, Comptroller General David Walker decided to do away with annual cost-of-living increases for some employees in certain pay bands in lieu of...well, pay for performance. It is an understatement to say that concept has not gone over well.
Undoubtedly, lessons will accrue from GAOs experience, particularly for the presidential candidates who will be looking at GAO and the Bush administrations pay-for-performance initiatives at the Defense and HomelandSecurity departments.
Clearly, one lesson is that pay changes are difficult. The broader question is this: Are they necessary? A strong constituency argues that pay for performance is nearly impossible in government because it is so difficult to determine exactly what exceptional performance consists of. Performance in a government project is determined by so many factors.
Last week appears to have been a turning point in reforming the government pay system. What remains unclear is where that turning point takes us.