Managing human capital

Buzz of the week

Management isn’t 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 University’s Institute for the Study of Public Policy Implementation.

It is too early to know the lessons from GAO’s efforts to modernize its workforce practices. As part of GAO’s 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 GAO’s experience, particularly for the presidential candidates who will be looking at GAO and the Bush administration’s 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.

Featured

  • FCW PERSPECTIVES
    sensor network (agsandrew/Shutterstock.com)

    Are agencies really ready for EIS?

    The telecom contract has the potential to reinvent IT infrastructure, but finding the bandwidth to take full advantage could prove difficult.

  • People
    Dave Powner, GAO

    Dave Powner audits the state of federal IT

    The GAO director of information technology issues is leaving government after 16 years. On his way out the door, Dave Powner details how far govtech has come in the past two decades and flags the most critical issues he sees facing federal IT leaders.

  • FCW Illustration.  Original Images: Shutterstock, Airbnb

    Should federal contracting be more like Airbnb?

    Steve Kelman believes a lighter touch and a bit more trust could transform today's compliance culture.

Stay Connected

FCW Update

Sign up for our newsletter.

I agree to this site's Privacy Policy.