Audit finds shortcomings in DOD's workforce plan

The Defense Department’s strategic plan for its civilian employees does not meet most of the reporting requirements that Congress imposed under authorization legislation two years ago, according to the Government Accountability Office.

GAO said that the plan submitted to the House and Senate armed services committees last November — 10 months after it was due — failed to address six of the eight reporting requirements mandated by the National Defense Authorization for Fiscal Year 2006. For example, the plan doesn’t include an assessment of current mission-critical competencies, future critical skills and competencies needed, gaps between current and future workforce needs, or specific recruiting and retention goals as required under the act, GAO said in an audit released Feb. 7.

In addition, the plan provides only a list of the mission-critical occupations needed for DOD’s workforce, not an assessment of the skills of its current employees as required under the act, GAO said.

In a response to GAO's audit, Patricia Bradshaw, deputy undersecretary of Defense for civilian personnel policy, said DOD disagreed with the “presentation of information as portrayed in your findings.” DOD’s strategic plan reflected “a centralized enterprisewide strategic perspective” called for by Congress, she said, adding that the department expects to include “more compressive documents in our required March 2008 report.”

In documents provided to GAO in its response to the audit, DOD officials said the workforce assessments required by Congress “can be found in many documents,” including reporting to the Office of Personnel Management and the Office of Management and Budget. Brenda Farrell, GAO's director of defense capabilities and management, commented that “while the information contained in these attachments might address some of the statutory requirements, none of the information was submitted to Congress with DOD’s civilian human capital strategic plan.”

In its audit, GAO recommended that DOD submit to Congress a revised strategic human capital plan that addresses all of the statutory requirements in the report due next month.

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