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High Risk Issue


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Strategic Human Capital Management

Problem: Strategic Human Capital Management has been on GAO's high risk list since 2001 when it became clear that federal human capital strategies did not meet the emerging needs of government and its citizens in the most effective, efficient, and economical manner possible.

Goal: Create effective human capital strategies that ensure the government has the right people, with the right skills, in the right jobs, and that hold employees accountable for achieving results.


  • Attract the Right Talent at the Right Time

    • In 2004, the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) set a governmentwide standard to hire employees within 45 days. Within two years of implementation, agency performance improved from 60% of hires to the current 81% of hires governmentwide being completed in 45 days.
    • In 2008, OPM released an End-To-End Hiring Roadmap, setting a more aggressive standard of 25 days. Agencies are currently implementing the roadmap, which is designed to attract applicants through shorter job announcements written in plain language, and the elimination of cumbersome Knowledge, Skills, and Abilities (KSA) narratives typically required with the application.
    • As of FY 2008, over 80% of agencies have closed competency gaps in mission critical occupations, including leadership, information technology, and human resources management.
  • Improve Human Capital Leadership and Accountability

    • In 2002, President Bush signed the Chief Human Capital Officers (CHCO) Act, which requires each agency to designate an executive to ensure the agency selects, develops, trains, and effectively manages a high-quality, productive workforce.
    • The Act gives OPM responsibility for establishing governmentwide standards for strategic human capital management. OPM partners with agency CHCOs through the CHCO Council to share best practices and lessons learned in transforming federal human capital management.
    • Through the President's Management Agenda, OPM required all agencies to develop strategic human capital plans that meet governmentwide standards for mission alignment, measurement of human capital outcomes, and use of results to drive organizational change. By the end of FY 2007, over 90% of agencies had met the standard for effective human capital planning.
  • Build a Results-Oriented Performance Culture

    • Since 2004, the Administration has implemented pay-for-performance among members of the Federal government??s Senior Executive Service (SES), its highest level managers.
    • OPM developed the Performance Appraisal Assessment Tool (PAAT) to help agencies assess the effectiveness of their performance appraisal programs at supporting a high performing organization. In 2001, Federal employees were appraised on competency rather than actual performance. As of 2008, all Federal agencies have implemented performance management systems that are aligned with agency mission, focus on results, and make differentiations in performance.
    • In addition, OPM developed a validated performance management competency model, and provided a web-based assessment tool that agencies use to identify competency gaps among their leaders, supervisors, employees and HR professionals. OPM has assisted agencies to close these competency gaps through workforce development.
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