This is the accessible text file for GAO report number GAO-11-615T 
entitled 'GAO Human Capital Management: Efforts Taken to Ensure 
Effective Campus Recruitment' which was released on June 21, 2011. 

This text file was formatted by the U.S. Government Accountability 
Office (GAO) to be accessible to users with visual impairments, as 
part of a longer term project to improve GAO products' accessibility. 
Every attempt has been made to maintain the structural and data 
integrity of the original printed product. Accessibility features, 
such as text descriptions of tables, consecutively numbered footnotes 
placed at the end of the file, and the text of agency comment letters, 
are provided but may not exactly duplicate the presentation or format 
of the printed version. The portable document format (PDF) file is an 
exact electronic replica of the printed version. We welcome your 
feedback. Please E-mail your comments regarding the contents or 
accessibility features of this document to 

This is a work of the U.S. government and is not subject to copyright 
protection in the United States. It may be reproduced and distributed 
in its entirety without further permission from GAO. Because this work 
may contain copyrighted images or other material, permission from the 
copyright holder may be necessary if you wish to reproduce this 
material separately. 

United States Government Accountability Office: 


Before the Subcommittee on Oversight of Government Management, the 
Federal Workforce, and the District of Columbia, Committee on Homeland 
Security and Governmental Affairs, U.S. Senate: 

For Release on Delivery: 
Expected at 2:30 p.m. EDT:
Tuesday, June 21, 2011: 

GAO Human Capital Management: 

Efforts Taken to Ensure Effective Campus Recruitment: 

Statement of Patricia Dalton,
Chief Operating Officer: 


Chairman Akaka, Ranking Member Johnson, and Members of the 

Thank you for the opportunity to be here today to discuss GAO's campus 
recruitment program. As an organization committed to having a high- 
performing, diverse workforce, we place great importance on 
attracting, hiring, training, and retaining employees with the skills 
needed to support GAO's mission to serve Congress and the American 
public. We have a multi-disciplinary workforce, with most staff having 
backgrounds in public policy, public administration, law, business, 
computer science, accounting, or social sciences. While our current 
and future hiring will be shaped by today's constrained budget 
environment, over the past 5 years, on average, we have hired about 
300 employees each year. The majority of these hires were for analyst 
and analyst-related positions at the entry level. We also have a 
robust paid student intern program each year. Many of these interns 
return as entry-level analysts. 

Having a strong campus recruitment program has played a key role in 
attracting highly qualified candidates for our permanent and intern 
positions and building our workforce. In response to your request, I 
will focus my remarks on (1) the strong partnerships developed through 
our campus recruitment program, (2) recent actions we have taken to 
enhance the program and the positive outcomes we've experienced, and 
(3) the programs and policies we have in place to support new staff. 

Our Campus Recruitment Program Has Led to Strong Partnerships with 

About a decade ago we implemented a campus recruitment program to 
increase GAO's visibility on campuses and help us attract highly- 
qualified and diverse candidates. The key elements of this program are 
(1) ongoing relationships with many colleges and universities and (2) 
the use of senior executives and other staff to develop and maintain 
those relationships. We supplement this program through additional 
activities designed to help others learn about GAO. 

We have established ongoing relationships with many colleges and 
universities across the country. While we advertise all of our new 
positions publicly, currently we have relationships with about 70 
colleges and universities, including private and public colleges and 
universities, Historically Black Colleges and Universities, Hispanic- 
serving institutions, and other minority-serving institutions. These 
targeted schools have academic programs relevant to our skill needs 
(e.g., public policy, accounting, business or computer science) and 
that prepare students well for success at GAO. Our relationship- 
building over the years has been based primarily on visiting many of 
these schools to participate in on-campus events. 

We use senior executives and other staff from across the agency to 
develop and maintain these relationships. Serving as "recruiters," 
these executives and staff help faculty, career placement officials, 
and students at the colleges and universities we visit understand the 
work we do and the skills required for that work. Senior executives, 
who serve as Campus Executives, have specific schools for which they 
are responsible. Other staff--often alumni of those schools--support 
the executives by setting up and participating in campus events, such 
as information sessions, class presentations, or career fairs. Our 
staff often seek opportunities to communicate about our mission and 
their experiences at GAO to interested parties, as they view 
recruitment opportunities as part of their institutional stewardship 

In addition to our targeted campus outreach, we conduct a variety of 
activities to help potential candidates and officials from colleges 
and universities learn about GAO or the type of work we do. For 
example, our analyst staff often works with students enrolled in 
masters' programs in public policy or administration on projects in 
which GAO acts as a "client." Groups of students are assigned an issue 
or evaluation topic, then advised by our staff as they proceed with 
their research, which culminates in a report to us as the client. 
These projects provide students "real world" experience in conducting 
public policy analysis. We also address classes or groups of students 
and host visits from groups to hear about our work and GAO's impact. 
Since 2001, we have held a yearly Educators' Advisory Panel, which 
includes deans and professors from schools we visit as well as 
selected others. Through this panel, we have obtained advice and 
provided feedback about ways schools can refine and strengthen their 
curricula to make their graduates more successful. 

Finally, we conduct outreach to professional organizations and groups. 
We attend and/or make presentations at various conferences or invite 
representatives of these groups to address GAO staff. The groups we 
have networked with in the past include those whose members have 
relevant backgrounds (e.g., the American Economic Association), as 
well as other groups with members that traditionally have been 
underrepresented in the federal workforce, including the American 
Association of Hispanic CPAs, the National Association of Black 
Accountants, or the Federal Asian Pacific American Council. 

Our approach has been extremely effective in developing strong 
partnerships with many colleges and universities and professional 
organizations. Our brand recognition has grown tremendously on 
campuses and in the public policy arena. This, among other reasons, 
has contributed to our receiving thousands of high-quality applicants 
each year for our advertised positions. 

We Have Taken Actions to Enhance Our Campus Recruitment Program: 

As part of overall efforts to focus more attention on our strategic 
human capital management, we have taken proactive steps to improve our 
recruitment program. Specifically, we (1) established stronger 
linkages between our recruitment efforts and organizational workforce 
needs, (2) increased diversity of and enhanced supports for our staff 
serving as recruiters, and (3) instituted stronger program management 
and accountability processes. We have seen positive outcomes from 
these efforts. 

Established Stronger Linkages between Recruitment Efforts and 
Workforce Needs: 

Consistent with our recommendations to other agencies,[Footnote 1] we 
have established stronger linkages between our recruitment efforts and 
our workforce needs identified through our annual workforce and 
strategic planning processes and in our annual Workforce Diversity 
Plans.[Footnote 2] To accomplish this, we adopted a recruiting 
framework that has allowed us to better address our skill gaps and 
enhance the diversity of our workforce, such as hiring more Hispanics, 
individuals with disabilities, and veterans. This framework was 
particularly critical this year, as we needed to identify how to 
address our needs despite significant fiscal constraints. Using this 
framework, we made decisions to discontinue certain efforts or 
initiate new ones to meet our needs and better allocate our resources. 
For example, we customized our interactions with campuses so that we 
could devote the appropriate level and type of resources needed to 
meet our needs. While we continue to believe that developing and 
maintaining strong relationships with college and university campuses 
is critical,[Footnote 3] on-site visits are less necessary given 
workforce and technological changes. As a result, based on an analysis 
of our workforce needs, school characteristics (e.g., student 
demographics, academic programs, and proximity of the campus to GAO 
offices), and our history with the campuses (e.g., number of 
applicants, applicant experience, and hires), our efforts now include 
a range of both on-site and virtual activities. The benefit of this 
approach is that we can adjust it at any time based on our needs. 

We also made critical decisions about how to best supplement our 
campus outreach efforts to support our workforce needs in the most 
cost-effective manner. We considered our costs to participate in 
various events, results from past participation, and the anticipated 
future benefits in order to set our future priorities about what 
organizations and events we would centrally support.[Footnote 4] For 
example, we supported participation in the Careers and the disABLED 
Expo and the Association of Latinos in Public Finance and Accounting 
Conference to help enhance the diversity of our workforce as well as 
to attract candidates with needed skills. We also partnered with the 
Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities, as well as the 
Public Policy and International Affairs Fellowship Program, to hire 10 
qualified student interns.[Footnote 5] We also determined how we could 
cost-efficiently use other approaches to meet our needs. As a result, 
we have advertised in those journals targeting individuals with 
disabilities, African-Americans, or critical skill areas (e.g., 
economists) to expand our outreach. We also utilized low-cost 
mechanisms such as electronically notifying hundreds of colleges and 
universities and relevant organizations about vacancies, revamping our 
external careers web site, and updating our recruitment materials to 
provide better information about GAO's worklife, programs, and values. 
[Footnote 6] These efforts are important ways to inform any interested 
candidate about GAO and available opportunities. 

Increased Diversity of and Enhanced Supports for Recruiters: 

Given the important role our recruiters serve in our campus 
recruitment program, we have taken steps to have a recruitment cadre 
that is diverse and well-trained. We solicited recruiters from 
throughout GAO and asked representatives from our numerous employee 
groups to serve as recruiters. Our recruitment cadre is diverse--
representing staff from various GAO offices, teams, locations, job 
levels and positions. We also required that each employee interested 
in becoming a recruiter obtain senior management approval and attend 
our training workshop to learn about GAO-wide workforce needs and 
improve his or her ability to provide accurate, consistent, and timely 
information about our operations, programs, worklife, and values. This 
training has helped to ensure that all recruiters understand their 

We also have developed additional support for our recruiters to ensure 
consistent and timely dissemination of information. This support has 
included a slide presentation that describes GAO's core values, 
business operations, and impact; a tip sheet that helps recruiters 
understand how to work with prospective applicants who may need to be 
accommodated; and a listing of specific types of activities recruiters 
can undertake at targeted campuses. While we have not identified a 
single "best practice," some of our efforts that have proven 
successful include: 

* sending recruitment brochures/supplies to campus contacts; 

* researching and contacting appropriate campus-based groups that have 
a diverse membership, as well as professional associations and 
relevant academic programs; 

* establishing strong relationships with career placement staff; 

* conducting information sessions with appropriate audiences; 

* participating in career fairs, when appropriate; 

* making class presentations that illustrate the nature of our work; 

* getting our work incorporated into program curricula; and: 

* serving on advisory boards or as adjunct faculty with colleges and 

To further assist our recruiters, we have provided real-time 
information and suggestions to help them better leverage their time. 
Specifically, we have kept recruiters apprised of the status of hiring 
announcements and shared data on the number of individuals hired for 
different positions--including the names of individuals hired from 
their specific schools--so recruiters could see the results of their 
efforts. Given additional budget constraints, we have suggested ways 
for our recruiters to more cost-effectively maintain strong campus 
relationships such as: 

* asking various academic programs within the same college or 
university to schedule joint presentations or visits by GAO; 

* asking recent interns/hires to serve as informal ambassadors; and: 

* using local GAO staff to attend events at various campuses. 

Instituted Stronger Program Management and Accountability Processes: 

In order to be able to better manage our campus recruitment program 
and assess program outcomes, we instituted a number of structural and 
administrative changes over the last several years. We placed overall 
program responsibility in our Human Capital Office and created three 
senior-level advisory boards to provide insight on our program 
operations and results. To obtain more robust information on recruiter 
activity, as well as create more program accountability, we have 
developed a standardized template to document recruiters' strategies 
for working with individual schools and organizations. Through this 
template, recruiters must provide information on the members of the 
recruitment team, planned activities at the school or organization, 
and estimated costs. This strategy document must be completed by the 
recruiters, submitted to, and approved by Human Capital Office staff 
before funding is authorized and activities can begin. When an event 
is completed, recruiters report what occurred and assess the outcome. 
This information is summarized and subsequently shared with our 
recruiters in the form of best practices or lessons learned. The 
template also serves as the basis for data collection on agency-wide 
recruitment activity, including number of campuses and organizations 
visited, number and type of events conducted, costs associated with 
each event, and recruiters' views on the effectiveness of various 

We also have instituted more rigorous data collection and analysis of 
applicant and hire information. For example, for fiscal year 2010 
vacancies, we analyzed information on the background and diversity of 
our applicants and hires (e.g., degree level obtained, school 
attended, years of work experience, ethnicity, race, gender) and the 
information applicants provided on why they applied for the job. 
Through analysis of these data, we were able to gain insight on how 
our program activities related to our hiring outcomes. For example, we 
identified the percentage of applicants and hires that came from the 
colleges and universities we targeted, or that applied because of an 
interaction with GAO. While not perfect, this analysis has helped us 
to learn what is working, or what changes we need to make to enhance 
our recruitment approach. 

While we have made great strides in using data to inform and assess 
our campus recruitment program operations, we continue to explore how 
to judge the effectiveness of our recruitment efforts. For example, it 
is challenging to define a specific benchmark when assessing whether 
the number of applicants and hires from the schools or organizations 
we target is sufficient given our expenditures. Additionally, it is 
difficult to specifically identify those factors beyond our outreach-- 
such as our mission, recognition as one of the best places to work, or 
informal communications--that affect an individual's decision to apply 
to GAO. To that end, we plan to gather more detailed information from 
our applicants about the role of factors beyond our outreach efforts 
that have influenced their decisions to apply to GAO. This information 
can inform our future recruitment efforts. 

Achieved Positive Outcomes: 

Our efforts have led to positive outcomes. We have achieved the 
institutional focus we were seeking by ensuring that our recruitment 
efforts are both driven by and support organizational needs. We also 
have gained efficiencies by adopting approaches that allow us to be 
more agile in responding to changing workforce needs and budget 
constraints. We continue to be an employer of choice and we received 
thousands of applications for our open positions in fiscal year 2010. 
As an example, we received about 20 applications for each of our GAO 
Graduate Analyst Intern positions filled in fiscal year 2010. Even 
more, representation of African-Americans, Hispanics, and Asian- 
Americans in the pool of qualified applicants and hires for the intern 
and entry-level positions filled in fiscal year 2010 exceeded the 
established benchmarks. 

Our Programs and Policies Help Support New Staff: 

Along with attracting and hiring high-quality, diverse staff, we have 
implemented programs and policies to support new staff once they 
arrive at GAO. The support for our entry-level staff comes 
predominantly through their participation in our highly regarded, 2-
year, Professional Development Program (PDP). This program provides 
new employees with the foundations to be successful because it teaches 
them about our core values, how we do our work, and the standards by 
which we assess our performance. All entry-level analyst or analyst-
related new hires are assigned advisers to assist in their development 
and provide support, although staff are also strongly encouraged to 
take an active role in their own career development by crafting 
Individual Development Plans and assessing their own strengths and 
growth areas. Staff receive multiple assignments while in the program 
so they can gain firsthand experience with the wide range of our work. 
They also receive a rigorous regimen of classroom and on-the-job 
training to learn about our work processes and requirements. Staff in 
the PDP program also receive formal feedback every 3 months and twice-
yearly performance appraisals that can result in salary increases. 
[Footnote 7] 

In addition, actions of our senior leaders as well as several policies 
and other programs help our new hires make a successful adjustment to 
GAO. For example, various agency leaders, including the Comptroller 
General, Chief Human Capital Officer, Special Assistant to the 
Comptroller General for Diversity Issues, General Counsel, and our 
Chief Learning Officer participate in new-hire orientation. In 
addition, the Comptroller General and I meet with new employees during 
their first few months to answer any questions about GAO or our 
relationship with Congress. Other senior managers, including Managing 
Directors and directors in each GAO team, are encouraged not only to 
meet with new staff but take an active role in their development and 
day-to-day work environment. We also have policies in place to foster 
an inclusive and supportive work environment and help all staff 
balance work and life. For example, we support flexible scheduling, 
including telework and part-time arrangements, as allowed, given work 
responsibilities. We also have a student loan repayment program to 
help eligible staff defray educational costs. PDP staff, as all staff 
at GAO, can take advantage of a mentoring program to assist staff in 
becoming effective leaders, managing their work environments, and 
developing their careers. 

These programs and policies have helped make GAO a great place to 
work, as evidenced by our employees' decisions to stay with GAO and 
results from our employee feedback surveys. GAO's overall attrition 
rate has generally been below 10 percent for the last 5 years, and it 
was 6 percent in fiscal year 2010. About 90 percent of analyst and 
analyst-related staff hired in fiscal year 2008 are still with us. 
Feedback from newly hired staff show high levels of overall job 
satisfaction, as well as high levels of satisfaction regarding the on-
the-job training they receive and staff development opportunities they 
are provided. Overall employee satisfaction levels contributed to GAO 
being named as the second best place to work in the federal government 
in both 2009 and 2010. 

Chairman Akaka, Ranking Member Johnson, and Members of the 
Subcommittee, this concludes my prepared remarks. I will be happy to 
answer any questions you or other members of the Subcommittee may have. 

GAO Contact and Staff Acknowledgments: 

For more information about this testimony, please contact Patricia 
Dalton, Chief Operating Officer, at (202) 512-5600 or by e-mail at Contact points for our Offices of Congressional 
Relations and Public Affairs may be found on the last page of this 
testimony. Individuals making key contributions to this testimony 
included Carolyn M. Taylor, Special Assistant to the Comptroller 
General for Diversity Issues; Lori Rectanus, Assistant Director; 
Harriet Ganson, Assistant Director; Cady Panetta, Senior Analyst; and 
Susan Aschoff, Senior Communications Analyst. 

[End of section] 


[1] GAO, Human Capital: Sustained Attention to Strategic Human Capital 
Management Needed, [hyperlink,] (Washington, D.C.: Apr. 22, 

[2] Each year we issue a Workforce Diversity Plan that assesses the 
representation of our workforce, evaluates the outcomes from our key 
human capital processes, and summarizes the views of our employees. 
Based on this information, we identify areas for improvement and 
action steps for the following year. 

[3] In 2008, we reported that one of the major challenges for federal 
hiring was that agencies were often too passive in their recruitment 
efforts. See GAO, Human Capital: Transforming Federal Recruiting and 
Hiring Efforts, [hyperlink,] 
(Washington, D.C.: May 8, 2008). 

[4] GAO staff attend a wide range of professional development 
conferences. However, these events are generally supported by 
individual units rather than centrally. 

[5] These organizations were selected in part because they serve 
Hispanic students or others underrepresented in leadership positions 
in government and other organizations. 

[6] We also use our Twitter™, YouTube™, and Flickr™ accounts as 
mechanisms to enhance our name recognition. 

[7] Staff in the intern program also receive training, formal 
expectations, and an end-of-internship assessment with performance 

[End of section] 

GAO's Mission: 

The Government Accountability Office, the audit, evaluation and 
investigative arm of Congress, exists to support Congress in meeting 
its constitutional responsibilities and to help improve the performance 
and accountability of the federal government for the American people. 
GAO examines the use of public funds; evaluates federal programs and 
policies; and provides analyses, recommendations, and other assistance 
to help Congress make informed oversight, policy, and funding 
decisions. GAO's commitment to good government is reflected in its core 
values of accountability, integrity, and reliability. 

Obtaining Copies of GAO Reports and Testimony: 

The fastest and easiest way to obtain copies of GAO documents at no 
cost is through GAO's Web site [hyperlink,]. Each 
weekday, GAO posts newly released reports, testimony, and 
correspondence on its Web site. To have GAO e-mail you a list of newly 
posted products every afternoon, go to [hyperlink,] 
and select "E-mail Updates." 

Order by Phone: 

The price of each GAO publication reflects GAO’s actual cost of
production and distribution and depends on the number of pages in the
publication and whether the publication is printed in color or black and
white. Pricing and ordering information is posted on GAO’s Web site, 

Place orders by calling (202) 512-6000, toll free (866) 801-7077, or
TDD (202) 512-2537. 

Orders may be paid for using American Express, Discover Card,
MasterCard, Visa, check, or money order. Call for additional 

To Report Fraud, Waste, and Abuse in Federal Programs: 


Web site: [hyperlink,]: 
Automated answering system: (800) 424-5454 or (202) 512-7470: 

Congressional Relations: 

Ralph Dawn, Managing Director, 
(202) 512-4400: 
U.S. Government Accountability Office: 
441 G Street NW, Room 7125: 
Washington, D.C. 20548: 

Public Affairs: 

Chuck Young, Managing Director, 
(202) 512-4800: 
U.S. Government Accountability Office: 
441 G Street NW, Room 7149: 
Washington, D.C. 20548: