U.S. Government Accountability Office:
Human Capital Initiatives and Additional Legislative Authorities
GAO-08-573T: Published: Mar 13, 2008. Publicly Released: Mar 13, 2008.
Today's testimony discusses several important topics: (1) provisions of H.R. 3268, the GAO Act, that would bolster our ability to attract and retain a highly skilled and diverse workforce needed to serve the Congress and provide for operational improvements and administrative efficiencies; (2) steps we are taking to establish and maintain a constructive working relationship with the GAO Employees Organization, International Federation of Professional and Technical Engineers (IFPTE); and (3) my commitment to ensure fair and equitable treatment for all segments of our diverse workforce, as reinforced by our commissioning of a study of various performance assessment issues related to African-American Analysts at GAO.
The GAO Act contains several distinct and critical components. A number of provisions are designed to benefit our employees and to provide a means to continue to attract, retain, and reward a top-flight workforce, while other provisions are aimed at helping us improve our operations and increase administrative efficiencies. We ask for Congressional support of these measures and have outlined each of them below. On September 19, 2007, our Band I and Band II Analysts, Auditors, Specialists, and Investigators voted to be represented by the International Federation of Professional and Technical Engineers (IFPTE) for the purpose of bargaining with GAO management on various terms and conditions of employment. GAO management is committed to working constructively with employee union representatives to forge a positive labor-management relationship. Since September, GAO management has taken a variety of steps to ensure it is following applicable labor relations laws and has the resources in place to work effectively and productively in this new union environment. Our efforts have involved: (1) postponing work on several initiatives regarding our current performance and pay programs; (2) delivering specialized labor-management relations training to our Band III, Band III-equivalent, SES, and Senior Level staff; (3) establishing a new Workforce Relations Center within our Human Capital Office that is responsible for providing employee relations and labor relations advice and services to GAO management and leadership; (4) hiring a Workforce Relations Center director, who also serves as our chief negotiator in collective bargaining deliberations. In addition, we routinely notify union representatives of meetings that may qualify as formal discussions, so that a representative of the GAO Employees Organization, IFPTE, can attend the meeting. We also regularly provide the GAO Employees Organization, IFPTE, with information about projects involving changes to terms and conditions of employment over which the union has the right to bargain. We are pleased that GAO and the GAO Employees Organization, IFPTE, reached a prompt agreement on 2008 pay adjustments. The agreement was overwhelmingly ratified by bargaining unit members on February 14, 2008, and we have applied the agreed-upon approach to the 2008 adjustments to all GAO staff, with the exception of the SES and Senior-Level staff, regardless of whether they are represented by the union. Recruiting, rewarding, and retaining a high-performing diverse workforce is critical if GAO is to successfully carry out its mission in support of the Congress. An effective GAO requires a first-rate workforce that is representative of our society and steeped in a wide variety of disciplines that can gather the facts and develop innovative solutions to both old and new problems challenging the federal government. This overall positive work environment is one of many reasons GAO's dedicated and talented workforce is able to effectively serve the Congress and produce solid results for the American people. Last fiscal year, our work contributed to hundreds of improvements in government operations and benefits, as well as $45.9 billion in financial benefits or a $94 return for every dollar the Congress invested in us. We also contributed to over 270 congressional hearings and provided hundreds of valuable products to assist the Congress on topics as wide ranging as food safety, border patrol, and tax compliance.