« PreviousContinue »
The memorandum mentions six changes which are said to be of concern. Teams, Competitive Selection, lowered career ladder for auditors, no career ladder for specialists, increased paperwork requirements (PPMA, MDS, Program Plans, etc.) and interdivisional employee rotational policy.
Teams. The teams approach was adopted a year ago after an intensive study by a task force as to how to make GAO more effective, particularly in its responsiveness to the Congress. For many years there have been complaints from the Congress and its committees that GAO required too much time to complete a job. The task force concluded that this was the result of our system, not individual performance. The teams approach was recommended, and adopted, to cure this problem. It is the goal under the teams approach to deliver a product that provides the information needed, at the time it is needed, and in the form it is needed. To do this we have fixed primary responsibility for the results with the team leaders and team directors, whether they are in headquarters or the field. This has been a difficult undertaking and there are still many problems to be ironed out. However, the results so far show that we are making real progress toward our objective.
. Competitive Selection. Competitive Selection, which was adopted in 1976, was needed in GAO for a long time. For many years there were complaints from the staff that the positions were filled before it was known that vacancies existed; that the persons selected may not be qualified, etc. Under Competitive Selection this has changed. Vacancies are announced and all qualified persons get a chance to compete for the positions that are open. The Office of Internal Review recently completed a study of Competitive Selection in GAO and made some suggestions for improvement. These are now under consideration. I am not aware of anyone who believes that we should abandon Competitive Selection and go back to the old way of handling promotions. However, I an certain there are some improvements which can be made.
Also, Gao's Competitive Selection is consistent with the requirements of civil service, and with the procedures used by many Federal agencies.
Lowered Career Ladder for Auditors. The lowering of the professional career ladder from GS-14 to GS-12 was adopted in 1976. I realize this has been of concern to our professional staff but the facts were that we simply could not continue a career ladder up through grade GS-14 because the duties and responsibilities of all of the staff being promoted would not justify the grades. This was the main area in which we were criticized by the Civil Service Commission when we were audited two years ago. We had made the change before the Commission audit. While it is now more difficult to receive promotions to grade GS-13, and above, because there are not as many positions available, every staff member has an opportunity to compete for vacancies under Competitive Selection.
No Career Ladder for Specialists. This has been a difficult area for GAO with the increased number of specialists on our staff. We are presently working on the role of specialists (both disciplinary specialists and subject matter specialists) in GAO and we hope to have better definitions of those roles at the conclusion of our study, including a decision as to whether or not there should be a career track for specialists.
Increased Paperwork. It is realized that PPMA, MDS, Program Planning, and other systems which have been placed in effect may have caused increased paperwork. However, these systems are necessary if we are to effectively manage our professional resources of over 4,000 people and the some 1,600 different studies we have under way at any one time. It is hoped that as the systems shake down the paperwork can be reduced.
Interdivisional Employee Rotation Policy. We do not have a policy requiring interdivisional rotation because we have not thought such a policy was necessary for the development of the staff. However, division directors have been encouraged to transfer staff within their divisions when it is in the interest of the individual and the division. Also, some interdivisional transfers come about in the operation of the Competitive Selection process where a staff member from one division is selected to fill a higher grade position in another division. I am not aware of any real need for a change. in our policy at the present time.
I realize that many changes have been placed on the divisions and staff, particularly in the last year. However, both the Comptroller General and I believe they will result in a more effective GAO when they are fully implemented. This is what we all want. With your cooperation and support we believe we can achieve that objective.
UPWARD MOBILITY PROGRAM Mr. Staats. I might add one point here, Mr. Chairman. We have what we think is one of the best upward mobility programs in the government. We take individuals who are not professionals, maybe administrative or clerical even, and help them with their expenses to go to college, and then hire them as professionals. We would like to supply the information for the record on the number of those individuals. We have had very favorable comment on that from other agencies. Mr. BENJAMIN. Please.
Have you ever been analyzed, reviewed, or evaluated by any part of the Civil Rights Division or the Equal Opportunity Employment Commission?
Mr. STAATS. The Civil Service Commission has evaluated our program..
Mr. BENJAMIN. For your affirmative action? Mr. STAATS. Yes. Mr. BENJAMIN. Not only for the program butMr. STAATS. We have to update that once a year for them, and then they came in 2 years ago to make an evaluation.
Mr. Pin. A little over 2 years ago.
Mr. STAATS. About 2 years ago. I am happy to say, Mr. Chairman, that we have had a search for an equal opportunity officer for GAO and we think we have found a very good man in Mr. Yuille over here who just joined us about 3 or 4 weeks ago.
Mr. BENJAMIN. Have you seen this document? You haven't even seen it now, have you?
EMPLOYEE MORALE Mr. KELLER. Mr. Chairman, with reference to the material you handed me, the memorandum of December 20 concerns a different problem than equal employment. It is a broad question of employee morale as a result of a number of changes we have made. I have replied to that memorandum, which I will furnish for the record. Mr. BENJAMIN. Please.
Mr. STAATS. Some of the criticism referred to in the December 20 memorandum comes about because we have been making a large number of changes in the way we do our work in GAO, and again to try to get our work out faster and at less cost. It puts a strain on an organization when you have changes of the kind that we have put into effect in the last 4 or 5 years. For example, some individuals didn't have to travel before and now they are having to travel. There is also a concern in GAO about the slowdown in promotions. This slowdown has come about because of the slowdown in our budget in the last 2 years, as we have pointed out. When your budget is stable or being reduced, then you obviously have fewer promotions than you do when you are not in that situation, so that both those factors I think play a part in this memorandum.
Mr. BENJAMIN. So that no one thinks that I totally agree with what you are saying, other than the section 311 restriction, I think we have been very fair in the GAO budget, but not necessarily the staff years, as you pointed out earlier.
Mr. STAATS. We are not making this as criticism at all. I hope you will understand this. We would like to have had some increase
in 1978, but we understood about that. I think our main problem comes about because of the 5 percent cut, plus this big, unexpected workload increase that we have been hit with this last year, which we did not fully anticipate when we were here a year ago, and which no one could have anticipated. It has just been unprecedented.
Mr. BENJAMIN. I don't know if Mr. Stokes or Mr. Giamo have contacted you, since they also have had copies directed to them, but whatever response you share with us, would you please also direct copies to them?
UPPER LEVEL HIRES Mr. KELLER. Mr. Chairman, one of my staff just handed me statistics on upper level hires last year. I notice we had a total of 115 from October 1, 1977, through September 30. Of the 115, 48 were minorities.
Mr. BENJAMIN. How many were women?
Mr. KELLER. That is within the 48. It actually breaks down 10 blacks, 1 Hispanic, 6 Orientals, and 31 women.
Mr. BENJAMIN. We will wait until we receive your response to this. If we have any further questions we will direct them to you on that.
GAO HOTLINE In January, a news article indicated that a problem existed between the GAO and OMB with regard to a telephone hotline on which citizens can report fraud, waste or abuse in Federal operations.
What is the status of this project? Have any problems been resolved between the two agencies?
Mr. STAATS. I don't think there is a problem, Mr. Chairman, at all. As a part of this anti-fraud effort that we have made, we instituted, at the suggestion of the Senate Appropriation Committee, a toll-free line, whereby a citizen or a government employee, anyone, could call in, anonymously or not, to offer any information they might have with respect to either fraud, abuse or allegations of such. This is, incidentally, paying off very well, much better than any of us thought it would. We can give you details on that if you would like.
Mr. BENJAMIN. Would you please. I ask that, Mr. Staats, because the FBI has apparently done it in three instances, and they are evaluating how successful it has been. Their preliminary report shows it wasn't as successful as they thought it might be.
Mr. STAATS. We find that over half of the calls that have been received have some substance behind them. In some cases they are sending forward documents. This is a higher figure than we thought it would be.
What is involved in the executive branch, and this item in the press is a garble, is the following: They are interested in implementing the so-called “whistleblower” provision in the Civil Service Reform Act. Some of the agencies are setting up not public toll-free lines but lines in the Federal tele communications system, whereby an employee can call in to the Inspector General of the agency. It
is a very different kind of a function, but there is no problem or disagreement at all between us and OMB.
IMPLEMENTATION OF INTERNAL AUDIT AGENCIES'
Mr. BENJAMIN. On October 25, 1978, the GAO issued a report which explained that more effective action was needed to imple ment recommendation contained in the audit reports of the executive branch's numerous internal audit agencies.
Could you explain what progress has been made in resolution and/or collection of questioned or unallowable costs? Do you have any suggestions as to how the Congress might act to improve this situation?
I ask that for the record. Mr. STAATS. All right. [The following responses were supplied for the record:) Subsequent to issuance of the report, OMB officials met with agency representatives concluding that there is indeed a problem. In a letter dated December 6, 1978, they requested agencies to provide additional information on unresolved audit findings and audit followup and resolution systems.
Recently OMB informed GAO that some agencies did not respond with information that was exactly as OMB wanted. As a result, OMB does not have a good measure at this time in the backlog of questioned or unallowable costs. OMB does believe, however, that the situation has improved since agencies have been reexamining and improving their audit resolution systems. OMB also is considering what changes are needed to its circulars containing guidance for resolving audit findings.
GAO has received agency replies to the draft and final report. Most of the replies agreed, at least in principle, with the audit findings and the need for improvement. In a general way, the Department of Defense felt that no changes were needed in their current system. Several other agencies disagreed with specific individual recommendations. In some cases, even when the agencies agreed, there is some ques tion whether the corrective actions cited will correct the problems.
GAO staff is currently working with the House Government Operations Committee to prepare for hearings on the report. The hearings are expected in March.
BUDGET SCHEDULES AND JUSTIFICATIONS
Mr. BENJAMIN. At this point in the record, we will insert the budget schedules, the organization chart, the narrative on pages B1 through B-12, and the summary tables on pages C-1 through C-8 of the justifications.
[The information follows: