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In FY 74, GAO formally established its Upward Mobility Program to • provide career opportunities for underutilized and underdeveloped employees
and to enable them to achieve their highest potential. The first 5 years of the program have been very successful. To date, 58 participants have graduated from the program and progressed from the non-professional ranks to the professional staff. Currently, there are 33 participants receiving both classroom and on-the-job training designed to facilitate their progression to the professional ranks.
The success of the program is due in large measure to the continuing support provided by division and office directors, supervisors, sponsors, and other members of management who recognize the value of the program and are committed to the concepts of equal employment opportunity and human resource development. The program will continue to receive vigorous manage
ment support this year and in future years; consequently, we expect to · maintain a dynamic and highly successful program,
You will be receiving information through the Management News outlining recent administrative changes in the Upward Mobility Program which are designed to integrate this program with other personnel activities. The Management News will also provide information on the probable number of vacancies and the eligibility requirements for FY 79.
With the continued support of all GAO employees, I am sure that the Upward Mobility Program in FY 79 will be even more successful than previous years.
: Deputy Comptroller General - Mr. Robert F. Keller
Recently, I received a written communication, indicating that the numerous changes in GAO organization and operating procedures in recent years are possibly causing concerns and morale problems among its professional staff. While I question that these concerns are shared by any large number of our staff it occurred to me nevertheless that the points raised deserve a response, a response which could be shared with the entire staff of the GAO.
First, let me say that based on over 40 years' experience with the Office · I have found GAO to be a constantly changing organization. We have gone from voucher auditing, to comprehensive auditing of financial management and studies of economy and efficiency, to program evaluation. We have had many organizational changes in that period, the latest major change being in 1972. Our professional staff has changed markedly. We now have a multi-disciplinary staff which we can rightfully claim to be second to none in Government. Why all of these changes? The simple fact is no organization remains status quo and stays in business. Organizations must change as the needs of society change. GAO is no exception, nor should it be.
It is worth emphasizing that GAO's overall responsibility is to serve the needs of the Congress as it has attempted to do in the nearly 60 years of its history. The Congress' own needs have greatly increased in recent years, The Federal Government has grown in size and complexity of its operations. Along with this, GAO's workload has doubled within the past 10 years. The percentage of its work responding to specific requests from the Congress has increased more than threefold. The operations of the Government which GAO must audit become more complex. Moreover, the Congress in 1970 and again in 1974 made basic changes in the charter of the GAO, increasing both the range and kind of work which it performs in behalf of the Congress.
In my opinion, GAO has been responsive in meeting these new demands. By any test, I believe our impact and effectiveness have shown marked improvement. A reading of the accomplishment section of our Annual Report certainly bears testimony on this point. The changes mentioned in the memorandum which I have received have all been an effort to meet our changing responsibilities.
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, MS, 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 conplaints 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 am 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 but-Mr. 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