Page images
PDF
EPUB

examines administrative issues that have a "payback" or can produce significant savings. However, they also said that their review will consider both legislative changes (long-run) and administrative changes (short-run) if cost savings may result.

Personnel Task Force

This task force also follows the general process for all task forces. In early August 1982, it had started phase III--the indepth review. After this phase, the task force will begin report writing. It plans, after cochair review and approval, to submit the report to Chairman Grace by mid-October 1982.

A review of its work process follows.

--W. R. Grace staff and other private sector individuals,

working through the Management Office, surveyed key personnel issues and briefed the project manager and cochairs.

--The project manager and his assistant refined these issues

through discussions with top Office of Personnel Management (OPM) officials and briefed the cochairs on June 17, 1982.

--On June 21, 1982, the task force began. The task force

cochairs recruited persons from the private sector to
serve as task force members.

--The project manager (who recently had retired from OPM)

briefed task force members on OPM and task force operations in late June and early July.

--Over a 2-week period in July, the task force refined its is

sues by interviewing top OPM offi als and reviewing previous reports on OPM.

--The project manager developed a work plan and submitted it

for Management Office review and approval. This Office
had not responded by early August. (Note: Management
Office officials told us that they only comment"--not
"approve"--work plans to coordinate, oversee, and generate
ideas.)

--The task force began reviewing OPM and Federal personnel

issues in late July. As a "cross-cutting" task force, it
will review other agencies' personnel processes. The proj-
ect manager planned to review Federal agencies in Atlanta
and Washington, D.C., and the Social Security Administration
in Baltimore.

--The task force's review depends primarily on interviews.

These interviews have ranged from the Director to employees at the GS-12 level. Also, the task force has interviewed employees at organizations that have examined OPM. The task force does not plan to generate new data through in-depth study or surveys .

--The task force will analyze the data on the basis of cost

trends and comparisons with private sector practices.

--The task force has not yet developed a report process or

format. After the cochairs' feedback on recommendations, teams of task force members will probably write the report under the project manager's supervision.

After this, the task force will disband. The task force does not have responsibility for developing an implementation strategy. However, the project manager assumed that someone would be responsible since the Survey is results oriented.

The project manager described other elements that affect this task force including:

--The Personnel Task Force's cochairs have (1) provided

guidance, (2) served as a "sounding board," and (3) re-
cruited staff/resources.

--Since the project manager has discretion in managing the

task force, his weekly reports to individual cochairs
mainly inform them. Cochairs lack time to assume opera-
tional responsibility. However, cochairs periodically
and individually visit the task force.

--Staffing the task force occurs on a "phase" basis. Skill,

availability, and timing of task force work determine who becomes a member at what time.

Although most members started in late June, and have remained, three worked only during the first few weeks; two others will only work during the latter stages.

--OPM has provided the task force space, furniture, and a

word processor for which the task force pays service charges. --The task force's objective is to identify potential cost

savings in the personnel area. Subsets of this objective are to recommend actions that can be implemented and select issues that can be studied in 2 to 3 months.

--Besides the nondisclosure agreement that task force members

sign, the project manager monitors members' affiliations

and task force duties to avoid conflicts. He particularly avoids consultants because they could use "inside" information for personal gain.

--The personnel task force's desk officer serves as a liai

son with the Management Office, helps get supplies, and coordinates the task force's work within OPM and with other agencies.

WHITE HOUSE OVERSIGHT

The Deputy Director of the Management Office, detailed from the Executive Office of the President to the Department of Commerce for this assignment, serves as liaison to top White House staff members. The Deputy Director told us that this channel is sporadic and informal and that no regular White House oversight exists. Because this channel exists to only keep the White House informed, the Deputy Director said that the White House does not try to direct the Survey's efforts.

The Director of the Management Office has also communicated directly with top Presidential aides. Also, the White House Counsel's Office has regularly discussed clearance activities and legal issues with the Management Office. The Deputy Director also said that an employee from the Office of Management and Budget helps the Management Office to coordinate with Federal agencies and will be involved with report implementation.

AGENCY OVERSIGHT

Federal agency involvement occurs from two perspectives. One, the Departments of Justice and Commerce have assisted the Survey While the former has provided legal advice, the latter supports the Survey's Executive Committee. The other perspective refers to Federal agencies whose operations are being reviewed by the Survey's task forces (see "Agency Perspectives"). The Justice and Commerce Departments also fall into this category.

Department of Justice,
Office of Legal Counsel

Department of Justice (DOJ) personnel described their role as reactive. In other words, they responded to the Survey's requests for legal advice. They noted that their participation mainly occurred in the Survey's early stages (spring-early summer 1982). They said that they had no role with the Survey as of early August but are available for Survey requests for legal advice.

DOJ legal advice has focused on the legal authority for the Survey and the Federal conflict-of-interest laws for special Government employees--the classification for Executive Committee

members. The DOJ referred us to the Survey for copies of legal opinions on these subjects.

However, The Management Office told us that these opinions and other information are confidential. Thus, the survey asked DOJ to determine whether the survey should provide this information to us. While DOJ officials declined to discuss this, they they said that they referred the matter to the White House.

Department of Commerce

DOC officials described its main function as overseeing and providing support to the Executive Committee which is a federally chartered advisory Committee of the agency. Given this relationship, DOC oversees the Committee's operations to insure that the Committee conforms to FACA.

Under FACA, DOC, as administering agent for this advisory committee, deals with areas such as agendas, notice, minutes, and balance of membership.

DOC officials said that they have done little regarding these provisions because the Committee has not met and because they had no selection role. They told us that they have not collected any information that task forces have generated.

In addition, DOC has provided legal assistance and guidance on conflicts of interest.

AGENCY PERSPECTIVES ON
THE SURVEY'S TASK FORCES

Because we wanted to obtain all participants' views and to complete our work quickly, we telephoned agency contacts to ask them about the Survey's task forces. The Survey identified these contacts for us.

The only other significant involvement with Survey groups occurred through cross-cutting task forces. These task forces differ from agency-oriented task forces that comprehensively examine one agency. Rather, cross-cutting task forces focus on administrative support functions that "cut across" agency lines. About one-half of the contacts referred to cross-cutting task forces. The most active cross-cutting task forces seem to deal with computers, financial management, procurement, and personnel.

Clearance for conflict of interest

Survey officials said that agency clearance was a major protection against conflicts for task force cochairs and members. We asked agency contacts about the clearance process. of the 18 respondents, 9 said that the agency conducted no clearance process; some said that their agency either relied on agency program managers to monitor conflicts or just reviewed the nondisclosure forms that task force members submitted.

For those with a clearance process, agencies simply compared one's task force duties with the occupation that the member identified. No agency reviewed personal financial interests since these members were not identified as SGES.

Only a few identified task force members or co-chairs whose participation raised concerns about conflict.

Task force objectives and area of study

In almost all cases, agency contacts perceived task force objectives as cost saving/inanagement improvements. A few were unsure about the objectives because the task force just began working in their agency.

Concerning the area of study, task forces' reviews seemed very broad. Most agencies helped task forces to identify the areas. Contacts said that task forces seemed to focus on anything that could save money--especially in the short term.

Agencies' responses to this question included the following.

--Four were unclear about the areas because the task force

still was defining the issues. Others only knew broad
areas to be reviewed.

--Among administrative areas under review, the most common

seemed to be computers, procurement, and personnel.

--Most said that a task force focused on administrative

areas; however, seven indicated that task forces also
seemed to review policy areas and specific programs.

--A few agency contacts believed that task forces had pre

conceived notions that focused more on philosophy than
objective findings.

Task force methodology

In almost all cases, agency contacts described the following task force review process:

--Task force officials briefed top agency officials.

--Agency officials explained key issues and programs.

--Task forces reviewed internal and external reports, con

ducted interviews, and examined agency records to refine
issues and evaluate.

These represent the broad steps. No agency contact seemed certain about the methods for analyzing the information or writing

« PreviousContinue »