EPA grants management staffing declined over 2006-2015 “but it is unclear how workloads may have changed” during that period because such information kept by the agency is “contradictory,” according to a GAO report.

It said that in that time the number of grant specialists and project officers who entered information about grant actions into the agency’s automated grants management system at key points in the process declined by 20 percent and 41 percent, respectively. However, the EPA has not consistently tracked and analyzed key aspects of grants management workload and does not even have a process for doing so, GAO said.

EPA partially follows leading practices of strategic workforce planning for its grants personnel by identifying critical skills and competencies, primarily for grant specialists; developing strategies to address skill and competency gaps by updating training courses as EPA issues new regulations; and taking some steps to monitor and evaluate progress by developing some performance measures, it said.

However, “because EPA does not have a documented process that can be consistently applied to obtain workload data across offices, its regional and national program offices allocate FTEs to grants management positions using varying processes, such as assessing “pain points” as they arise and shifting personnel from other groups within a region to manage grants when necessary. Without developing a documented process that can be consistently applied by EPA offices to collect, analyze, and use workload data to inform FTE allocations, EPA cannot track changes in workload or have assurance that it is allocating grants management resources in an effective and efficient manner,” it said.

It said the EPA largely agreed with its recommendations to address those issues.