In findings that could apply to other agencies as well, GAO has called for better information sharing between DoD and Labor on employees drawing injury compensation benefits.
GAO noted that while Labor administers the Federal Employees Compensation Act, individual employing agencies have a role in potentially returning recipients to work, if only on a reduced basis. In 2015, about 90 percent of DoD’s injured workers returned to work within two years of injury, it said.
However, DoD FECA program managers, injury compensation specialists, and liaisons GAO interviewed reported challenges in instances requiring Labor Department action or approval, such as determining whether a potential job is suitable for an individual to return to work, a report said. “In some instances such determinations have taken over a year, which could affect DoD as it must both hold the job unfilled and continue to pay compensation until a decision is made,” it said.
The Labor Department attributed the delays to the amount of information and communication required among the employing agency, the injured employee, Labor, and other parties, such as an employee’s physician.
DoD meanwhile does not monitor that process, meaning it “is not positioned to identify the nature and extent of any problems, make any improvements, or communicate such issues” to Labor, GAO said, adding that DoD agreed with its recommendation to begin doing so.