HHS is not yet using special recruitment and retention flexibilities available to it for research science positions, GAO has said.
A report said that the department long has had difficulty with staffing medical, science, engineering and other related fields positions–which are critical to subagencies including the NIH, CDC and FDA—in many cases because the salaries HHS is able to offer are not competitive.
As one response, Congress has granted authorities including one enacted in 2016 under which HHS may pay above normal federal employee salary caps to recruit and retain research scientists.
The report said, though, that while HHS has issued rules, it has not yet begun using those authorities because it is still deciding how to divide the authority among its subcomponents. Once those decisions are made, it added, the process could take another six months.