GAO has given a mixed review of three initiatives in the Trump administration’s government-wide reform plan, saying that while the transfer of background investigation responsibility from OPM to DoD “generally addressed most key reform practices,” addressing the government’s shortage of cybersecurity workers and creating a Government Effectiveness Advanced Research Center with the private sector to develop ways to improve government services remain works in progress.
The OPM-DoD transfer—one of 32 reforms in the plan released in mid-2018—was completed last fall on schedule and officials told GAO that they are now “shifting focus toward addressing GAO’s high-risk area on the government-wide personnel security clearance process.”
Regarding the cyber workforce shortage, GAO credited the lead agencies, OMB and DHS, for leadership commitment and for developing some agency-specific implementation plans and mechanisms to monitor progress. But they “have not established a dedicated implementation team, or a government-wide implementation plan, among other practices. Without these practices in place, OMB and DHS may not be able to monitor implementation activities and determine whether progress is being made toward solving” the shortage.
In particular, GAO said, those agencies have not addressed key practices related to employee engagement such as a “government-wide or project-by-project plan for communicating with and involving employees across the government.” While officials have started collecting data on employees, they “have not interacted with individual employees on specific reform initiatives.”
“We have reported that employee engagement affects attrition, absenteeism, and productivity. Moreover, we have found that failure to adequately address a wide variety of people and cultural issues, including employee engagement, can also lead to unsuccessful change,” it said.
Regarding the GEAR Center, GAO found that OMB is collecting input from the public, academia, and industry for how the center could be structured and ideas for possible research projects. “However, OMB has not yet developed an implementation plan with key milestones and deliverables to track its progress,” it said.