Federal Manager's Daily Report

The FDA has made use of hiring and pay flexibilities but its long-range staffing planning is hampered because the agency has not updated that plan since one covering 2010-2012, the GAO has said.

GAO noted that the 2016 21st Century Cures Act gave the FDA additional flexibilities for recruitment and retention of medical product staff, which the agency has used to “hire and retain staff such as scientists, physicians, and regulatory counsel, for whom pay disparities with the private sector are especially large.”

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The agency also “established a team dedicated to engaging with the scientific community and established a unified branding strategy that emphasizes the agency’s public health mission” and “follows some leading practices for effective workforce planning” such as assessing the skills needed and developing strategies for meeting those needs among medical product staff.

“However, FDA does not have an agency-wide strategic workforce plan to coordinate human capital efforts across the medical product centers, nor does it have performance measures in place to evaluate the effectiveness of its human capital strategies, as called for by leading practices of effective workforce planning,” it said.

Further, the FDA does not have a process to update such a plan, it said, adding that the prior one “was developed under prior leadership and current agency officials were not aware of it. Without an agency-wide strategic workforce plan and a process to keep it up to date, FDA lacks reasonable assurance that actions taken within its individual centers and offices.”

It said the FDA agreed with its recommendations to develop and carry out such a plan including standards to measure the effectiveness of its human capital efforts and to establish an ongoing process to update the plan.

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