The Justice Department continues to struggle with recruiting and retaining employees in positions such as healthcare and cyber-related positions, the Justice IG has said in its annual assessment of major management challenges facing the department.
“As noted in previous years’ reports, healthcare professionals and cyber professionals are highly sought after in the private sector and often receive salaries that cannot be matched with the federal pay scale. As a result, the department must work within existing laws and regulations to provide compensation packages and work-life opportunities to remain competitive with the private sector,” it says.
The IG noted that it “has long expressed concerns” about the Bureau of Prisons’ inability to fill its healthcare positions due to salaries and incentives that are “not competitive with those of the private sector, particularly given the need for the BOP to compensate its employees for the safety and security factors intrinsic to working in a correctional facility . . . The remote locations of many of the BOP’s facilities pose another challenge to the recruitment of medical personnel to the BOP.”
The department’s difficulties in recruiting and retaining cyber professionals also are well documented, it said, adding that GAO recently found that the department was unable to comply with the requirements of the Federal Cybersecurity Workforce Assessment Act of 2015 to identify filled and vacant positions within IT, cybersecurity, and cyber-related functions. “As a result, the department’s ability to identify work roles of critical need and improve workforce planning may be limited,” it said.
It also raised concerns about employee engagement scores as measured by the Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey and support for diversity, where the department ranked 14th out of the 16 largest agencies in the most recent Best Places to Work in government report from the Partnership for Public Service. For example, women account for only 25 percent of the department’s SES cadre and only 16 percent of criminal investigators in its law enforcement components, it said.