GAO has said that most of its high-priority recommendations related to federal personnel issues remain unaddressed, including those involving use of special hiring and pay authorities as well as longstanding shortages of employees in high-demand occupations.
GAO for example cited a recommendation that OPM assess which special pay authorities—such as incentive payments and other exceptions to standard pay rules—are the most effective in improving employee recruitment and retention and decide how to best use them. It said OPM has collected data from agencies but has not performed the needed analysis.
Similarly, it said that OPM has collected data as GAO recommended on skills gaps across agencies, which GAO said are a factor in 16 of its 35 designated high-risk areas of government overall. But OPM has not conducted an analysis to “predict and address skills gaps in occupations affecting multiple agencies.”
GAO further recommended identifying and expanding the special hiring authorities that are the most effective and eliminating the rest. “OPM has made some progress in this area including by proposing ways to improve hiring by using flexibilities that exist within current authority. However, to fully implement this recommendation, OPM needs to prioritize and follow through on its planned actions to streamline hiring authorities and develop legislative proposals to implement these changes,” it said.
OPM also has made only partial progress on modernizing the federal job classification system, improving performance management and addressing misconduct, GAO said.
GAO’s report was one of a recently issued series on agency compliance with its recommendations. It said that 84 recommendations to OPM from past reports remain open, with three of the 18 deemed high-priority closed within the last year—involving identifying mission-critical occupations, strengthening its IT systems, and implementing solutions to address government-wide personnel challenges.
The new report however adds three recommendations related to strengthening IT security and management as high priority, bringing the number for OPM back to 18.