We study human resource management issues and policies that have a critical
effect on the Federal civil service. These studies are prompted by analyses of
personnel trends, the findings from oversight reviews of agencies, and by such
stakeholders as the Congress and other interested parties. Following are studies
conducted in 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000, and 2001.
A Work in
Progress: Openness in the Employment Process II
This study is a follow-up to our Opportunity Lost study, which examined the
extent to which Federal agencies were meeting their obligation to publicly
announce FY 1997 vacancies. This study reports a statistically valid estimate
for vacancies filled in FY 1999 and finds that notable improvement has
occurred since the first study. However, since the study finds that only 76
percent of vacancies are announced as required, agencies and OPM still have
work to do to achieve full public notice. The report discusses the common
reasons cited by agencies for failure to announce and includes recommendations
to improve compliance. The field work for this special study was conducted by
OPM's Chicago Oversight Division.
Telework Works: A Compendium of Success Stories
This report showcases examples of telework success stories from a variety of jobs and work situations. The Office of Personnel Management undertook this study in recognition of its leadership role to encourage agencies to expand their telework programs. Since its inception in 1990 as a Federal pilot project, telework, also known as telecommuting and flexiplace, has become an important tool in the array of work/life programs. Its original goals were to save energy, improve air quality, reduce congestion and stress on our roads and bridges, and enhance the quality of family-friendly and other initiatives for Federal workers. This compendium includes examples of employees who have formal agreements to work at least one day per week away from the traditional office. The willingness of supervisors to step away from the long-standing model of the workplace as the central point where employees assemble to get their work done is crucial to a successful telework experience. Equally critical are a motivated, self-starting employee who can work independently and a clear set of agreed upon performance expectations. The field work for this special study was completed by OPM's Philadelphia Oversight Division.
Veterans: Getting Their Preference?
This report describes a study conducted to determine whether Federal agencies fully and fairly considered veterans' preference eligibles in their hiring decisions under delegated examining during Fiscal Year 1999, and to ensure that staffing flexibilities were not being systematically misued to intentionally avoid hiring veterans. The report concludes that veterans continue to be an important source of highly qualified candidates for Federal employment. Federal agencies are appropriately administering entitlement to veterans' preference under title 5, United States Code. They are fully and fairly considering veterans' preference eligibles in their hiring decisions and are not misusing staffing flexibilities to intentionally avoid hiring veterans. No substantive changes are needed in the current delegated examining process to ensure full and fair consideration of veterans.
Supervisors in the Federal Government: A Wake-Up Call
We conducted the study to assess the status of current efforts in Federal agencies to identify, select, develop, and evaluate first-level supervisors. In brief, we found that: (1) agencies need to do a better job of selecting and developing first-level supervisors; (2) most agencies still do not identify employees with supervisory potential and develop them for future leadership positions; (3) supervisors believe that leadership development is given a low priority; and, (4) supervisors take issue with the way their performance is evaluated. They feel that the ability to get work done through people should be given more weight. This study should serve as a wake-up call for agencies to take immediate action to address a serious problem that has the potential to worsen. Agencies must make the selection and development of first-level supervisors a top human resource management priority.
Federal Benefits Counseling: Putting the Pieces Together finds that benefits counselors believe that the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) and other agencies provide enough information to counsel employees. They also say there is not enough time to keep up with all the information they receive. This is true even though counselors see the OPM web site as an invaluable user-friendly resource. The study also finds that, while employees are satisfied overall with the benefits information their agencies provide, they also need more information in particular areas, including retirement benefits, financial planning, and Social Security. In addition, employees want pre-retirement seminars earlier in their careers. The report commits OPM to improving benefits counselor training and marketing benefits counseling tools. Also, the report recommends that agencies ensure that benefits counselors receive sufficient training and that supervisors have necessary resources to answer basic questions. OPM will implement those activities that are within our control. For others, we need agency support and encourage agencies to implement the recommendations that will improve agency benefits counseling efforts.
Achieving a Balance: Meeting Work and Family
Obligations describes work and family workplace arrangements
available to Federal employees. Data was gathered during OPM oversight
evaluations conducted from May 1998 through September 1999. The study notes
that family-friendly programs are available at most Federal agency locations.
At these sites, employees and managers are familiar with available programs
and supportive of their use. However, the report does note the need for
supervisor and manager training that would help address the need for consistent
application of flexibilities across the agency and for improved measurement
and feedback on program effectiveness. The report also offers recommendations
to enhance the Federal Government's strong work and family efforts.
Incentive Awards - The
Changing Face of Performance Recognition
In 1995, OPM issued changes to the incentive award regulations designed
to give agencies more flexibility in tailoring award programs to their
particular situations and needs. When OPM reviewed agency award programs
in 15 agencies in FY 1996 and FY1997, we found that a number of agencies
were on the verge of implementing changes based on the 1995 regulations
(see our 1998 Report of a Special Study on Incentive
Awards). This report is based on a followup review at the same 15
agencies. We describe in some detail the changes they have made to date
and their assessment of the results of those changes.
The Three Rs: Lessons Learned from
Recruitment, Retention, and Relocation Incentives confirmed
that use of the 3Rs has grown slowly since the incentives became available
in 1991, but is experiencing significant recent increases. Limited resources
and high approval levels deter greater use. When used, the 3Rs are considered
by agency users to be highly beneficial in attracting and retaining employees,
particularly when used in conjunction with other monetary and non-monetary human
resource management flexibilities. The report contains a number of recommendations
for agencies and OPM to increase awareness of the 3Rs, to streamline their use,
and to assess their overall effectiveness. OPM is taking steps to increase
governmentwide awareness, identify changes in law or regulation to make the
incentives more useful, and help agencies assess results to improve strategic
use of the 3Rs in their workforce planning and recruitment.
Strategic Human Resources
Management: Aligning with the Mission details the progress
Federal agencies have made in aligning human resources management with the
agency mission. Alignment of HRM to the organizational mission is the
highest level an agency can attain in HRM accountability. Even the most
effective, legally compliant HR programs cannot ultimately be successful
if they do not support the goals of the organization. Research into practices
at over 30 Federal agencies indicates that deliberate alignment of HR with
the agency mission is much less rare than it once was. But has HR truly
become a strategic partner with top agency management?
Opportunity Lost: Openness
in the Employment Process reports a statistically valid
estimate of the extent to which federal agencies are complying with their
obligation to provide public information on available Federal job vacancies
in order to achieve fair and open competition. The report identifies a
substantial deficiency in governmentwide compliance, discusses the common
reasons cited by agencies for their actions, and includes recommendations
to achieve full public notice.
Occupation in Transition is a three-part study of the changes
affecting the Human Resources community. Using data from the Central Personnel
Data File (CPDF), Part 1, Federal Human Resources Employment Trends,
lays the groundwork by establishing a current statistical profile and
identifying trends that affect the Human Resources profession. Part 2,
Looking to the Future: Human Resources Competencies, explores the issue
of competencies and competency models as they relate to the Human Resource
function. Part 3, The HR Workforce: Meeting the Challenge of Change,
presents the results of original research on the competencies that are
required and those currently held by the Federal Human Resources workforce.
The report also identifies ways to address competency gaps and transform
the Human Resources function to a strategic partner in ensuring organizational
Incentive Awards Study
summarizes the results of a two-year review of incentive awards programs
in 15 agencies and focuses on assessing the extent to which agencies'
incentive awards programs are operating in accordance with Merit System
Principles. This report was shared by letter with those agencies who were
involved in the study.
Poor Performers in Government:
A Quest for the True Story reports a first-time ever (statistically
valid) estimate of the size of the "poor performer problem" in
the Federal Government. In addition, the study provides first-hand accounts
of supervisors who have actually taken official action against a poor performer,
and it looks at the non-Federal workplace for indicators of the scope of
the poor performer problem there. Based on this new information, the study
draws conclusions and make recommendations that will help improve the
Government's approach to performance management.
Non-Technical Training assesses whether agencies are adhering to
legal appropriateness criteria in conducting non-technical training.
The study was prompted by congressional concern about such training.
- Administration Laboratory Site Study shows that a modest and
intelligent investment in workers compensation program administration can
reap tremendous benefits and savings. In several of the test sites
reviewed, over $3 million was saved at only marginal expense. A broader
application of these "lessons learned" across government could produce savings
totaling several hundred million dollars a year.
Human Resources Management Policies
and Practices in Title 5-Exempt Organizations describes how
agencies, or parts of agencies, that are exempt from the regular civil service
laws of title 5 operate their staffing, compensation, performance management,
awards, benefits, family-friendly, training, employee protection, and labor
relations programs. The study also describes their Human Resoures Management
(HRM) innovations and the extent to which these agencies conform the HRM practices
to the merit systems principles.
Downsizing In the Federal
Government: describes how a cross section of Federal agencies
planned and carried out downsizing during the period 1994 through 1996
and the results achieved in terms of impact on their workforce, organizations,