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Office of Public Affairs
The Office of Public Affairs coordinates GAO's communications with the media and the public. It is the main point of contact between GAO and reporters. In addition, the office prepares the Comptroller General's Monthly List of GAO Reports and Testimony; prepares the GAO Management News, a weekly newsletter for GAO employees; complies Clippings, a daily collection of articles and other published materials relevant to GAO and its ongoing assignments; and specifies media distribution of all GAO reports.
Office of Quality Management
The Office of Quality Management (OQM) provides the initiative, insight, strategy, support, and tools necessary for GAO to continuously improve its operational performance and customer satisfaction and to become an organization in which innovation, teamwork, and respect for each individual are integral to daily operations. Office OQM's roles and responsibilities include: (1) planning and coordinating quality management activities throughout GAO; (2) facilitating communications about quality management activities; (3) supporting the Quality Council, the Design and implementation Team, the Quality Network, Coordinating Executives, and other networking groups involved in continuous improvement efforts; (4) establishing and maintaining a continuous improvement information resource center; and (5) working with the Training Institute to develop and continuously improve an education and training program that supports quality management principles and concepts.
Office of Recruitment
The mission of the Office of Recruitment is to plan, develop, and execute a responsive and innovative program for the acquisition of the human resources needed to implement the functions of GAO. The office serves as the GAO focal point to external organizations, institutions, associations, and applicants on GAO hiring programs, processes, and procedures.
The Office of Recruitment is responsible for coordinating, managing, monitoring, and operating GAO's external hiring programs, and designing new and analyzing/refining existing policy in the employment area to ensure an innovative and responsive external hiring program.
Provides consultative advice and assistance to employees and managers in the areas of pay, staffing, classification and position management, employee relations, performance management and employeemanagement relations. The responsibilities of Personnel also include managing GAO's employee benefits and awards programs, and developing and promulgating personnel regulations, policies and guidance covering the range of GAO's personnel programs. Additionally, Personnel manages GAO's automated payroll/personnel system, administers time and attendance reporting and processing requirements.
Personnel Appeals Board
The GAO Personnel Appeals Board is responsible for considering, deciding and ordering corrective or disciplinary action, as appropriate, in cases involving employee appeals, prohibited personnel practices, prohibited political activities, determinations of collective bargaining units, union elections, unfair labor practices and discrimination. In effect, the Board acts in place of the Merit Systems Protection Board, the Federal Labor Relations Authority and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC),
depending on the type of case. Such a body is necessary because the GAO personnel legislation removes GAO from the purview of these agencies. The Board also has the responsibility for EEO oversight of GAO in the same manner EEOC has EEO oversight of the Executive Agencies.
The Training Institute (TI) is responsible for: (1) establishing agency-wide policies for central and external training/education activities; (2) ensuring that GAO staff are provided training/education opportunities to learn GAO's policies and procedures, audit and evaluation methods, and other skills necessary to fulfill GAO's mission; (3) establishing core and elective curricula for evaluators, executives, administrative, secretarial, and clerical employees; technical specialists, and other employee groups; (4) conducting assessments to identify training needs and evaluating the results of training; (5) keeping abreast of trends and technological advances in the training/education field; (6) efficiently operating facilities, equipment, systems, consultant agreements, and contracts in support of training; (7) representing GAO to the government, private sector, and academic training/education communities; and (8) compiling an annual education report on GAO's compliance with the "yellow book continuing professional education standards and on the status of GAO's training/education activities.
ASBESTOS ABATEMENT PROGRAM
Modernization Program Concept - Asbestos Removal
For the General Accounting Office to be able to avail itself of the latest advances in office technology, the renovation of the HVAC and electrical/telecommunications systems must be completed. This work necessitates disturbing the asbestos contained in the HVAC ductwork, the ceilings, the insulation, and the acoustic materials throughout the building. Virtually all of the horizontal ductwork in the GAO Building is composed of 100 percent asbestos. The concentrations of asbestos in the ceilings, insulation and acoustic materials are also very high. Due to a lack of knowledge, prior renovations have allowed asbestos fibers to settle into carpets, between the layers of interior partitions, onto the plenum surface of ceiling tiles, and inside of HVAC equipment. Because the central HVAC system is being renovated, the horizontal ductwork must be replaced. The placement of the new electrical and telecommunications cables above the suspended ceilings will also disturb the asbestos. Essentially, GAO cannot perform any renovation or maintenance work above the suspended ceiling level without first removing the asbestos, nor can GAO replace carpeting or move partitions without running the risk of disturbing asbestos. In order to ensure the safety and well-being of its employees, and to provide for advances in office technology, GAO is endeavoring to remove all known possible sources of asbestos exposure from the GAO building.
The GAO building was originally constructed to provide large amounts of open interior space for storage of documents. Later adaptation of this open space to workspace resulted in significant misfit of building systems to actual use. Further problems occurred as GAO approached its goal of providing every employee with a personal computer. GAO needs to modify its physical spaces to accommodate emerging office technology. This requires additional air conditioning capacity due to increased office equipment heat loads. The existing HVAC system is original to the building except for an earlier partial replacement. The entire system is being upgraded in capacity to meet anticipated heat loads and will be converted to a more efficient variable air volume system.
In addition to increased air-conditioning capacity, the electrical system must also be upgraded to accommodate the new technology. More independent electrical branch circuits are needed. Cable management systems have to be installed to accommodate new and expanded electrical and telecommunications services. The existing in-floor cable systems cannot be modified to handle the new circuitry and must be replaced by an above-ceiling system.
The upgrading and modernization of building systems and features will provide high quality work space, meet modern office needs, and renew the life expectancy of building components and elements.
Lifesafety improvements are critical to provide both safety for personnel and protection of the building. An automated fire sprinkler system is to be installed throughout the building that will be supervised and monitored electronically. GAO also plans to install an improved fire alarm system, a building-wide security system, and an emergency power system.
As the renovation work is completed, GAO will consolidate selected audit functions which are currently housed in leased space and space assigned by host agencies. Leased space will be released as consolidation takes place and leases expire. The GAO Building will be reconfigured to accommodate this consolidation.
The modernization of the GAO Building is being undertaken to create a safer and more productive work environment for the GAO staff. GAO is firmly committed to supporting higher order organizational objectives of recruiting and retaining quality staff, and firmly believes that a quality workplace is a critical part of any employee compensation and benefit package. Lack of a modernization program in the GAO building will reduce GAO's organizational effectiveness and its ability to serve the Congress.
Renovation of the existing architectural layout will allow GAO to effectively link people and technology, to provide a generic approach to internal space which will allow for future work group changes with fewer building alterations, and to implement improved and productive sharing of information among work groups, major internal organizations, and customers.
MODERNIZATION FUNDING AND SCHEDULE
GSA's original plan for the GAO Building covered removal of asbestos on the 1st, 7th, 1/2 of the 2nd floor and for part of the mechanical equipment. This plan covered only part of the building because the cost for asbestos removal was extremely high in the early 1980's and GSA had to break the project into phases to work within available funding. They planned to spend $15.6M to do this phase of the building. GSA did not consider the demolition and restoration of work space below the ceiling to be a part of their project. GAO therefore added $3M to the GSA Phase I plan to remove old deteriorated carpet, redesign and reconfigure office space, upgrade electrical HVAC systems to meet current load requirements associated with computers and other high tech equipment and to remove handicapped barriers throughout the renovated spaces. GAO was also responsible for the cost of furniture associated with improving the efficiency and function of the renovated spaces.
GSA was in the process of developing a Phase II project plan when GAO took over the custody and control of the GAO Building in October, 1988. After GAO took custody of the GAO Building, GSA stopped work and did not complete the development of the Phase II plan and schedule.
The revised plan currently in use calls for completion of asbestos removal and restoration of the GAO Building by the summer of 2004. Under this plan GAO has required $77.10M to date for: design, demolition and abatement, construction and occupancy of the 1st and 7th floors; design, demolition and abatement, construction of the penthouse; design, demolition and abatement and, construction of 2nd and 4th floors. GAO needs $85M to complete construction and occupancy of the 3rd, 5th and 6th floors (including building systems which are connected to these floors).
The current schedule also reflects BLS's and Treasury's failure to relocate according to GSA's original schedule. As a result, we have had to extend the planned completion of the GAO Building Modernization to 2004.
GAO-WIDE COMPUTER NETWORK
The General Accounting Office is an information-intensive organization. The organization thrives on the timely, efficient, and effective collection and analysis of data, and in the sharing and reporting of that information. Accordingly, GAO is highly dependent on the variety of information technologies that support these processes.
GAO created a Mission Support Project to design and test methods that will optimize information technology in the performance of its work. Its goal is to establish a computer network capability within GAO to enhance communication and improve the accessibility of information, thereby improving both the timeliness and quality of work. This capability is viewed as critical to realizing the full potential for process improvements through our Total Quality Management efforts. A key instrument to realize improvements in our assignment process is the Data Collection and Analysis (DCA) application.
The application, to be used on GAO's local and wide area network, is designed to streamline numerous and frequent tasks, particularly the organization of and access to work papers, the volumes of information that are the "heart" of all GAO audits. Communication and work group collaboration are enhanced due to the easy and immediate access to the assignment information from any place at any time and supervisors will have a better means to review work papers and products and monitor assignment progress.
The application also provides options to simplify and improve assignment processes such as developing an assignment plan, and recording results of interviews and analyses. The on-line access to job files and other data, coupled with search and retrieval capability, will enable staff to conduct more thorough searches and ease the process of locating information for analysis and product development. In addition, the application provides features for creating and organizing work papers, as well as on-line access to GAO guidance, checklists, and forms needed throughout the assignment process.
The application and network are being evaluated on a pilot test basis in two Divisions (HRD and RCED) and one Region (San Francisco) to measure the benefits of both with regard to the timeliness, quality and effectiveness of many tasks associated with the collection, analysis, product development and sharing of information throughout a GAO assignment. Based on preliminary testing, we found that the application and network setting, compared to a stand-alone setting, provides a more efficient work environment and enables better use of staff time.
Although network design and application testing and evaluation will continue for several months, we believe we are now in a position to reasonably estimate the funding needed to complete the pilot in fiscal year 1994 and to implement the network and application GAO-wide during the fiscal years 1995 and 1996.
We have developed a three-year strategy and budget to transition from our predominantly stand-alone environment to a total network environment. Our three-year implementation strategy presumes that a fully developed network with application will exist in the three units participating in the pilot test by the end of fiscal year 1994. Also, the existing network capability in five of GAO's regional offices will be expanded from administrative only to accept mission support tasks; we would add the DCA application to these offices in fiscal year 1995. The remainder of GAO will be phased into the network and application during fiscal years 1995 and 1996.
The above strategy is reflected in GAO's fiscal year 1995 budget submission, which continues the transition from a largely stand-alone based budget to a network based budget. The fiscal year 1995 budget for the network is composed of the following major cost components.