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BUDGET REQUEST CRITICAL TO SUSTAINING
EXISTING LEVEL OF SERVICE TO THE CONGRESS
The resources we are requesting for fiscal year 2002 are critical to addressing our human capital and information technology challenges and ensuring our ability to effectively meet the increasing congressional requests for GAO services. We have reached a point that if sufficient funding is not received to address these issues and properly support our staff, we will need to take actions that will negatively impact our service and responsiveness to the Congress.
Congressional demand for GAO services continues to increase. For example, as illustrated below, the number of engagements begun as a result of a congressional request has increased during the past 4 years. These numbers do not include hundreds of other requests that had not yet been started.
We have worked hard over the past 3 years with available resources to significantly increase our productivity levels to successfully meet increasing congressional demand. For example, we realigned our organization, reengineered many of our business processes, retooled our engagement and risk management practices, revised our performance appraisal and recognition systems, and updated our information technology infrastructure. However, we have reached a point that significant additional productivity gains are unlikely without sufficient funding to further enhance our human capital and information technology programs.
We are concerned about our ability to continue to increase our productivity levels, sustain our return on investment, and meet future congressional demands given the recent trend in our funding levels. Since becoming the Comptroller General at the beginning of fiscal year 1999, I have not asked for any increase in our targeted 3,275 full-time equivalent staffing level. I have
only requested the funding necessary to properly maintain and support this staffing level and cover mandatory expenses, including inflation and compensation costs. However, as ilustrated in the following graphic, the funding GAO received has been significantly less than what we requested and needed to support our targeted staffing level.
In order to cover our mandatory expenses during the past 3 years, we had to staff well below our targeted staffing level, as illustrated on the following page, and delayed or made reduced investments in important human capical me mornacon techncicgy mcaves. As a result of these funding shortfalls and the mandated finding reductions in the mid-1990s, our training and performance-based recognition and rewards programs are not where they need to be. Consequently, we are at a competive disadvantage with the executive branch in some areas, such as performance rewards. In addition, we have some management nformation systems that me obsolete and incapable of starting within our network environment and a variety of software that needs to be upgraded to ensure continued vendor maintenance and support. We cannot continue down this pact. We have reached the point at which investments in these critical programs and other areas must be made in order to effectively support our staff and provide the hush level of service expected and required by the Congress.
The funds we are requesting are critical to addressing our succession planning challenges and enhancing the knowledge, skills, and abilities of our workforce. A large percentage of our workforce will become eligible for retirement within the next 5 years. More than 35 percent of our analysts and 50 percent of our senior executives will be retirement eligible within that time period. We need to aggressively continue our efforts to hire new staff, develop existing staff, and otherwise build the future GAO. In order to be competitive in attracting, hiring, and retaining high caliber and talented staff, we need to be able to further enhance our human capital programs. Thus, the funding we are requesting for training, performance-based recognition and compensation programs, education loan repayments, mass transit subsidy allowance, and enabling technology is critical. Without such funding, we will not be competitive in attracting and retaining the best, brightest, and expertise needed to effectively serve the Congress in addressing the complex, controversial, and multidimensional issues and challenges it faces each year.
If the funding trend of the past 3 years is continued, we will need to restrict our work to only responding to requests from committees and subcommittees, thus severely limiting-and potentially eliminating-work done for individual members. Such a restriction also would further reduce the limited flexibility we have to research and develop expertise on emerging issues, thereby limiting our ability to respond to the Congress when related issues arise on short notice. For example, were it not for the advance research and development work we had done on computer security, China, the World Trade Organization, and last year's presidential election issues, we would have been unable to be responsive to the congressional requests and public debates on these real time, event driven issues. We need sufficient funding to build and ensure we have the capacity and expertise to address such emerging issues on short notice in the future.
Fiscal year 2000 was a remendous year of accomplishment and achievement for GAO – a year of great service to the Congress and off great benefit the American taxpayer. We have made significant progress in addressing many of the areas in need of improvement in GAO and need to continue these efforts. The resources we are requesting for fiscal year 2002 are critical to sustaining our high-level of performance and service to the Congress. We are the nation's and possibly the world's leading accountability organcanon. We need these additional resources to continue our efforts to further strengter GAO and be a model organization for the rest of the federal government and accountability organizations around the world. In addition, given GAO's impressive results and return on investment, it only makes sense for GAO to receive resource allocations that are well above average for other federal entries. To do otherwise would send a troubling message to GAO's employees, the press, and the public.
We look forward to your continued support and working even more closely with you and your staff this year and in fiscal year 2002. This concludes my statement. I would be pleased to respond to any questions that the Members of the Subcommittee may have.
Mr. TAYLOR. We will go directly to questions, with your agreement. During the past 5 years, we have reduced the GAO personnel more than 25 percent. Your budget request has an increase of 125 FTEs. Please tell the committee why you need such an increase and how will those new FTEs be assigned throughout the agency?
Mr. WALKER. First, our head count is roughly 40 percent below what it was in 1992. We are requesting funding at our full targeted level, which is 3,275 FTEs. We are currently about 125 below that number. We would allocate the additional FTEs into the areas that would support our strategic plan, areas where we have the greatest supply and demand imbalances such as health care; education, workforce, and income security; information technology; and financial markets and community investment.
Everything that we are doing is being tied back to our strategic plan and to where we are getting the most demand from the Congress. As you know, demand far exceeds supply, so this is one means that can provide more equilibrium in that regard.
Mr. TAYLOR. On the question of asbestos abatement, I have only been on this subcommittee since 1993, but it seems like the asbestos abatement has been a question for the entire time. Is there any end in sight in the asbestos abatement program?
Mr. WALKER. If we can get the funding, the answer is definitely yes. I will turn it over to Dick Brown, who can bring you up to date on where we stand on it.
Mr. BROWN. We have completed asbestos removal from almost the entire building. As you may recall, all of the duct work in the GAO building was made of asbestos instead of metal. We had 35 miles of asbestos duct work that carried the air. All of it was removed except for that remaining on the west half of the sixth floor. So we have half of one floor left to go. With the funding that we have requested in 2002, we should be able to complete that floor. Mr. WALKER. As you know, Mr. Chairman, we have seven floors in our building. So this would complete the task.
TRUTH IN REGULATING ACT
Mr. TAYLOR. Good. You are requesting $5.2 million to fund the Truth in Regulating Act. Would you provide the committee with an idea as to your plan for implementing your responsibilities under this act?
Mr. WALKER. Sure. As you know, Mr. Chairman, the Congress last year passed the Truth in Regulating Act, but in order for it to be operational, it also expressly provided that there had to be a separate appropriation to fund those activities. We are engaging in preliminary planning as to what type of skills and knowledge we would need to do that work. Some of these we already have within GAO. We do, however, anticipate that should the Congress decide to fund TIRA that we would want to end up adding a few additional staff, including one individual who would be specifically re