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Organization of the U.S. General Accounting Office*

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⚫ Does not reflect the multi-phase realignment that will affect GAO's mission, field, and support structure.


GAO is requesting a modest increase in its budget for fiscal year 2001 to maintain its current level of operations, cover inflation and mandatory costs, facilitate realignment of the agency to better serve the Congress, and support a few key initiatives to further strengthen GAO's effectiveness and efficiency. GAO is not requesting any increase to its current authorized level of 3,275 full-time equivalent (FTE) employees.

GAO is requesting $402,918,000 for fiscal year 2001 so that it can continue to assist and support the Congress with its oversight and other responsibilities at a level comparable to or greater than that provided in fiscal year 1999 and planned for fiscal year 2000. In fiscal year 1999, the return on investment (ROI) in GAO was equivalent to $57 for every $1 appropriated to the agency. In addition, GAO's work resulted in or contributed to numerous improvements in the efficiency and effectiveness of government operations and services. For example, through its systematic monitoring and reporting on agencies' progress in preparing their mission critical systems to meet the year 2000 (Y2K) computing challenge, GAO has played a major role in helping to ensure that federal government mission-critical systems are Y2K compliant. GAO has also provided valuable tools and methodology that has helped others in the U.S. and around the world address the Y2K challenge.

During the past year, a number of opportunities to reshape and restructure GAO into a more efficient and effective organization were identified. As outlined below, several key efforts were initiated to make GAO a model federal government organization in all its business practices.


Many of the opportunities to enhance GAO's efficiency, effectiveness, and services to the Congress this past year were the result of the Comptroller General's initial due diligence efforts. For example, before and after his appointment in November 1998, he met with key congressional leaders, members, and staff to obtain their perspectives about GAO and to identify areas in which GAO could strengthen its services. In addition, he examined GAO's human capital profile to identify opportunities to strategically rebalance and strengthen GAO's human capital assets in order to maintain the readiness, flexibility, and productivity envisioned in the statutory mission of GAO and to meet the needs of the Congress both now and into the future. More recently, a survey of all GAO employees was completed, the results of which will be used to identify additional opportunities to strengthen GAO's economy, efficiency and effectiveness.

As a result of these efforts, the Comptroller General initiated a number of activities designed to further strengthen GAO. One of his first initiatives was to establish GAO's core values--accountability, integrity, and reliability. These core values describe what GAO does, how GAO does it, and how GAO wants its work to be received. Through consultation with key congressional leaders, members, and staff, GAO also developed a set of clearly defined, well documented and transparent protocols, intended to be consistently applied in setting priorities, allocating resources, and serving GAO's client-the Congress. GAO plans to begin implementing these protocols in January 2000, to test them throughout the Congress from January through July 2000, and then finalize the protocols by September 2000. In addition, GAO is working with the Congress to craft GAO's first strategic plan for the 21 century, covering fiscal years. 2000 through 2005, as well as an annual performance plan for fiscal year 2001.

The draft strategic plan sets forth GAO's vision of where it needs to focus and develop its resources to effectively serve the Congress over the next 6 years. The plan, which was developed after extensive consultation with congressional members and staff and GAO staff, takes into account that the vast majority of GAO's resources are devoted to responding to requests from Committees and statutory mandates. It also contemplates investing in important discretionary research and development (R&D) work to identify and help the Congress address emerging issues facing the nation and its citizens before they reach crisis proportions. GAO has identified four strategic goals:

Help the Congress and the federal government address current and emerging challenges to the well-being and financial security of the American people;


Help the Congress and the federal government respond to changing threats to national security and the challenges of global interdependence;

Support the transition to a more results-oriented and accountable federal government; and

• Maximize the value of GAO by providing timely, quality service to the Congress while being a model organization for the federal government.

Other key initiatives started during the CG's first year have focused on strengthening GAO's client relations, communications, human capital, information technology, job processes, and organizational alignment. The following is a brief summary highlighting some of the key efforts.

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Client Relations: The Comptroller General initiated a client outreach program to assist GAO and the Congress in understanding how best to meet Congressional needs and use GAO resources and services. During each Congress, GAO plans to meet with Senate and House leadership, all Committee Chairs and Ranking Minority Members, members of our oversight and appropriations committees to obtain feedback needed for updating its strategic plan. In fiscal year 1999, GAO developed a set of protocols, policies and procedures to set resource allocations, guide interactions with the Congress, and ensure GAO accountability to Congress. GAO also plans to develop efficient ways to obtain systematic client feedback from appropriate members and key staff.

Communications: The Comptroller General took numerous steps to strengthen communications throughout the agency. At least once a quarter, the Comptroller General conducted telecasts to all agency staff to discuss GAO's draft strategic plan and congressional protocols; client service; employee survey results; initiatives to enhance the agency's human capital programs, work processes, organizational alignment, information technology; and other areas of interest to the staff. In addition, he directed the establishment of an employee council, representative of all GAO staff, with which he will periodically meet to discuss current and emerging issues of mutual interest and concern. A new employee suggestion program, aimed at improving GAO's performance and accountability, has already led to several recommendations that have enhanced the operations of the agency. World-class organizations like GAO need to tap into the ideas and ingenuity of its staff to continuously improve its economy, efficiency, and effectiveness.

Human Capital: In addition to examining its human capital profile, GAO has begun efforts to strengthen and redesign its performance appraisal system to better assess employee strengths and weaknesses, identify training needs, reward and recognize exceptional performance and deal with any poor performers. This effort began in fiscal year 1999 and will continue over the next 2 years. For fiscal year 1999, the Comptroller General reinforced with managers the need to consistently and accurately apply existing performance standards and provide staff honest and constructive feedback, as well as the staffs' relative ranking among their peers. For fiscal year 2000, the performance standards have been revised to incorporate GAO's core values and strategic goals, update descriptions of performance to better reflect the current nature of the work, and include key concepts of the Comptroller General, such as leadership by example, client service, measurable results, matrix management, open and constructive communication, and balancing people and product considerations. In addition, the agency is in the process of identifying best practices with respect to performance appraisal systems in both the private and public sectors, with a goal of implementing a new performance appraisal system for its evaluators beginning in fiscal year 2001, but no later than fiscal year 2002.

Efforts are underway to develop a skills inventory system that will be used to staff assignments more effectively and identify skill gaps and succession planning needs within the agency. In fiscal year 1999, GAO continued to correct skills gaps and maximize staff productivity and effectiveness through training. In addition, GAO is reviewing and updating its training curriculum to address the organizational, behavioral, and technical needs of both individuals and the agency.

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Information Technology: During fiscal year 1999, GAO replaced obsolete hardware and software agency-wide to help ensure efficiency and effectiveness in its operations and foster productivity. To help assure continuity of its business operations and services to the Congress, GAO focused resources on ensuring that its mission critical systems were Y2K compliant and crafting necessary business continuity and contingency and "Day-One" plans. GAO also took steps to stabilize and improve the responsiveness of its network. GAO also plans to conduct a comprehensive review of its information technology in fiscal year 2000 to identify additional opportunities for increasing GAO's efficiency, effectiveness, and productivity.

Job Processes: Several changes already have been made to GAO's job processes that expand the use of a risk-based approach to managing jobs and products, while reducing administrative burdens and expanding key player involvement in related meetings. For example, two new forums were established for GAO management to review all new requests and the progress of ongoing jobs. An Engagement Acceptance Meeting involving top management was created to review weekly all new congressional requests, mandates, and division proposals for research and development assignments to determine if the work should be done and, based on risk, the appropriate level of Office of Comptroller General (OCG) involvement. Subsequently, biweekly Engagement Review Meetings are held to discuss progress on high/medium risk assignments and upcoming reports. Another initiative that has contributed to enhancing GAO's job processes includes GAO's strategic planning effort that has led to the identification of four strategic goals and 21 related strategic objectives to help GAO better support the Congress as it serves the needs of the American people. Other efforts are underway to further review GAO's job processes with the goal of integrating matrix and other risk-based management principles and increasing GAO's timeliness, efficiency, capacity, flexibility and impact.

Organization Realignment: During fiscal year 1999, the Offices of Policy and the Assistant Comptroller General for Planning and Reporting were merged into an Office of Quality and Risk Management. This new office was established to ensure that GAO's work supports the Congress, to focus additional attention on quality assurance and risk management involving GAO products, and to improve GAO's job processes. In addition, the management of field operations was moved from the Office of the Assistant Comptroller General for Operations to a new Office of Field Operations. This office was created to ensure that GAO's field offices and employees are effectively represented at the executive level and to strengthen field office representation, communication, and participation within the organization.

Other initiatives are underway to focus on realigning GAO's organizational structure and resources to make it more efficient and effective in meeting the needs of the Congress. The first phase based on a variety of due diligence efforts and the draft strategic plan is currently being conducted. Decisions on appropriate realignments are expected to be made in early fiscal year 2000, with implementation of those decisions occurring over time. GAO will implement these realignments within its existing resource levels.


GAO has identified several imbalances within its human capital structure, which it hopes to address through management improvement initiatives rather than by requesting additional FTEs. In order to help accomplish this, GAO is seeking legislative authority that will provide greater flexibility to effectively manage its human capital. This additional flexibility is critical in order to ensure that GAO is in a position to effectively serve the Congress in the future and minimize any related resource needs.

Human Capital Imbalances

GAO's current human capital profile has structure, succession planning, and skills issues that need to be addressed. As illustrated in the following graphic, GAO is sparse at the entry-level and has a bulge at the midlevel. In addition, the development and training of senior executives in key competencies, such as leadership, communications, project supervision and conflict resolution, have remained at a drastically reduced level since fiscal year 1993.

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2FY 1989 includes 20 SES, or .39 percent of all staff; FY 1999 includes 17 SES, or 52 percent of all staff.
'Data as of August 1999

Note: Total SES staff, mission and mission support, represented 2.8 percent and 3.9 percent of all employees in
FY 1989 and FY 1999, respectively.

Succession planning is another major human capital issue that GAO needs to address. Nearly 34 percent of GAO evaluator and related staff will be eligible to retire by the end of fiscal year 2004. More specifically, about 48 percent of GAO's management evaluators and 55 percent of its senior executives will become eligible to retire by that time. Other critical positions, such as attorneys, criminal investigators, and mission support, are also vulnerable. Maintaining proper skills is another issue that needs to be addressed. New technical skills unavailable in needed quantities within the agency, especially actuarial and information technology skills, will be needed to achieve GAO's draft strategic plan objectives for fiscal years 2000-2005 and to effectively assist the Congress in meeting its needs.

Plans to Restructure and Reshape GAO Without Requesting Additional FTEs

With the initiatives already underway, GAO plans to address many of the human capital imbalances identified above without requesting additional FTEs. GAO will begin restructuring and reshaping its organization through attrition and increased hiring at the entry level and in areas requiring specialized skills or expertise. In addition, its strategic planning and organization realignment initiatives will further contribute to repositioning its resources where needed most. Other efforts to enhance GAO's human capital profile include enriching its

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