GAO Finds Gaps in Agency IT Workforce Planning

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Federal agencies are making progress in assessing and articulating their IT staffing needs, but lag behind on developing strategies to tackle those gaps and keep track of progress in addressing them, according to a report released October 30 by the Government Accountability Office (GAO).

The report – aimed at assessing the implementation of GAO’s Workforce Planning Framework – found that while none of the 24 CFO Act agencies had fully implemented the activities set out in the framework, certain activities had high levels of implementation, while other areas were lacking.

The positives from the report came in the areas of assessing the existing workforce. Most agencies fully or substantially developed competency and staffing requirements, and nearly half fully or substantially assessed gaps in competencies and staffing. Additionally, while many agencies only partially implemented GAO’s recommended course of action, only one agency did not take action on regularly assessing competency and staffing needs.

“The majority of the agencies made significant progress implementing three activities … and in doing so took important steps towards identifying the workforce they need to help them achieve their mission, and the gaps that need to be addressed,” GAO stated.

The report also highlighted strong implementation of GAO’s framework by the Department of Defense, the Small Business Administration, and the Department of Veterans Affairs.

However, the report found weaknesses in certain areas of IT workforce planning. Only one agency fully established and maintained a workforce planning process, no agency fully developed strategies and plans to address competency and staffing gaps, few agencies planned to take advantage of innovative hiring strategies, and few agencies established processes to monitor progress.

“Agencies’ limited implementation of the IT workforce planning activities has been due, in part, to not making IT workforce planning a priority, despite the laws and guidance which have called for them to do so for over 20 years,” GAO stated.

The report laid out recommendations for 18 agencies, and 13 concurred, three did not agree or disagree, one partially agreed, and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission disagreed with the report’s findings.

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