Survey of Personnel Management

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Survey of Personnel Management

Audit Report No. 222
June 15, 1995

INDEX

SUMMARY

OBJECTIVES AND SCOPE

BACKGROUND

SURVEY RESULTS

Training Regulations

Executive and Management Development

Grievance Processing

APPENDIX

SUMMARY

We surveyed personnel management by the Office of Administrative and Personnel Management (OAPM). Our recommendations include: issuing updated regulations for the training program; increasing coverage of government regulations in the executive development program; and revising time frames for grievance processing.

OAPM concurs with our recommendations. Its comments are attached.

OBJECTIVES AND SCOPE

The objectives were to gather information on personnel management to assist in audit planning, and to follow up on prior audit work (Audit No. 167). We interviewed staff in OAPM, the Comptroller's Office, the Office of Personnel Management (OPM), and the regions; reviewed relevant documentation; and researched applicable laws and regulations. The survey was conducted between November 1994 and May 1995, in accordance with generally accepted government auditing standards.

BACKGROUND

Personnel management functions under 5 U.S.C. include recruitment and hiring, position classification, training, and employee relations and benefits. In 1992, the Office of Human Resources Management was combined with the Office of Administrative Services to form the Office of Administrative and Personnel Management. After the merger, staffing was combined with classification, and employee relations was combined with training.

The Classification and Staffing Branch classifies positions, monitors position management, and recruits and hires employees. Employee Relations and Development is responsible for employee appraisal and discipline, ethics regulations, and training.

The Processing and Benefits Branch processes personnel actions and maintains Official Personnel Folders (OPFs), conduct folders, and employee medical files. This branch also implements employee benefit programs such as health and life insurance, Thrift Savings Plan, injury compensation, unemployment compensation, and retirement.

The personnel function is being reinvented under the Administration's National Performance Review (NPR). For example, the Federal Personnel Manual has been eliminated to give agencies more flexibility in their personnel programs. Also, OAPM has been designated and registered with the NPR as a re-invention lab.

SURVEY RESULTS

We found that OAPM has made a number of improvements in its service to the Commission. It has issued new policy and procedures for alternate work schedules; drafted revised merit promotion procedures; implemented a telephone line with recorded information; established an Affirmative Recruitment Task Force to increase recruitment among under-represented minorities; and is implementing a new automated personnel system, the Personnel Resource System. Other improvements have been made to the Upward Mobility Program; the executive, management and supervisory development program; the Thrift Savings Plan; and the annual health benefits fair (recognized as one of the ten best fairs in the area).

We identified several possible additional enhancements, as explained below. These findings generally relate to our follow-up on prior audit work (No. 167).

Training regulations

According to OAPM, it has revised the training program to make it more effective. OAPM designates certain mandatory training (e.g., sexual harassment, HIV). In addition to this training, offices and divisions now receive a training budget. The size of an office's budget is based on its prior training activity and associated funding. Finally, OAPM reserves certain funds for unexpected needs.

The training regulations have not yet been updated to reflect the new procedures. The updated regulations should also provide for periodic evaluations of the results and effects of training, as required by 5 CFR 410.304.

Recommendation A

OAPM should update the Commission's training policy in the POPPS manual (section 410a).

Executive and Management Development

OAPM issued an executive and management development policy in February 1994. Under the policy, executives and managers are to be provided the training they need to be effective. The training includes supervision, conflict resolution, and sexual harassment, among other topics. However, it does not separately cover government regulations, an essential topic for executives and managers.

Recommendation B

OAPM should increase coverage of government regulations (e.g., procurement, budgeting, and personnel) in its executive and management development training programs.

Grievance Processing

We reviewed eight grievance files, representing all grievances from fiscal year 1994 and three out of seven from 1993. In seven cases, processing time frames in POPPS were exceeded. Delays occurred most often between the filing of a formal grievance and selection of a deciding official, and from selection to the final decision. See the Appendix.

The large discrepancies between the established and actual time frames could undermine employee confidence in the grievance system. OAPM believes that the current time frames are not realistic in some cases.

Under 5 CFR 771.204, agencies are required to periodically evaluate their administrative grievance system to ensure it is in compliance with regulations.

Recommendation C

OAPM should review the grievance time frames, and revise them, if appropriate.

Recommendation D

OAPM should periodically evaluate the grievance system, including whether the time frames set by OAPM are being met by its staff.

Appendix

Grievance Processing Time Frames

File Comments
#133 days from event to informal grievance.
  (15 days required per POPPS 6-771.A)
#211 days from decision on informal grievance to filing formal grievance.
 (5 days required per POPPS 6-771.A)
  44 days from appointment of deciding official to final decision.
  (20 days required per POPPS 6-771.A)
#3 8 days from filing of formal grievance to selection of deciding official.
  (5 days required per POPPS 6-771.A)
  27 days from appointment of deciding official to final decision.
  (20 days required per POPPS 6-771.A)
#410 days from decision on informal grievance to filing of formal grievance.
  (5 days required per POPPS 6-771.A)
#512 days from filing of formal grievance to selection of deciding official.
  (5 days required per POPPS 6-771.A)
  42 days from appointment of deciding official to final decision.
  (20 days required per POPPS 6-771.A)
#610 days from filing formal grievance to selection of deciding official.
  (5 days required per POPPS 6-771.A)
#7 31 days from filing formal grievance to selection of deciding official.
  (5 days required per POPPS 6-771.A)