Downsizing Stems Growth of Federal Payroll, But Lack of Planning Affects Government Management

(Washington, DC) ? Senate Governmental Affairs Committee Chairman Fred Thompson (R-TN) today released a General Accounting Office (GAO) report explaining the effects of inadequately planned downsizing on federal employees and government management.

The report, entitled Federal Workforce: Payroll and Human Capital Changes During Downsizing, questioned the strategies employed by the Executive Branch in reducing the numbers of federal employees in government agencies.

“This report shows that we’ve gone about downsizing all wrong,” said Chairman Thompson. “You can’t just cut employees randomly and think you’re going to have a better workforce at the end of the day.”

GAO?s report calls for a strong link between human capital planning and agencies? strategic and programmatic approaches to accomplishing their missions. According to GAO, that link did not exist as the Executive Branch went about downsizing its workforce. The report states, “GAO reviews have found that a lack of adequate strategic and workforce planning during initial rounds of downsizing by some agencies may have affected their ability to achieve organizational missions.” The report continued by pointing out that “the loss of critical employees could have been avoided had the agencies done meaningful planning.”

“It?s clear that without downsizing, our federal payroll costs would be much higher than they are today,” explained Chairman Thompson. “But, without proper planning, downsizing may result in much higher costs from waste and mismanagement. The federal government has got to do a better job thinking ahead and making strategic decisions about its workforce.”

The report was prepared at the request of Chairman Thompson and Senator Thad Cochran (R-MS), Chairman of the Subcommittee on International Security, Proliferation and Federal Services who has jurisdiction over issues affecting the federal civil service. The report recommends that Congress, when considering future downsizing legislation, require agencies to prepare strategic buyout plans and submit them to appropriate congressional committees. The report, Federal Workforce: Payroll and Human Capital Changes During Downsizing (Report Number GGD-99-57), can be found on GAO?s website, at

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