Thompson Legislation Gives General Accounting Office New Flexibility in Shaping Workforce

Washington, DC – The President on Friday signed legislation introduced by Senator Fred Thompson (R-TN) to give the General Accounting Office new personnel flexibilities to allow it to shape its workforce to meet 21st century needs. “The government has increasingly had difficulty hiring the right people to do the jobs it needs done,”said Senator Thompson, Chairman of the Committee on Governmental Affairs. “This legislation gives GAO the ability to do that.”

H.R. 4642, companion legislation to a bill introduced by Senator Thompson in May of this year (S.2595), will assist GAO in its efforts to hire and retain the workforce it needs to meet the needs of Congress and assure the economy and efficiency of the government?s operations. The new law will allow GAO to:

Offer voluntary early retirement to selected individual employees for the purposes of realigning the agency?s workforce;

Offer separation payment to employees for realignment purposes;

Appoint and reassign scientific and technical staff to senior-level positions with the same pay, rights, and other attributes as members of the Senior Executive Service; and

Realign GAO?s current workforce by considering factors such as employees? knowledge, skills, and performance without the requirement to focus primarily on employees? length of service. This change would retain current statutory rights for military veterans while allowing GAO to maintain a high quality and diverse workforce.

This legislation addresses growing concerns that the federal government is facing an employment crisis. Reports consistently show that the federal government?s workforce is in trouble. As Comptroller General David Walker said in a recent Government Executive article, “The federal government faces a human capital crisis of significant proportions. The federal workforce is smaller. It is older. It is, in many cases, out of shape and faces serious succession planning and skills imbalance challenges.”

“David Walker says he wants GAO to be the ?model? for the federal government,” said Senator Thompson. “GAO?s experience in using these personnel tools can help us in the Congress evaluate whether these and other reforms would be useful in improving our management of the federal government?s entire workforce.”

The Senate bill, S. 595, was introduced on May 18, 2000, by Senators Thompson and Joseph Lieberman (D-CT). Reps. Dan Burton (IN) and Henry Waxman (CA), Chairman and Ranking Member of the House Government Reform Committee, worked on the legislation in the House.