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and reduce high-grade, supervisory and managerial positions. The criteria to be used for offering early retirements will be based on selected occupational group and series, unit, and performance appraisal average, as consistent with the law. These criteria focus eligibility for early retirement on organizations and skill groups that we do not expect to grow in the future and on adjusting the shape of the organization by encouraging retirements among higher-graded and managerial staff. Individuals not in a group covered by the criteria may apply as volunteers and will be considered on a case-by-case basis, taking into account individual facts and circumstances. Individuals accepting retirement offers will be expected to leave the agency between October 1, 2001-January 3, 2002.
VOLUNTARY SEPARATION INCENTIVE PAYMENTS AND REDUCTIONS-IN-FORCE We also are developing regulations to implement the provisions related to Voluntary Separation Incentive Payments and Reductions-in-Force. We plan to publish these regulations in fiscal year 2002 in order to have them available if needed. Authority to offer separation incentive payments is limited each year to no more than 5 percent of the onboard staff at the beginning of the fiscal year and is available through December 31, 2003. However, due to the high cost to the agency of contributions to the retirement fund for staff receiving a separation incentive payment, we have no immediate plans to exercise this authority.
In addition to permitting the Comptroller General to conduct a reduction-in-force in response to budget reductions, the legislation also permits use of the authority to realign the agency workforce, correct skills imbalances, and reduce high-grade, managerial or supervisory positions. To date this authority has not been used, and we do not anticipate any involuntary layoffs through next fiscal year.
We are required to include in each annual report to the Congress during a 5-year period a review of all actions taken pursuant to this Act relating to buy-outs, voluntary early retirements, and reductions-in-force. We must also submit to the Congress within 3 years a report on the implementation and effectiveness of the Act including any assessment or recommendation of the GAO Personnel Appeals Board or any interested groups or associations representing GAO officers and employees. This report will include our recommendations for continuation of the buy out and early out authorities as well as a summary of the portions of the annual reports required by the Act.
TRAINING REQUIREMENTS Mr. TAYLOR. You have requested $400,000 to the address skill gaps, maximize staff productivity and effectiveness, update your training curriculum, address the organizational and technical needs and provide training to your new staff. What is your per capita training budget and what is the Federal per capita budget?
Mr. WALKER. I will take a stab, Mr. Chairman, and Sallyanne Harper may want to add something. It depends on how you calculate it. If you calculate hard dollar costs, which I generally refer to as out-of-pocket costs, real cash, on that basis we are spending only about $1,000 per person. On the other hand, if you consider the fact that a lot of our training is provided by GAO personnel, through our Performance and Learning Institute, the amount of training costs per capita increases substantially. We are, however, below the benchmark I am familiar with for a professional services organization.
As you know, I came from Arthur Andersen, which is one of the world's leading professional services organization, and I am aware of what they spend on training. We don't spend anywhere near what Arthur Andersen spends per capita on training. Part of our shortfall is that training was one of the casualties of the is one of the first areas that gets cut. We are starting now to replenish that.
I am not sure as to whether or not there are any data on government-wide averages. Sallyanne?
Ms. HARPER. Mr. Chairman, we currently don't have data available on the government-wide averages, but if the committee or you would like us to do work in that area, we would be happy to do So.
Mr. TAYLOR. Thank you.
Mr. WALKER. We would disclose that cost. One of the things we are doing now is providing our requestors a sense as to how many staff days it will take us to do the work, so they can make some judgment as to whether or not they think it is cost-beneficial to have us do it.
Mr. TAYLOR. That is good.
PFP FOR MISSION SUPPORT PERSONNEL
You have requested $581,000 for pay for performance, to convert to a broadbanded pay-for-performance system for mission support staff. Will this be the last contingent of employees to be moved to the pay-for-performance program? Other than financial rewards for employees what are the benefits that GAO has gained as a result of the program?
Mr. WALKER. Well, Mr. Chairman, actually what we want that funding for is to be able to study whether or not we should go to pay-for-performance for additional GAO personnel. In addition to that, we want to update our performance appraisal system for the mission support personnel. As you know, we are in the midst of doing that for our mission personnel. We have broadbanding for the mission personnel, and we do have pay for performance for that segment of the workforce. What we want to do is to be able to update the system for the mission support personnel as to whether and to what extent it would make sense to put them into the payfor-performance category.
Ms. HARPER. Mr. Chairman, we are hoping to have that study completed by the end of this fiscal year. The mission support staff are the last of the GAO staff. Our general counsel's office, as well as our mission staff, are in broad bands. In the mission support area, we don't know if we will be recommending a banded system, but we are looking at proposals moving from longevity as the basis for people receiving their increases to one in which they are rewarded for their actual performance. When we made this switch for the mission staff and for the general counsel's staff, we provided funding so that staff moved from time-in-grade steps to our broadbanded system without loss for time already earned in their former grades. And so that money also would go to support that transition for mission support staff in 2002.
Mr. WALKER. One of the things that has really concerned me recently is that evidently the Federal Government as a whole, under its pay systems, provides that every individual, even if they are at the below expected performance and in some cases unacceptable performance levels, continues to get pay increases mandated by law. This is an area that troubles me. The whole concept of being their skills, knowledge, and performance rather than the passage of time and the rate of inflation is critical to making government more results-oriented and accountable.
So this is an area that is important not only with regard to GAO, but because we are trying to provide other parts of government with a model that they can follow.
Mr. TAYLOR. We have a new item costing $338,000 for security enhancements. What is being provided within this request and what is the estimate of the total security enhancements you might need?
Mr. WALKER. I will let Dick Brown get into the details, but let me just say that one of the things we believe very strongly in is leading by example at GAO. We want to be as good, or better, than every other agency in every category. One of the things we did is our own security examination based upon the standard that is applied to GAO and our building. I might also note that one of our good neighbors is the Washington office of the FBI. They have been deemed to be a higher potential likelihood for targeting activity by terrorist groups, and as a result, we have had to consider that in our security planning; you know, blast protection and things of that nature, which Dick Brown I am sure will be able to cover.
Mr. BROWN. The FBI just recently completed a new building that is next to ours, which is their Washington regional office. After they had finished, there was a study done of the neighborhood and some risk assessment. And as a result of that, they concluded that it would be helpful at a minimum for GAO to be prepared with increased security.
The money that we have requested here is to reinforce the windows in the building against bomb blasts. We are requesting to do one-third of the total number of 1,044 windows in the building, the one-third that is closest to the FBI building this year. Over a period of 3 years there would be a total cost of about $1 million for this project if we reinforce and put mylar on all of the windows in the building.
Mr. DODARO. We had a study done by the Corps of Engineers to do a simulated bomb blast study. And the concern was that the actual glass coming inwards from the windows, should there be an explosion, could cause potentially more damage than the actual damage from the blast structurally. There were other potential structural problems, particularly as it relates to the basement of the building. We have two levels of underground parking, and this funding doesn't address that issue, but we felt that was a cost-beneficial step to take. That is why we are asking for the money, and to do this over a number of years, not all at once. We think it is good risk management protection, given the potential threat.
Mr. TAYLOR. The FBI moved into the building that our district office is in. We consider it a plus. There is no security in place, but you have raised some new questions. I will have to talk with them about it.
Mr. SHERWOOD. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. In your statement, where you get a return of $61 for every $1 invested, I would like to have a private conversation, tell me how I can do that.
As you heard me before and I know your emphasis has been on strengthening information security and how critical that is for all sectors of the Federal Government-but for the record, how secure are GAO's computer systems, and do you have the firewalls in place, and are you satisfied that we can survive tampering and disruption and inappropriate disclosures?
Mr. WALKER. I will start, and ask Gene to provide some additional information. First, our objective is to be as good or better than anyone else in every major area, including information security. We apply the standards to ourselves that we apply to others to make sure that we are practicing what we preach. I think we are in pretty good shape here, but I would ask Gene to add some comments.
Mr. DODARO. We have taken the basic fundamental steps necessary to begin implementing a best practices program and a comprehensive security program for GAO, which includes not only having proper firewalls but, in a lot of cases, awareness training. We have hired an individual to come in and manage our computer security program, to give it more emphasis, so we have a central focal point for the security program. We also have experts, and actually we have a computer lab facility in GAO that we use to do penetration testing of other Federal agencies. So we have our own experts critique our system and give us advice.
But I might add that this is an evolving problem, and just because you have the situation in hand today doesn't necessarily mean you will tomorrow with the enhancement tools that are available to people at relatively low cost-I think you always have to be on your guard. So we are very much aware that this is going to be a continuous challenge and that we are going to have to stay on top of this. And part of our budget request is for additional money to enhance our computer security facilities and make sure we have the latest available tools, which is paramount in this area.
Mr. WALKER. We have had a number of occasions, as many other departments and agencies have, where hackers have tried to penetrate GAO. We have to this point not been successfully penetrated with regard to our internal systems, but we have to be ever vigilant. And because there is an increasing threat, not only to us but to many other government programs, we are seeking to go to the next level as part of this budget request. It is a fairly modest amount of money, quite frankly.
INDEPENDENT AUDIT Mr. SHERWOOD. Precisely because it is a moving target is why it needs so much attention, you know. In your strategic plan for the 21st century, you mentioned that you have established a set of congressional protocols, and in view of the fact that you are our watchdog and investigative arm, maintaining—have everybody know that your integrity and objectivity and independence are above retion such as you have suggested for some other agencies of the government, like an independent review by an independent accounting or auditing firm?
Mr. WALKER. We have two things. First we have an internal review that we do on ourselves, a quality review program. We also have an external review of our financial auditing activities; in other words, our responsibilities for auditing the consolidated financial statements of the U.S. Government, the IRS, the FDIC, the Bureau of Public Debt. That is done periodically, on a rotating basis, typically about every 3 years or so. KPMG Peat Marwick did it the last time, which is a global firm. We are looking to do the same for other aspects of what we do. We are looking to work with other auditor generals in other countries and state auditors to develop a cooperative arrangement whereby nontraditional work that we do can be done by an organization that is qualified to do it. This is something that we are actively pursuing as an enhancement to what we already do.
Mr. DODARO. We also have an annual financial audit done outside public accounting firm. We have had that done for a number of years now. We have received clean opinions on our financial statements. They look at our internal controls. We feel pretty good about that. We also have a 3-person audit advisory committee to the Comptroller General that has three outstanding individuals from outside GAO that the auditors report to. Former IRS Commissioner, Sheldon Cohen, chairs that committee.
Mr. SHERWOOD. Thank you very much. Mr. TAYLOR. Thank you very much, Mr. Walker, and your staff. We appreciate your report and the progress you have made. Thank you.
LEADING BY EXAMPLE
Mr. WALKER. Can I mention one thing in closing, Mr. Chairman, if I can to get it on the record. One of the things that I am sure you appreciate and I believe very strongly in, is something that is talked about in Washington quite a bit but doesn't always happen, and that is matching resources to results. I would respectfully suggest that we would be happy if the Congress decided to move more in that direction to match resources with results. We are proud of our related record.
The second thing that I would like to mention is that one of the things we are trying to do is to lead by example. In order for us to lead by example in some of these areas, whether it be human capital, strategic planning or information security, we need to be able to make some targeted investments. This not only helps us, but frankly it helps others, because they are following us as a model.
To the extent that we can show the way—not that our way is the only way, but it is a way, it is a way forward—I think government as a whole can benefit quite a bit. So thank you
consideration and for your time.
Mr. TAYLOR. You have certainly shown leadership so far in your tenure. We appreciate that.
I have some questions that Mr. Hoyer has submitted to be an