Staffing Levels in the Department of Education

Gao ID: FPCD-81-63 August 5, 1981

GAO was requested to review staffing levels in the Department of Education and in the agencies affected by its establishment. Specifically, it was asked whether: (1) the affected agencies had increased their staffing levels during the 2-year period before Education was established to offset legislatively mandated reductions, (2) agencies that transferred personnel to Education decreased their staffs accordingly, and (3) using full-time equivalent work years as an annual staffing limitation is more effective than end-of-year personnel ceilings.

Congress created Education in October 1979 so that the Federal Government could manage its education functions more efficiently. As a result, the education and health functions of the former Department of Health, Education, and Welfare (HEW) were transferred in May 1980 to Education and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). In addition, some educational functions were transferred from other agencies to Education. Because of the congressional desire to control the size of Education, the Department of Education Organization Act mandated a reduction of 500 full-time equivalent personnel positions by the end of the first fiscal year after Education was established. HEW did increase the staff of its education functions before Education was established. However, these increases were largely court or legislatively mandated. At the time Education was established, HHS reduced its staffing by about the same number that were transferred to Education. Since that time, HHS has increased its staffing due to functional transfers between offices. In addition, Education's plans will more than meet the mandated staffing reduction. GAO believes that using full-time equivalent work years as an annual staffing limitation of the Federal work force is an improvement over the end-of-year personnel ceiling system.

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