Consulting Services, Employee Training, and TravelGao ID: 115589 June 24, 1981
Three areas of personnel management activities in the Federal Government are of concern to GAO, including the use of consulting services, civilian employee training programs, and employee travel. The concern over the use of consulting services is evidenced by the sheer volume of audit reports issued on the subject during the last 20 years. These reports identified the need for practically every major Federal agency to better manage consulting services. Normally, GAO does not support legislative remedies for problems that should be solved administratively. However, since executive branch agencies have not acted administratively, GAO feels that congressional action is necessary in this instance. When they are being developed, several activities need to be considered in order to insure that employee training programs fulfill the expectations of the participants and sponsors. Planners need to take into consideration the determination of training needs, the development of training curricula, the selection of employees to attend training sessions, and the evaluation of training results. Past studies by GAO have identified several weaknesses in the operation of training programs, including: (1) limited use of effective training needs assessments; (2) inadequate systems for accumulating training costs; (3) ineffective evaluations of training results; and (4) lack of management support for training programs. Ongoing and planned assignments by GAO will examine the full range of activities needed to make training programs effective. The third area of concern is difficult to control because travel is essential to effective administration of any Government program. However, there is widespread belief that travel is an area of waste and inefficiency. Studies have highlighted opportunities to reduce costs and stressed the need to better manage travel. However, efforts by the Office of Management and Budget have not been successful in reducing the unnecessary instances of travel and the resultant costs to the Government. Travel needs to be better managed, and this can be accomplished through better data collection efforts on the reasons for the travel, the methods used for travel, and the appropriateness of the travel to program objectives. In all three areas of concern, GAO does not wish to impose arbitrary limits to funding since the program objectives must also be taken into account.