Proposed Legislation to Establish a 4-Year Term for the Position of Administrator of General Services

Gao ID: T-GGD-90-11 November 9, 1989

GAO discussed the General Services Administration's (GSA) management capabilities. GAO found that four deficiencies in GSA management posed significant obstacles to its effective management control, including: (1) ineffective leadership because of frequent turnover in political leadership, lack of career executive involvement in the planning process, and lack of attention to developing senior executives' skills and abilities; (2) inconsistent attention to human resources management, which contributed to low morale, high turnover, and insufficient staff development; (3) information problems stemming from outdated information systems and ineffective information management practices; and (4) weak executive performance accountability because of inadequate information and nonspecific performance objectives. GAO also found that: (1) frequent GSA administrator turnover hampered efforts to correct the deficiencies; (2) GSA had 17 changes in its chief executive over 20 years and similar instability among its other executive positions; (3) although proposed legislation would set a fixed 4-year term for the administrator, the term might not be long enough to implement new policies and program changes; (4) the legislation would also fill the Deputy Administrator position from the Senior Executive Service as a career appointment and elevate those positions to levels equal to their central agency peers; and (5) GSA needed to address executive qualifications compensation to alleviate the problems of attracting and retaining well-qualified executives.

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