Placement Programs for Displaced Federal Employees

Gao ID: 125322 October 2, 1984

Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO discussed the federal government's efforts to find new jobs for its displaced employees. Specifically, GAO addressed: (1) Department of Defense (DOD) operation of its Priority Placement Program (PPP); (2) the governmentwide placement program administered by the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) and those operated at the General Services Administration and the Departments of Housing and Urban Development and Health and Human Services; (3) the advantages of establishing a governmentwide program similar to the DOD program; and (4) the impact on placement programs of the proposed OPM changes to reduction in force (RIF) rules. GAO noted that DOD reported that more than a third of those employees who were registered in the PPP in fiscal year 1983 were placed in new jobs. OPM reported that about one-tenth of the employees registered in its two governmentwide programs during the same period were placed in new jobs. There are indications that PPP restrictions at civilian agencies would probably make additional jobs available. GAO believes that the major advantages of establishing a governmentwide program similar to the PPP would be the retention of trained experienced employees and reducing separation costs such as severance pay, lump-sum annual leave payments, and unemployment benefits. However, due to the uncertainties involved in the program, GAO noted that there is no clear cut answer whether a governmentwide program modeled after the PPP should be established. The new OPM RIF regulations would give greater consideration to performance, rather than seniority, in deciding which employees will lose their jobs. OPM and DOD placement officials warn that if the changes are eventually implemented, federal managers may perceive displaced employees as poor performers and this may lessen their confidence in the quality of individuals referred.

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