Government Has "Human Capital Crisis"

November 13, 2001

The federal government has reduced its workforce by 20 percent since 1993, but recruiting and retaining competent people to work for the federal government is difficult. This has been a concern for years, and the events of Sept. 11 have given it even greater urgency.

A group of scholars, business leaders and government officials recently met at Harvard University's John F. Kennedy School of Government for a brain-storming session to try to identify methods and procedures to solve what they referred to as government's "human capital crisis."

  • One suggestion was changes to civil service law -- designed to streamline the hiring process and provide incentives for workforce restructuring.
  • Another was establishing clearer lines of authority within agencies.
  • Sen. George V. Voinovich (R-Ohio) suggested emergency legislation to enable the federal government to conduct the war on terrorism simultaneously with its other duties.
  • To enable federal workers to understand and take into account costs, human capital experts should be part of agencies' executive teams.

"The federal government is a disaster with how it's organized," commented Comptroller General David Walker, head of the General Accounting Office.

Source: Pamela Ferdinand, "But Do You Want Uncle Sam?" Washington Post, November 12, 2001.

 

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