DOT struggles to define acquisition workforce needs, says GAO

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The Transportation Department lacks the data to properly determine acquisition workforce needs and goals for its operating administrations, which spent more than $5.6 billion on procurement in fiscal 2011, says the Government Accountability Office.

In a Jan. 23 report (.pdf), GAO says DOT acquisition workforce plans have significant limitations in their data due to to a lack of internal controls to maintain, compare and reconcile the data compiled from the department's 11 operating administrations.

The report says the disparate data means there is no clear plan to meet future workforce needs, despite GAO finding that four of the 11 administrations would have to replace 50 percent or more of their contract specialists by the end of fiscal 2013 to manage estimated attrition and meet staff certificaiton requirements.

It notes that the Federal Aviation Administration, which accounted for 63 percent of that $5.6 billion spent, only had 18 percent of its contract representatives certified by the end of fiscal 2011. However, the FAA reports this has risen to 49 percent by the end of fiscal 2012.

The report suggests DOT develop guidance specifically on its workforce planning and oversight requirements, as well as a specific set of rules around data collection and retention. 

Agencies are required to conduct strategic planning to identify short- and long-term needs, but the Office of the Senior Procurement Executive told GAO it currently does not monitor workforce data throughout the year and cannot properly guide planning.

In response to the report, DOT says GAO does not properly represent the current status of its workforce. However, GAO disagreed with the comment since it used the data and methodology DOT uses for the acquisition workforce plan it submits to the Office of Federal Procurement Policy.

For more:
- download the report, GAO-13-117 (.pdf)

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