In the United States, legislation has been recently introduced to address these human capital concerns in the federal workforce. On June 20, 2002, the Federal Workforce Improvement Act of 2002 was introduced by Senator Voinovich and others. Per the Public Hearings of The National Commission on the Public Service on July 18, 2002, at the Brookings Institution in Washington, D.C., Senator Voinovich discussed the main provisions of the bill, namely:
Mandate chief human capital officers at all federal agencies to raise the institutional profile of human capital and better integrate agencies' workforce management with agency mission.
Require the Office of Personnel Management to design a set of systems, including metrics for assessing agency's human capital management, and require agencies to include human capital strategic planning in their Government Performance and Results Acts (GPRA) report.
Codify the Human Resources Management Council as the chief human capital officers council, an interagency advisory and coordinating working group, in order to share human capital best practices.
Improve hiring procedures by authorizing agencies to use category ranking systems, based on an applicant's skills and experience.
Authorize the use of voluntary separation incentive pay of up to $25,000 and voluntary early retirement in executive and judicial branch agencies for the purpose of workforce shaping.
Offer agencies new flexibility in the use of relocation and retention bonuses, tools that can make a real difference in recruiting and retaining top candidates.
Require agencies to link training activities with performance plans, appoint training officers to institute and oversee comprehensive management succession programs to develop future leaders, and provide special training to managers to deal with poor performers.
Lift the current statutory restriction on payment for academic training.
Offer better leave provisions for new federal employees hired at the mid-career level with several years of outside experience.
Simplify and streamline the process for implementing management demonstration projects (i.e., to encourage agencies to experiment with new personnel systems). Lift the caps on the number of employees per project and the number of projects permitted at any given time. Extend the demonstration period from five to ten years.
In the same Public Hearing on July 18, 2002, Representative Connie Morella (who has been a strong supporter of addressing the human capital problems in the federal workforce and introduced the Human Capital Bill HR 4580 in the U.S. House of Representatives) mentioned that recruitment and training are especially important factors in resolving the human capital crisis. According to Representative Morella, only 29 percent of nonfederal workers say they are well informed about federal government opportunities, and only 21 percent of college graduates polled in a survey recall a federal recruiter ever visiting their campus (http://www.brook.edu/comm/transcripts/20020718.pdf). Representative Morella also discussed the effects of downsizing and outsourcing in the government:
At the Social Security Administration between 1982 and 2001, the number of employees in regional and field offices, telephone service centers, and program service centers fell by 28 percent. The number of managers and supervisors in those frontline offices was cut in half. More than 90 percent of almost 2,200 Social Security Administration field managers surveyed said that management and staff cuts have seriously harmed its ability to manage itself and deliver high quality services to citizens. At the same time, the agency's workload is skyrocketing. The errors occurring now, such as overpaying, are a direct result of the agency cutting layers of manager and supervisors without changing business processes and practices. (http://www.brook.edu/comm/transcripts/20020718.pdf)
Representative Morella is not saying that downsizing should not be done in the federal government; rather, she strongly suggests that there should be a clear plan, policy, and strategy for any personnel cuts. Morella suggests revamping the federal pay system to possibly develop a pay-sharing system that would reward units as opposed to individuals and enhance teamwork and recognition within federal agencies for successful work. Here many of the basic tenets of knowledge management and knowledge sharing are being promoted.
Certainly, it seems clear that a human capital strategy needs to be developed for each federal agency. There are many challenges ahead to resolve the human capital crisis in the federal workforce. The next chapter will help by describing a methodology and model for building such a human capital strategy.