GAO seeks personnel flexibility, name change

General Accounting Office chief David Walker has proposed legislation that would give the congressional watchdog agency freedom from key personnel restrictions contained in Title 5 of the U.S. Code, and would change the name of the agency to the Government Accountability Office.

The bill would give GAO permanent authority to offer early retirement and buyout incentives to employees. Three years ago, Congress granted GAO temporary authority, lasting until Dec. 31, to offer such incentives. Since then, according to GAO, 78 employees have taken early retirement, nearly all of them high-level supervisors and managers. GAO hasn't offered buyouts under the law, and in a memo to agency employees obtained by Government Executive, Walker said GAO does not "have any plans to do so at this time."

The legislation would also give GAO wide latitude to create a performance-oriented pay system of its own design. Walker has long pushed for Congress to tie federal pay rates across government more closely with employees' performance. "It seems clear that we need to fundamentally re-think our approach to federal pay and develop an approach that places a greater emphasis on a person's knowledge, skills, position and performance rather than the passage of time, the rate of inflation and their geographic location," Walker wrote in a recent letter to Government Executive.

A corollary to the performance-pay provision would modify Title 5 rules regarding the grade and pay of employees who are demoted during workforce restructuring efforts. In his memo, Walker said "GAO employees would not have their basic rate of pay cut under this provision. However, future pay increases would be set consistent with the pay parameters of the person's new position."

In connection with the changes, Walker told employees the agency's name should be changed to the Government Accountability Office "to more accurately reflect the work of the agency as a multi-disciplinary professional services organization rather than an agency that pre-audits government vouchers, as was the case in 1921 when GAO was first created."

Other proposals in the legislation would give GAO greater flexibility in reimbursing employees for relocation expenses, allow the agency to offer experienced candidates for high-level positions increased amounts of annual leave, and authorize the creation of an executive exchange program with private sector organizations.

Stay up-to-date with federal news alerts and analysis — Sign up for GovExec's email newsletters.
Close [ x ] More from GovExec

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Sponsored by G Suite

    Cross-Agency Teamwork, Anytime and Anywhere

    Dan McCrae, director of IT service delivery division, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)

  • Data-Centric Security vs. Database-Level Security

    Database-level encryption had its origins in the 1990s and early 2000s in response to very basic risks which largely revolved around the theft of servers, backup tapes and other physical-layer assets. As noted in Verizon’s 2014, Data Breach Investigations Report (DBIR)1, threats today are far more advanced and dangerous.

  • Sponsored by One Identity

    One Nation Under Guard: Securing User Identities Across State and Local Government

    In 2016, the government can expect even more sophisticated threats on the horizon, making it all the more imperative that agencies enforce proper identity and access management (IAM) practices. In order to better measure the current state of IAM at the state and local level, Government Business Council (GBC) conducted an in-depth research study of state and local employees.

  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    The Next Federal Evolution of Cloud

    This GBC report explains the evolution of cloud computing in federal government, and provides an outlook for the future of the cloud in government IT.

  • Sponsored by LTC Partners, administrators of the Federal Long Term Care Insurance Program

    Approaching the Brink of Federal Retirement

    Approximately 10,000 baby boomers are reaching retirement age per day, and a growing number of federal employees are preparing themselves for the next chapter of their lives. Learn how to tackle the challenges that today's workforce faces in laying the groundwork for a smooth and secure retirement.

  • Sponsored by Hewlett Packard Enterprise

    Cyber Defense 101: Arming the Next Generation of Government Employees

    Read this issue brief to learn about the sector's most potent challenges in the new cyber landscape and how government organizations are building a robust, threat-aware infrastructure

  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    GBC Issue Brief: Cultivating Digital Services in the Federal Landscape

    Read this GBC issue brief to learn more about the current state of digital services in the government, and how key players are pushing enhancements towards a user-centric approach.


When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.