OMB orders agencies to submit plans for flattening management

The Office of Management and Budget wants to know how many employees each federal manager oversees. The supervisor-to-staff ratio is one piece of information that OMB asked for this week as part of a Bush administration effort to eliminate 40,000 federal management positions. "Each agency is asked to prepare a restructuring plan based upon a workforce analysis to make the government more citizen-centered by, as appropriate, deploying resources to direct service delivery positions that interact with citizens and using workforce planning to flatten the federal hierarchy, increase the span of control, reduce the time it takes to make decisions and reduce the number of layers in government," OMB Director Mitch Daniels said in a May 8 bulletin to agency chiefs. As the first step in the de-layering effort, agencies must submit a workforce analysis to OMB by June 29. The analyses must identify every federal supervisor and manager by occupational title, grade level, geographic location and supervisor-to-staff ratio. The analyses must also include overall workforce demographics, expected attrition rates and an evaluation of the current workforce's skills. The analyses should also take into consideration the effects of expected changes in agencies' missions and goals, the introduction of technology and the shift toward contracting out, Daniels said. After agency leaders complete the workforce analyses, they must begin work on restructuring plans as part of their fiscal 2003 budget submissions. Daniels' bulletin orders agency chiefs to "develop a five-year plan to identify the specific organizational changes the agency is proposing to: reduce the number of managers, reduce organizational layers, reduce the time it takes to make decisions, increase the span of control" and put more federal workers in direct contact with the public. Daniels' order applies to every agency with more than 100 full-time-equivalent employees. OMB is asking for too much data on federal managers and the workforce at one time, said John Kamensky, former deputy director for the Clinton administration's reinventing government effort. "This is a vast, vast data call," said Kamensky, who is now senior researcher for the PricewaterhouseCoopers Endowment for the Business of Government. "It's data overload." Didier Trinh, legislative director for the Federal Managers Association, said he was encouraged that OMB is asking agencies to do workforce analyses rather than ordering them to cut an arbitrary number of positions. President Bush proposed during his campaign to eliminate 40,000 management positions through attrition. "Where does that number come from? I don't think there was a whole lot of analysis done in coming up with that," Trinh said. "It's taking a number out of the air as we did in the previous decade." Trinh said agency leaders should be allowed to make workforce planning decisions on their own, looking at their missions and how many people they need to achieve their goals. "You can't have a one-size-fits-all de-layering process for the entire federal government," Trinh said. The managers' group is trying to arrange a meeting with Daniels to discuss the Bush administration's management plans.
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