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FHWA’s Workforce Planning Processes Generally Align With Best Practices, but Some Components Are Inconsistently Implemented or Lack MAP-21 Consideration

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FHWA maintains a workforce of about 2,900 staff widely distributed across headquarters offices, 52 division offices, and other field offices across the country. In recent years, Congress and the Administration have called on Federal agencies to improve accountability in their operations and ensure efficient use of resources, including their workforces. The Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act (MAP-21) also established new requirements for FHWA. Given these requirements and growing demands on FHWA’s workforce, we reviewed FHWA’s processes for assessing its workforce needs.

FHWA’s workforce planning processes generally align with best practices identified by the Government Accountability Office (GAO). However, FHWA’s individual offices were inconsistent in how they prepared workforce plans, which are key to effective planning as most of FHWA’s employees are widely dispersed throughout the country. FHWA’s offices also did not consistently interpret employee survey results—critical tools to identify and address workforce and human resource issues. In addition, despite the significant changes MAP-21 brought to FHWA’s programmatic structure and requirements, such as program consolidations, FHWA has not conducted a comprehensive assessment of MAP-21’s impact on its workforce. Without further actions to ensure consistency and assess MAP-21’s impact, FHWA has less assurance that it has assessed workforce gaps at all levels and identified plans to address them.

We made four recommendations to help FHWA improve individual office workforce plans, promote consistent interpretation of employee survey results, and evaluate the impact of MAP-21 on its workforce. FHWA concurred with two recommendations and partially concurred with the remaining two. FHWA provided appropriate planned actions and timeframes for all but one recommendation, for which we are requesting additional information.