DOT Lacks Data, Oversight, and Strategic Focus Needed to Address Significant Workforce Challenges

January 23, 2013

The Department of Transportation (DOT) lacks sufficient and reliable data to fully identify its acquisition workforce needs and assess progress in addressing shortfalls over time. Over the last 3 years, the Office of the Senior Procurement Executive—the office within the Office of the Secretary of Transportation responsible for department-wide acquisition workforce management—has submitted acquisition workforce plans that reported progress in increasing the size of the workforce and the number of personnel certified to meet education, training, and experience requirements. However, GAO identified data limitations due to a lack of internal controls to maintain, compare, and reconcile the data compiled from DOT’s 11 operating administrations (OA), and determined that the department-level data were not sufficient to assess progress over time. For example, DOT did not maintain the data it used to prepare the 2010 and 2011 plans and in some cases the data were also not available from the OAs. By contrast, GAO obtained the data DOT used to prepare the 2012 plan, compared it with data from the OAs, and interviewed OA officials about the sources and methods they used to report the data. GAO found inconsistencies in how the OAs reported their data that affect the reliability of the department’s aggregate data, but determined that the OA-level data were sufficiently reliable to make observations about staffing challenges and certification shortfalls at the individual OAs. Specifically, GAO found that 4 of the 11 OAs would need to replace 50 percent or more of their contract specialists by the end of fiscal year 2013 to meet staffing targets. In addition, some OAs reported low certification rates for program/project managers and contracting officer’s representatives, which increases the risk of DOT programs not receiving appropriate oversight.

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