Long road to usefulness for DOJ's $2M staffing model


A tool the Justice Department acquired in 2011 to decide how to staff its grant-making components has yet not been a factor in budget planning and may not contribute even to fiscal 2015 plans, the Government Accountability Office says.

The three grant-making components of the DOJ--the offices of Justice Programs, Community Oriented Policing Services, and Violence Against Women--accounted for nearly one-tenth of the department's fiscal 2012 budget. They award billions of dollars annually to thousands of grantees, a challenge to administer efficiently.

DOJ spent $2 million on a staffing model for the three components, and a contractor delivered it in May 2011. The model is supposed to help DOJ estimate what resources to request in its budget and see where its skills gaps are.

But the components haven't begun to use their models to prepare budget requests or determine workforce gaps, the GAO says in a report (.pdf) released Dec. 14.

One reason is that the contract didn't include a provision to ensure that the components received technical assistance with the model, and as a result, all three components have had to rely on the contractor's goodwill for help. The Office on Violence Against Women, for example, wasn't able to adjust its model to account for part-time staffers.

Training to use the models has also lagged, as some officials reported dissatisfaction with the user guides the contractor provided, the report says.

In their investigations, auditors found additional problems--such as how the models were a year off in their retirement projections.

They also say the components have focused on updating the baseline data in the models at the expense of plans to analyze the results and apply what they learn to budget requests.

Officials from all three components told auditors they would like to use the models to inform their requests for fiscal 2015. However, they don't have a strategy to get to that point, even though they'll begin to plan for fiscal 2015 in early 2013. Auditors say they'll need to set a timeline and figure out how to coordinate between their human capital and budget offices.

For more:
- download the report, GAO-13-92 (.pdf)

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