EconSys worked with The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), Veteran’s Health Administration (VHA) on its Orthotic and Prosthetic Services (OPS) program. The Government Accountability Office (GAO) had recently released reports identifying several issues that OPS needed to address to better meet the needs of the Veteran population it serves. EconSys’ study analyzed the current demand for OPS in the VA workforce and evaluated where gaps might exist, both today and in the future. We also reviewed the program outcomes and the overall cost structure, ultimately providing several recommendations.
Federal agencies rely on long term projections and workforce planning exercises to determine how best to adjust for both current and future needs.
Effective workforce planning is an important component of federal HR – allowing specialists to better understand their hiring needs both now and up to five years into the future.
Management of human capital in a federal agency requires careful analysis of the workforce. From outside factors that create different demand scenarios to internal factors, like the average age and tenure of the workforce, workforce profile analysis allows you to better understand the impact that different events might have on your future needs.
Workforce planning in federal agencies is limited in many ways by the current resources and technology in place. Agencies need to measure not only retirement and quit rates, but the impact of key factors on those rates, projections for workforce demand over a multi-year period, the productivity rate of the current workforce, and the gap between projected needed and current staff based on grade, occupation, and duty station level.
The volume of employees needed to staff any single agency, combined with routine transitions, high retirement eligibility rates, and general turnover present several challenges that federal agency HR specialists need to address.
Forecasting and preparing for shifts in the federal workforce is a recurring challenge faced by federal agencies. Several factors can have a direct influence, including shifts in the retirement rate among the large number of eligible retirees, mandates from the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), or new congressional guidance related to hiring rates and grade distribution. Agencies are constantly reassessing their hiring requirements.
Federal agencies must evaluate several key factors including retirement and quit rates, to determine how best to map the size, scope, and composition of their workforce requirements over the course of three-to-five years. The hiring that happens today will influence the makeup of an agency for many years to come. As such, agencies need to rigorously determine how best to build a workforce that will support their future needs.