oversight

Architect of the Capitol: Management and Accountability Framework Needed for Organizational Transformation

Published by the Government Accountability Office on 2003-01-17.

Below is a raw (and likely hideous) rendition of the original report. (PDF)

               United States General Accounting Office

GAO            Report to Congressional Requesters




January 2003
               ARCHITECT OF THE
               CAPITOL
               Management and
               Accountability
               Framework Needed
               for Organizational
               Transformation




GAO-03-231
               a
                                                 January 2003



                                                ARCHITECT OF THE CAPITOL

                                                Management and Accountability
Highlights of GAO-03-231, a report to the
Subcommittee on Legislative Branch,
                                                Framework Needed for Organizational
Senate Committee on Appropriations, and
the Subcommittee on Legislative, House
                                                Transformation
Committee on Appropriations




The Office of the Architect of the              AOC is an agency working to transform itself and has planned management
Capitol (AOC) plays an important                improvement efforts, such as a new strategic planning process, to help it make
role in supporting the effective                this transition. GAO found that without AOC establishing a management and
functioning of the Congress and its             accountability framework, it might have difficulty leading and executing its
neighboring institutions. With a                organizational transformation. Leading organizations undergoing
budget of $426 million, AOC is                  transformation efforts draw from the following management and accountability
responsible for the maintenance,                components: (1) demonstrating top leadership commitment to organizational
renovation, and new construction of             transformation, (2) involving key stakeholders in developing an
all buildings and grounds within the            organizationwide strategic plan, (3) using the strategic plan as the foundation
Capitol Hill complex. GAO was                   for aligning activities, core processes, and resources to support mission-related
mandated by the Legislative Branch              outcomes, (4) establishing a communications strategy to foster transformation
Appropriations Act, 2002, to conduct            and create shared expectations and build involvement, (5) developing annual
a comprehensive management                      goals and a system for measuring performance, and (6) managing human
review of AOC’s operations to help              capital and information technology strategically to drive transformation and to
identify improvements in strategic              support the accomplishment of agency goals.
planning, organizational alignment,
and strategic human capital                     To support its transformation initiatives and to cope with shifting environments
management to help AOC better                   and evolving demands and priorities, AOC also should continue to develop its
achieve its mission and to address              management infrastructure and controls. Establishing this management and
long-standing program issues. To                accountability framework and further developing its management
address these objectives, GAO                   infrastructure and controls can also help AOC improve performance in program
reviewed AOC’s legislative authority            areas of long-standing concern to AOC’s employees and congressional
and internal documents, interviewed             stakeholders—worker safety, project management, and recycling.
key AOC officials and senior
managers, and conducted employee                AOC’s mission is to preserve and enhance the Capitol and related
focus groups.
                                                facilities



GAO recommends that AOC
establish a strategic management
and accountability framework,
including strong management
infrastructure and controls, to drive
its agency transformation effort and
to address long-standing program
issues.

AOC generally agreed with our
recommendations and is developing
a plan to implement them.




 www.gao.gov/cgi-bin/getrpt?GAO-03-231

 To view the full report, including the scope
 and methodology, click on the link above.
 For more information, contact J. Christopher
 Mihm at (202) 512-6806 or mihmj@gao.gov.
Contents



Letter                                                                                                1


Executive Summary                                                                                     3
                         Purpose                                                                      3
                         Background                                                                   4
                         Results in Brief                                                             5
                         Principal Findings and Recommendations for Agency Action                     6
                         Matters for Congressional Consideration                                     10
                         Agency Comments                                                             11


Chapter 1                                                                                            12
                         Background                                                                  13
Introduction             Objectives, Scope, and Methodology                                          15


Chapter 2                                                                                            19
                         AOC Needs to Undergo Organizational Transformation                          19
Strategic Management     Conclusions                                                                 35
Framework Needed to      Recommendations for Agency Action                                           36
                         Matters for Congressional Consideration                                     38
Achieve                  Agency Comments                                                             38
Transformation

Chapter 3                                                                                            39
                         Standards for Internal Control Can Provide a Strong Foundation for
Management                  Organizational Transformation                                            40
Infrastructure and       Strengthening Human Capital Policies, Procedures,
                            and Processes                                                            42
Controls Needed to       Continue Improving Financial Management to Support Program
Support Organizational      Management                                                               47
Transformation           AOC Could Benefit from an Agencywide and Disciplined Approach
                            to IT Management                                                         50
Initiatives              Conclusions                                                                 59
                         Recommendations for Agency Action                                           59
                         Agency Comments                                                             62




                         Page i                                      GAO-03-231 Architect of the Capitol
                             Contents




Chapter 4                                                                                                  64
                             AOC’s Worker Safety Efforts Are Substantial, but AOC Needs to
Strategic Management           Develop a Strategic Approach to Achieve a Safer Workplace                   65
Framework Important          Conclusions                                                                   78
                             Recommendations for Agency Action                                             79
for Addressing               AOC Has Identified Best Practices for Project Management, but
Long-standing Worker           Implementation Is Uneven                                                    80
Safety, Project              Conclusions                                                                   93
                             Recommendations for Agency Action                                             93
Management, and              AOC Needs to Build on Current Efforts by Adopting a Strategic
Recycling Issues               Approach to Recycling                                                      94
                             Conclusions                                                                 102
                             Recommendations for Agency Action                                           102
                             Agency Comments                                                             103


Appendixes
              Appendix I:    Employee and Supervisor Focus Groups—Objectives, Scope,
                             and Methodology                                                             104
                             Objectives, Scope, and Methodology                                          104
             Appendix II:    Comments from the Office of the Architect of the Capitol                    116
             Appendix III:   GAO Contacts and Staff Acknowledgements                                     124


Tables                       Table 1: Federal Agencies with the Highest Injury and Illness Rates,
                                      Fiscal Years 1999 through 2001                                       65
                             Table 2: Components of an Effective Safety and Health Program
                                      and How They Are Demonstrated                                        67
                             Table 3: Ten Steps Identified by GSA for Best Administering a
                                      Recycling Program                                                    98


Figures                      Figure 1: Strategic Plan for Aligning AOC’s Activities, Core
                                       Processes, and Resources to Support AOC’s
                                       Mission-Related Outcomes                                            23
                             Figure 2: AOC Workers’ Compensation Payments, Fiscal Years
                                       1997 through 2002                                                   76
                             Figure 3: AOC Annual Appropriations for Capital Projects from
                                       Fiscal Years 1994 through 2003                                      81




                             Page ii                                       GAO-03-231 Architect of the Capitol
Contents




Abbreviations

AOC          Office of the Architect of the Capitol
BCA          building condition assessment
CAA          Congressional Accountability Act of 1995
CFO          chief financial officer
COO          chief operating officer
DOD          Department of Defense
EAC          Employee Advisory Council
EEO          equal employment opportunity
GPRA         Government Performance and Results Act
GSA          General Services Administration
HRMD         Human Resource Management Division
IT           information technology
OAP          Office of Attending Physician
OCODC        Office of the Chief of Design and Construction
OIRM         Office of Information Resource Management
OOC          Office of Compliance
OSHA         Occupational Safety and Health Administration
PHS          Public Health Service
PIC          Project Information Center
PMBOK        A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge
PMI          Project Management Institute

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 permission from GAO. It may contain copyrighted graphics, images or other materials.
 Permission from the copyright holder may be necessary should you wish to reproduce
 copyrighted materials separately from GAO’s product.




Page iii                                               GAO-03-231 Architect of the Capitol
A
United States General Accounting Office
Washington, D.C. 20548



                                    January 17, 2003                                                                 Leter




                                    The Honorable Robert F. Bennett
                                    Chairman
                                    The Honorable Richard J. Durbin
                                    Ranking Minority Member
                                    Subcommittee on Legislative Branch
                                    Committee on Appropriations
                                    United States Senate

                                    The Honorable Jack Kingston
                                    Chairman
                                    The Honorable James P. Moran
                                    Ranking Minority Member
                                    Subcommittee on Legislative
                                    Committee on Appropriations
                                    House of Representatives

                                    In response to the management review of the Office of the Architect of the
                                    Capitol (AOC) mandated by the Legislative Branch Appropriations Act,
                                    2002, this report discusses (1) improvements in strategic planning,
                                    organizational alignment, and strategic human capital management that
                                    would help AOC better achieve its mission and accomplish its strategic
                                    goals, (2) actions that AOC can take in other key areas of its management
                                    infrastructure, such as financial and information technology management,
                                    to improve its performance and better accomplish its goals, and (3) best
                                    practices and specific improvements in three key program areas of long-
                                    standing concern to AOC’s congressional stakeholders and employees—
                                    worker safety, project management, and recycling. This report contains
                                    recommendations to the Architect of the Capitol for establishing a strategic
                                    management and accountability framework, including strong management
                                    infrastructure and controls, to drive its agency transformation effort and to
                                    address long-standing program issues.




                                    Page 1                                         GAO-03-231 Architect of the Capitol
Please call me at (202) 512-6806 if you or your staff members have any
questions concerning this report. Major contributors to this report are
listed in appendix III.




J. Christopher Mihm
Director, Strategic Issues




Page 2                                       GAO-03-231 Architect of the Capitol
Executive Summary



Purpose      The Office of the Architect of the Capitol (AOC) plays an important role in
             supporting the effective functioning of the Congress and its neighboring
             institutions. With a budget of $426 million, AOC is responsible for the
             maintenance, renovation, and new construction of all buildings and
             grounds within the Capitol Hill complex, such as the Capitol building, the
             House and Senate office buildings, the Library of Congress, and the
             Supreme Court. The historic nature and high-profile use of many of these
             buildings creates a complex environment in which to carry out this
             mission. AOC must also perform its duties in an environment that requires
             balancing the divergent needs of congressional leadership, committees,
             individual members of the Congress, congressional staffs, and the visiting
             public. The challenges of operating in this environment were compounded
             by the events of September 11, 2001, and their aftermath, including the
             October 2001 discovery of anthrax bacteria on Capitol Hill, and the
             resulting need for increased security and safety.

             This review was mandated by the Legislative Branch Appropriations Act,
             2002.1 Senate and House Appropriations Committee reports also asked
             GAO to help address certain management shortcomings at AOC that
             needed attention, with a focus on recommending solutions.2 In April 2002,
             at the request of the Subcommittee on Legislative Branch, Senate
             Committee on Appropriations, GAO submitted a statement for the record
             for AOC’s appropriations hearing that outlined its preliminary observations
             on what AOC needed to do to improve its management. This report
             completes GAO’s review. This report discusses (1) improvements in
             strategic planning, organizational alignment, and strategic human capital
             management that would help AOC better achieve its mission and
             accomplish its strategic goals, (2) actions that AOC can take in other key
             areas of its management infrastructure, such as financial and information
             technology management, to improve its performance and better
             accomplish its goals, and (3) best practices and specific improvements in
             three key program areas of long-standing concern to AOC’s employees and
             congressional stakeholders—worker safety, project management, and
             recycling. This report also discusses actions taken to date by AOC and GAO
             recommendations for further enhancements. As mandated by the




             1
              Section 129(d) of Pub. L. No. 107-68, Nov. 12, 2001.
             2
              Sen. Rep. No. 107-37 at 28, 29 (2001) and H.R. Conf. Rep. No. 107-148 at 73 (2001).




             Page 3                                                   GAO-03-231 Architect of the Capitol
             Executive Summary




             Legislative Branch Appropriations Act, 2002, AOC is to develop a
             management improvement plan to address GAO’s recommendations.3



Background   Organizationally, AOC is made up of a centralized staff that performs
             administrative functions and “jurisdictions” that handle their own day-to-
             day operations. These jurisdictions include the Senate Office Buildings, the
             House Office Buildings, the U.S. Capitol Buildings, the Library of Congress
             Buildings and Grounds, the Supreme Court Buildings and Grounds, the
             Capitol Grounds, the Capitol Power Plant, and the U.S. Botanic Garden.
             There are over 2,300 employees in AOC; nearly 1 out of every 3 employees
             is a member of a union. New requirements to meet long-standing labor and
             safety laws have added to the complexity of AOC operations. For example,
             the Congressional Accountability Act of 1995 (CAA) applied 11 civil rights,
             labor, and workplace laws to AOC as well as other legislative branch
             agencies.4 CAA also requires AOC to meet standards set by the
             Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, which applied new life and fire
             safety codes, as well as other building codes, to the agency.

             Across the federal government, fundamental questions are being asked
             about what government does; how it does it; and in some cases, who
             should do the government’s business. The answers to these questions are
             driving agencies to transform their organizational cultures. AOC confronts
             many of these same issues. The experiences of successful major change
             management initiatives in large private and public sector organizations
             suggests that such initiatives can often take at least 5 to 7 years until they
             are fully implemented and the related cultures are transformed in a
             sustainable manner. To achieve such organizational transformation,
             agencies across the government will need to (1) elevate attention on
             management issues and transformation, (2) integrate various key
             management functions and transformation responsibilities, and
             (3) institutionalize accountability for addressing management issues and
             leading transformation.




             3
              Section 129(d) of Pub. L. No. 107-68, Nov. 12, 2001.
             4
              Pub. L. No. 104-1, Jan. 23, 1995.




             Page 4                                                  GAO-03-231 Architect of the Capitol
                   Executive Summary




Results in Brief   AOC has demonstrated a commitment to organizational transformation
                   through the management improvements it has planned and under way, such
                   as commencing a new strategic planning effort that focuses on developing
                   mission-critical goals. To build upon this commitment and achieve the
                   magnitude of change needed, AOC needs to establish a management and
                   accountability framework as the centerpiece of its transformation efforts.
                   This framework includes (1) demonstrating top leadership commitment to
                   organizational transformation, (2) involving key congressional and other
                   stakeholders in developing an AOC-wide strategic plan, (3) using the
                   strategic plan as the foundation for aligning activities, core processes, and
                   resources to support mission-related outcomes, (4) establishing a
                   communications strategy to foster transformation and create shared
                   expectations and build involvement, (5) developing annual goals and a
                   system for measuring performance, and (6) strategically managing AOC’s
                   human capital and information technology to drive transformation and to
                   support the accomplishment of agency goals.

                   To support its transformation initiatives and to cope with shifting
                   environments and evolving demands and priorities, AOC also should
                   continue to develop its management infrastructure and controls in the
                   areas of human capital, financial, and information technology management.
                   Establishing a management and accountability framework and further
                   developing its management infrastructure and controls can also help AOC
                   improve the performance of program areas of long-standing concern to
                   AOC’s employees and congressional stakeholders—worker safety, project
                   management, and recycling.

                   The change under way at AOC will require further long-term and concerted
                   action on the part of AOC, the Congress, and other interested parties.
                   Organizational transformation does not come quickly or easily. However,
                   such transformation is possible through focused efforts and careful and
                   thorough planning. In that regard, GAO makes recommendations to the
                   Architect of the Capitol, and suggests that the Congress consider actions
                   directed at supporting this transformation and improving the strategic and
                   operational management of AOC. In responding to this report, AOC
                   generally agreed with our findings, conclusions, and recommendations.




                   Page 5                                         GAO-03-231 Architect of the Capitol
                         Executive Summary




Principal Findings and
Recommendations for
Agency Action

Strategic Management     AOC has demonstrated a commitment to organizational transformation
Framework Needed to      through the management improvements it has planned and under way. AOC
                         has recently (1) commenced a new strategic planning effort that focuses on
Achieve Transformation
                         developing mission-critical goals, (2) drafted congressional protocols
                         patterned after GAO’s protocols, (3) conducted client surveys in the
                         Capitol, House, Senate, and Library of Congress jurisdictions, and
                         (4) implemented a senior executive performance evaluation system.

                         To better serve the Congress, central AOC management needs to build the
                         capability to define goals, set priorities, ensure follow-through, monitor
                         progress, and establish accountability for results. Therefore, as a first
                         priority, AOC needs to establish a management and accountability
                         framework to help it lead and execute such organizational transformation.
                         This framework includes (1) demonstrating top leadership commitment to
                         organizational transformation, (2) involving key congressional and other
                         stakeholders in developing an AOC-wide strategic plan, (3) using the
                         strategic plan as the foundation for aligning activities, core processes, and
                         resources to support mission-related outcomes, (4) establishing a
                         communications strategy to foster transformation and create shared
                         expectations and build involvement, (5) developing annual goals and a
                         system for measuring performance, and (6) strategically managing AOC’s
                         human capital to support the accomplishment of agency goals.

                         Making such fundamental changes in AOC’s culture will require a long-
                         term, concerted effort. Given the nature and scope of changes needed and
                         under way at AOC, it can demonstrate that progress is being made along
                         the way by establishing action-oriented implementation goals over the long
                         term, and a time line with milestone dates to track the organization’s
                         progress towards those achieving those implementation goals.

                         To implement the management and accountability framework, GAO found
                         that AOC needs to (1) elevate attention on management issues and
                         organizational transformation, (2) integrate various key management and
                         transformation efforts, and (3) institutionalize accountability for
                         addressing management issues and leading organizational transformation.



                         Page 6                                         GAO-03-231 Architect of the Capitol
                            Executive Summary




                            To adopt the elements of the management and accountability framework—
                            strategic planning, organizational alignment, communications,
                            performance measurement, and strategic human capital management—and
                            build on efforts under way at AOC, GAO recommends that the Architect of
                            the Capitol

                            • improve strategic planning and organizational alignment by involving
                              key congressional and other external stakeholders in AOC’s strategic
                              planning efforts and in any organizational changes that may result from
                              these efforts;

                            • develop a comprehensive strategy to improve internal and external
                              communications by completing the development of congressional
                              protocols with stakeholder involvement and continuing to regularly
                              measure customer satisfaction AOC-wide, among other strategies; and

                            • strengthen accountability for results by developing annual goals,
                              measuring performance, and strategically managing human capital to
                              support achieving those goals and measures.

                            The Architect should work with key congressional and other stakeholders
                            to develop this plan.



Management Infrastructure   The effectiveness with which AOC can use the management and
and Controls Needed to      accountability framework—leadership, strategic planning, organizational
                            alignment, communications, performance measurement, and strategic
Support Transformation
                            human capital management—to achieve organizational transformation will
Initiatives                 depend in part on its ability to focus on management improvement in its
                            day-to-day operations. A key factor in helping an agency to better achieve
                            its mission and program outcomes and minimize operational problems is to
                            implement appropriate internal control—or management controls.
                            Effective internal control also helps in managing change to cope with
                            shifting environments and evolving demands and priorities.

                            AOC has recently focused on improving its internal controls in a number of
                            key areas: (1) improved budget formulation and execution processes,
                            (2) begun preparations for producing auditable financial statements, and
                            (3) begun drafting a policy to establish an agencywide approach to
                            information technology management. AOC must continue to assess and
                            evaluate its internal control to assure that the control activities being used




                            Page 7                                         GAO-03-231 Architect of the Capitol
                            Executive Summary




                            are effective and updated when necessary in the areas of human capital,
                            financial, and information technology management.

                            GAO found that AOC will need to further develop and consistently apply
                            transparent human capital policies and procedures in the area of leave,
                            awards, and overtime and examine discrepancies in job classification and
                            pay levels across the agency. AOC must also continue improving its
                            approach to financial management to support effective and efficient
                            program management. For example, it must continue to develop and
                            implement effective budget formulation and execution policies and
                            procedures that govern capital projects and operating activities AOC-wide.
                            Finally, AOC will need to adopt an agencywide approach to information
                            technology management to position itself to optimize the contribution of
                            information technology to agency mission performance.

                            To continue to develop a management infrastructure and strengthen
                            appropriate management controls, GAO recommends that the Architect of
                            the Capitol

                            • strengthen and consistently implement AOC’s human capital policies
                              and procedures, and assess ways in which AOC management could
                              better gather and analyze data on employee relations issues;

                            • continue to improve AOC’s approach to financial management by
                              developing strategies to institutionalize financial management practices
                              that will support budgeting, financial, and program management at AOC;
                              and

                            • adopt an agencywide approach to information technology management
                              by establishing appropriate leadership and developing the policies,
                              procedures, and tools needed to effectively and efficiently manage
                              information technology resources across the agency.



Strategic Management        The need for AOC to put in place the management and accountability
Framework Important for     framework for organizational transformation, and the management
                            infrastructure of financial, information technology, and other controls that
Addressing Long-standing
                            support the transformation, cuts across the agency’s programs and
Worker Safety, Project      influences its performance in all areas critical to achieving its mission.
Management, and Recycling   Improvements in these areas can also contribute to improving the
Program Issues              performance of program areas of long-standing concern to AOC’s




                            Page 8                                        GAO-03-231 Architect of the Capitol
Executive Summary




employees and congressional stakeholders—worker safety, project
management, and recycling.

AOC has made recent progress in all these areas. For example, AOC has
(1) drafted a workplace safety and health master plan, (2) consulted with
experts on how to structure its request for proposals for developing a long-
term master plan for the Capitol Hill complex, and (3) improved recycling
program coordination and client outreach.

However, significant opportunities exist to build on this progress to bring
about lasting performance improvements. For example, the Architect has
declared that safety is the agency’s number one priority and established a
target for reducing injuries. Nonetheless, relating safety to other pressing
priorities and developing a clear strategy for how working safely will
become the cultural norm, is still a work in progress at AOC. Similarly, AOC
has adopted industry best practices for project management, but
implementation is uneven and would benefit from stronger leadership and
improvements in performance and financial management, priority setting,
communication, and strategic management of human capital. Finally,
although AOC has recently made improvements to the House and Senate
recycling programs, contamination of recycled materials remains high, and
the goals for the overall program remain unclear.

To improve worker safety, GAO recommends that the Architect of the
Capitol enhance AOC’s ongoing efforts to establish a strategy for the
worker safety program by

• establishing safety program goals that are fully integrated with AOC’s
  agencywide goals, performance measures for achieving the goals, and
  accountability for results;

• improving AOC’s capacity to report hazards, conduct investigations and
  follow-up, and provide employee safety training that fully supports
  safety program goals;

• clarifying the role of the Congressional Office of Attending Physician to
  help AOC meet its safety goals; and

• establishing a senior management-level work group that will routinely
  discuss workers’ compensation cases and costs, and developing
  strategies to reduce these injuries and costs.




Page 9                                        GAO-03-231 Architect of the Capitol
                Executive Summary




                To improve project management at AOC, GAO recommends that the
                Architect of the Capitol

                • develop a Capitol Hill complex master plan and complete condition
                  assessments of all buildings and facilities under the jurisdiction of AOC;

                • develop a process for assigning project priorities that is based on clearly
                  defined, well-documented, consistently applied, and transparent
                  criteria;

                • develop tools to effectively communicate priorities and progress of
                  projects, as a part of a broader communication strategy;

                • define project management-related performance measures to achieve
                  mission-critical strategic and annual performance goals; and

                • align project management staff and resources with AOC’s mission-
                  critical goals.

                To improve recycling at AOC, GAO recommends that the Architect of the
                Capitol adopt a strategic approach to recycling by

                • developing a clear mission and goals for AOC’s recycling program, with
                  input from key congressional stakeholders, as part of its proposed
                  environmental master plan;

                • developing a performance measurement, monitoring, and evaluation
                  system that supports accomplishing AOC’s recycling mission and goals;
                  and

                • examining the roles, responsibilities, and accountability of AOC’s
                  recycling program staff.



Matters for     The Congress should consider ways in which to elevate, integrate, and
                institutionalize accountability for addressing management issues and
Congressional   leading organizational transformational at AOC. One option would be to
Consideration   create a statutory Chief Operating Officer or similar position for AOC to
                improve its executive decision-making capacity and accountability.




                Page 10                                        GAO-03-231 Architect of the Capitol
                  Executive Summary




                  To help ensure that AOC implements its management improvement plan,
                  the Congress should consider requiring AOC to provide periodic status
                  reports on the implementation of its plan, including progress made and
                  milestones not met, and any adjustments to the plan in response to internal
                  or external developments.



Agency Comments   On November 20, 2002, we provided to the Architect of the Capitol a draft
                  of this report for comment. We received written comments from the
                  Architect, which are reprinted in appendix II. AOC also provided technical
                  comments that were incorporated where appropriate.

                  In his written comments, the Architect stated that he is “dedicated to
                  preserving and enhancing the national treasures entrusted to my agency’s
                  care, and to providing high quality service to the Congress and our other
                  clients.” He further stated “the GAO testimony provided in April 2002 and
                  our discussions with GAO regarding the report resulted in our advancing
                  improvement efforts at the [AOC].” The Architect generally agreed with our
                  findings, conclusions, and recommendations and indicated that AOC is
                  developing an implementation plan to adopt recommended management
                  changes and that three themes—strategic planning, communications, and
                  performance management—will be the primary focus of its immediate
                  efforts. The Architect disagreed with our statement that AOC’s 5-year
                  Safety Management Plan was drafted independent of its broader strategic
                  planning effort. Although we believe that this statement was true at the
                  time of our review, AOC has subsequently made efforts to improve the
                  alignment between its draft strategic and worker safety plans. Therefore,
                  we deleted this statement.




                  Page 11                                      GAO-03-231 Architect of the Capitol
Chapter 1

Introduction                                                                                              Chapte1
                                                                                                                r




               The Office of the Architect of the Capitol (AOC) is responsible for
               maintaining and caring for the buildings and grounds primarily located in
               the Capitol Hill complex, such as the Capitol building, the House and
               Senate office buildings, the Library of Congress, and the Supreme Court.
               AOC is also responsible for making all necessary capital improvements
               within the complex, including major renovations and new construction.
               The historic nature and high-profile use of many of these buildings creates
               a complex environment in which to carry out this mission. For example,
               the U.S. Capitol building is, at once, a national capitol, museum, office
               building, ceremonial site, meeting center, media base, and tourist
               attraction. In making structural or other physical changes, AOC must
               consider the historical significance and the effect on each of these many
               uses. Further, AOC must perform its duties in an environment that requires
               balancing the divergent needs of congressional leadership, committees,
               individual members of the Congress, congressional staffs, and the visiting
               public. The challenges of operating in this environment were compounded
               by the events of September 11, 2001, and their aftermath, including the
               October 2001 discovery of anthrax bacteria on Capitol Hill, and the
               resulting need for increased security and safety.

               Given the important role AOC plays in supporting the effective functioning
               of the Congress and neighboring institutions, the Legislative Branch
               Appropriations Act, 2002, mandated this review, 1 and Senate and House
               Appropriations Committee reports directed our review on certain
               management shortcomings at AOC that needed attention, with a focus on
               recommending solutions—strategic planning, organizational alignment,
               strategic human capital management, and financial management.2 The
               committees also asked us to assess information technology, and three key
               program areas—worker safety, recycling, and project management—both
               to illustrate the management issues we are addressing and to help AOC
               identify best practices and areas for improvement in these important
               programs. This report also discusses actions taken to date by AOC and our
               recommendations for further enhancements. In April 2002, at the request of
               the Subcommittee on Legislative Branch, Senate Committee on
               Appropriations, we submitted a statement for the record for AOC’s
               appropriations hearing that outlined our preliminary observations on what



               1
                Section 129(d) of Pub. L. No. 107-68, Nov. 12, 2001.
               2
                Sen. Rep. No. 107-37 at 28, 29 (2001), and H.R. Conf. Rep. No. 107-148 at 73 (2001).




               Page 12                                                  GAO-03-231 Architect of the Capitol
             Chapter 1
             Introduction




             AOC needed to do to improve its management.3 This report completes our
             review. The act also requires AOC to develop a management improvement
             plan to address our recommendations.4

             We recognize that this report outlines a large and complex agenda for
             achieving organizational transformation at AOC, and that AOC cannot
             tackle all these changes at once. The experiences of successful major
             change management initiatives in large private and public sector
             organizations suggest that such initiatives can often take at least 5 to 7
             years until they are fully implemented and the related cultures are
             transformed in a sustainable manner. Nonetheless, this agenda provides the
             broad landscape of issues confronting AOC and is therefore important to
             crafting a comprehensive and integrated approach to addressing AOC’s
             challenges and setting appropriate priorities, even though by necessity it
             will have to be phased in over time. By drawing on the full potential of its
             management team, AOC can begin to take immediate steps on a number of
             actions, although we recognize that AOC will be able to implement some of
             these actions more quickly than others.



Background   In fiscal year 2002, AOC operated with a budget of $426 million, which
             included $237 million for capital expenditures associated with the
             construction or major renovation of facilities within the Capitol Hill
             complex. Organizationally, AOC has a centralized staff that performs
             administrative functions; what AOC refers to as “jurisdictions” handle their
             own day-to-day operations. These jurisdictions include the Senate Office
             Buildings, the House Office Buildings, the U.S. Capitol Buildings, the
             Library of Congress Buildings and Grounds, the Supreme Court Buildings
             and Grounds, the Capitol Grounds, the Capitol Power Plant, the U.S.
             Botanic Garden. There are over 2,300 employees in AOC; nearly 1 out of
             every 3 employees is a member of a union.

             New requirements to meet long-standing labor and safety laws have added
             to the complexity of AOC operations. For example, the Congressional

             3
              U.S. General Accounting Office, Architect of the Capitol: Management and Accountability
             Framework Needed to Lead and Execute Change, GAO-02-632T (Washington, D.C.: Apr. 17,
             2002).
             4
              Section 129(d) of Pub. L. No. 107-68, Nov. 12, 2001.




             Page 13                                                 GAO-03-231 Architect of the Capitol
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Accountability Act of 1995 (CAA) applied 11 civil rights, labor, and
workplace laws to AOC as well as other legislative branch agencies. 5 In
particular, meeting the obligations of labor laws, such as the Fair Labor
Standards Act of 1938 and the Federal Service Labor-Management
Relations Statute, while overcoming a history of poor labor-management
relations has been a struggle. CAA also requires AOC to meet standards set
by the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, which applied new life
and fire safety codes, as well as other building codes, to the agency. CAA
established the Office of Compliance (OOC) to enforce the provisions of
the act through inspections, investigations, and prosecution of potential
violations. In addition, OOC provides education to employees and
employing offices, and administers dispute resolution procedures if
violations are found.

AOC has demonstrated a commitment to change through the management
improvements it has planned and under way. For example, consistent with
the preliminary observations we provided in our April statement, AOC has
recently

• commenced a new strategic planning effort that focuses on developing
  mission-critical goals,

• drafted congressional protocols patterned after our protocols,

• conducted client surveys in the Capitol, House, Senate, and Library of
  Congress jurisdictions,

• implemented a senior executive performance evaluation system,

• improved budget formulation and execution processes,

• begun preparations for producing auditable financial statements,

• begun drafting a policy to establish an agencywide approach to
  information technology management,

• drafted a workplace safety and health master plan,




5
 Pub. L. No. 104-1, Jan. 23, 1995.




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                         Introduction




                         • consulted with experts on how to structure its request for proposals for
                           developing a long term master plan for the Capitol Hill complex, and

                         • improved recycling program coordination and client outreach.



Objectives, Scope, and   The Legislative Branch Appropriations Act, 2002, directed us to conduct a
                         comprehensive management study of AOC’s operations. Under this
Methodology              mandate, we address three objectives: (1) What improvements in strategic
                         planning, organizational alignment, and strategic human capital
                         management would help AOC better achieve its mission and accomplish its
                         strategic goals? (2) What actions can the AOC take to improve its overall
                         management infrastructure in other key functional areas, such as financial
                         management and information technology management, to improve its
                         performance and better accomplish its goals? (3) What specific
                         improvement can AOC make in selected program areas, including worker
                         safety, project management, and recycling, vital to achieving its mission?

                         To address these objectives, we have been working constructively with
                         AOC managers to understand their complex operating environment and the
                         long-standing challenges they must address. In addition to the standard
                         audit methods described below, as part of our constructive engagement, we
                         provided AOC briefings and GAO reports on best practices in the areas we
                         reviewed. For example, at AOC’s request, GAO officials provided briefings
                         on our own approach to strategic planning and establishing congressional
                         protocols along with copies of our strategic planning and protocol
                         documents. In addition, we provided GAO reports on areas such as
                         strategic human capital management6 and world-class financial
                         management7 and other guidance on GAO’s human capital policies and
                         procedures. Finally, upon request we provided details of our focus group
                         methodology discussed below to assist AOC in replicating our approach in
                         AOC jurisdictions we did not cover.




                         6
                           U.S. General Accounting Office, A Model of Strategic Human Capital Management,
                         Exposure Draft, GAO-02-373SP (Washington, D.C.: March 2002).
                         7
                         U.S. General Accounting Office, Executive Guide: Creating Value Through World-class
                         Financial Management, GAO/AIMD-00-134 (Washington, D.C.: April 2000).




                         Page 15                                             GAO-03-231 Architect of the Capitol
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For each of the management functions and the worker safety and health,
recycling, and project management programs, we reviewed AOC’s
legislative authority and internal AOC documents, including selected AOC
policies and procedures, internal and consultant reports on AOC
management issues, reports by the Inspector General and GAO, and other
reports on best practices.

To obtain management’s perspective on the objectives, we interviewed key
senior AOC officials, including the Architect; the Chief of Staff; the
Assistant Architect; the Chief Financial Officer; the General Counsel; the
Deputy Chief of Staff; the Director of Safety, Fire, and Environmental
Programs; the Director of the Office of Labor Relations; and the Acting
Chief of the Office of Design and Construction. We also interviewed AOC
officials at the next level of management responsible for strategic planning,
human resources, information technology, budget, accounting, project
management, architecture, engineering, construction, and recycling. We
also spoke to senior AOC managers and toured facilities in the following
AOC jurisdictions: U.S. Capitol Building, House Office Building, Senate
Office Buildings, Library Buildings and Grounds, Supreme Court, Capitol
Power Plant, and the U.S. Botanic Garden. We interviewed the Inspector
General to discuss the work his office had done on the management areas
we reviewed.

In addition to formal interviews, AOC allowed us to attend as observers a
number of key internal meetings, including two budget review meetings on
budget formulation and execution progress and issues for two
jurisdictions, three quarterly capital project review meetings to discuss the
status of AOC projects, an August 2002 National Academy of Sciences
workshop to discuss Capitol Hill complex-wide master planning efforts,
and a June 2002 workshop by DuPont Safety Resources on strategies for
safety excellence.

To obtain additional perspectives on the areas examined as part of our
review and as an initial effort to support AOC planned efforts to begin to
routinely obtain employee feedback, we used focus groups to gather
employee and supervisor perceptions, opinions, and attitudes about
working at AOC. For our focus groups at AOC, we were interested in
obtaining (1) employees’ views of what aspects of working at AOC were
going well or needed improvement, (2) whether employees had the
resources needed to perform their jobs, and (3) employees’ perspectives on
AOC’s worker safety program. We contracted with the firm of
Booz|Allen|Hamilton to conduct the focus groups and summarize and



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analyze the results. We conducted 13 of these focus groups with employees
randomly selected from the House and Senate Office Building jurisdictions,
Capitol Power Plant, Senate Restaurants, and the Construction
Management Division. We selected employees from these parts of AOC in
accord with our specific review areas of worker safety and project
management and also because they contained some of the largest
employee populations. The other two focus groups consisted of randomly
selected employee supervisors from the House and Senate jurisdictions. In
all, we invited 200 employees to attend 15 focus groups and 127 employees
participated.

To obtain a better understanding of project management at AOC, we also
conducted a focus group with full-time AOC project managers. For the
focus group, we asked about what is working well at the AOC in project
management and where there might be areas for improvement. We also
discussed (1) the project management process at AOC, (2) the project
management environment, and (3) resources and tools used in performing
project management duties at AOC. We invited 14 project managers and 8
attended. A more detailed discussion of our focus group objectives, scope,
and methodology, including a list of our focus group questions is contained
in appendix I.

To further understand how project management works at AOC, we
conducted two in-depth case studies of projects currently under way—the
relocation of the Senate Recording Studio and the modernization of the
coal handling system at the Capitol Power Plant. We selected these case
studies using the following criteria: both were drawn from AOC’s “hot”—or
high priority—projects, one was a medium project and one was a large
project, and one had a project manager from the central Assistant
Architect’s office and the other from a jurisdiction. In addition both
projects were on a critical path to the completion of other high priority
AOC projects. Our methodology entailed reviewing relevant project
documents as well as interviewing key internal and external stakeholders
for the projects.

On November 20, 2002, we provided to the Architect of the Capitol a draft
of this report for comment. We received written comments from the
Architect. The Architect’s comments are reprinted in appendix II. AOC also
provided technical comments that were incorporated where appropriate.




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In his written comments, the Architect stated that he is “dedicated to
preserving and enhancing the national treasures entrusted to my agency’s
care, and to providing high quality service to the Congress and our other
clients.” He further stated “the GAO testimony provided in April 2002 and
our discussions with GAO regarding the report resulted in our advancing
improvement efforts at the [AOC].” The Architect generally agreed with our
findings, conclusions, and recommendations and indicated that AOC is
developing an implementation plan to adopt recommended management
changes and that three themes—strategic planning, communications, and
performance management—will be the primary focus of its immediate
efforts. The Architect disagreed with our statement that AOC’s 5-year
Safety Management Plan was drafted independent of its broader strategic
planning effort. Although we believe that this statement was true at the
time of our review, AOC has subsequently made efforts to improve the
alignment between its draft strategic and worker safety plans. Therefore,
we deleted this statement. We performed our work in Washington, D.C.,
from November 2001 through September 2002 in accordance with generally
accepted government auditing standards.

Major contributors to this report are listed in appendix III.




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Chapter 2

Strategic Management Framework Needed to
Achieve Transformation                                                                                   Chapte2
                                                                                                               r




                       The Office of the Architect of the Capitol (AOC) recognizes that because of
                       the nature of the challenges and demands it faces, change will not come
                       quickly or easily. AOC therefore must ensure that it has the policies,
                       procedures, and people in place to effectively implement the needed
                       changes. That is, to serve the Congress, central AOC management needs
                       the capability to define goals, set priorities, ensure follow-through, monitor
                       progress, and establish accountability. The themes we discuss in this
                       chapter focus on building the capability to lead and execute organizational
                       transformation. Therefore, as a first priority, AOC needs to establish a
                       management and accountability framework by, among other things,

                       • demonstrating top leadership commitment to organizational
                         transformation;

                       • involving key congressional and other stakeholders in developing its
                         strategic plan;

                       • using its strategic plan as the foundation for aligning its activities, core
                         processes, and resources to support mission-related outcomes;

                       • establishing a communications strategy to foster change and create
                         shared expectations and build involvement;

                       • developing annual goals and a system for measuring performance; and

                       • strategically managing its human capital to drive transformation and to
                         support the accomplishment of agency goals.



AOC Needs to Undergo   Across the federal government, fundamental questions are being asked
                       about what government does; how it does it; and in some cases, who
Organizational         should do the government’s business. The answers to these questions are
Transformation         driving agencies to transform their organizational cultures. This
                       organizational transformation entails shifts from

                       • processes to results,

                       • stovepipes to matrixes,

                       • hierarchical to flatter and more horizontal structures,

                       • an inward focus to an external (customer and stakeholder) focus,



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• micro-management to employee empowerment,

• reactive behavior to proactive approaches,

• avoiding new technologies to embracing and leveraging them,

• hoarding knowledge to sharing knowledge,

• avoiding risk to managing risk, and

• protecting turf to forming partnerships.

AOC confronts many of these same issues. For example, to serve its clients,
AOC is organized along jurisdictional lines—stovepipes that are not fully
matrixed. In this environment, AOC faces the challenge of how best to
marshal its jurisdiction-based resources to address the strategic planning,
performance management, human capital, project management, and other
functional issues that cut across the organization. AOC also faces the
challenge of how to shift from reacting to problems as they arise to getting
in front of the problems to address root causes, while still responding to
the day-to-day service needs of its clients. Change is always risky, but
continuing to address problems with only short-term tactical solutions can
be even riskier—AOC needs to develop the capacity to identify the risks to
achieving its goals and manage them before crises occur.

Making such fundamental changes in AOC’s culture will require a long-
term, concerted effort. The experiences of successful major change
management initiatives in large private and public sector organizations
suggests that such initiatives can often take at least 5 to 7 years until they
are fully implemented and the related cultures are transformed in a
sustainable manner. As a result, it is essential to establish action-oriented
implementation goals over the long term and a time line with milestone




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dates to track the organization’s progress towards achieving those
implementation goals.1

The nature and scope of the changes require the sustained and inspired
commitment of the top leadership. Top leadership attention is essential to
overcome organizations’ natural resistance to change, marshal the
resources needed to implement change, and build and maintain the
organizationwide commitment to new ways of doing business. On
September 9, 2002, the Comptroller General convened a roundtable of
executive branch leaders and management experts to discuss the Chief
Operating Officer concept and how it might apply within selected federal
departments and agencies as one leadership strategy to address certain
systemic federal governance challenges.2 There was general agreement in
the roundtable on a number of overall themes concerning the need for
agencies to do the following:

• Elevate attention on management issues and organizational
  transformation. The nature and scope of the changes needed in many
  agencies require the sustained and inspired commitment of the top
  political and career leadership.

• Integrate various key management functions and transformation
  responsibilities. While officials with management responsibilities often
  have successfully worked together, there needs to be a single point
  within agencies with the perspective and responsibility—as well as
  authority—to ensure the successful implementation of functional
  management and, if appropriate, transformation efforts.

• Institutionalize accountability for addressing management issues and
  leading transformation. The management weaknesses in some agencies

1
 For GAO products discussing the elements of successful transformation in more detail, see
U.S. General Accounting Office, Highlights of a GAO Forum on Mergers and
Transformation: Lessons Learned for a Department of Homeland Security and Other
Federal Agencies GAO-03-293SP (Washington, D.C.: November 14, 2002), Homeland
Security: Critical Design and Implementation Issues, GAO-02-957T (Washington, D.C.:
July 17, 2002), Managing for Results: Using Strategic Human Capital Management to
Drive Transformational Change, GAO-02-940T (Washington, D.C.: July 15, 2002), and FBI
Reorganization: Initial Steps Encouraging but Broad Transformation Needed, GAO-02-
865T (Washington, D.C.: June 21, 2002).
2
  U.S. General Accounting Office, Highlights of a GAO Roundtable: The Chief Operating
Officer Concept: A Potential Strategy to Address Federal Governance Challenges, GAO-03-
192SP (Washington, D.C.: Oct. 4, 2002).




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                                  are deeply entrenched and long-standing and will take years of
                                  sustained attention and continuity to resolve. In addition, making
                                  fundamental changes in agencies’ cultures will require a long-term
                                  effort.

                               In our April 2002 statement, we noted that we were exploring options to
                               strengthen AOC’s executive decision-making capacity and accountability,
                               including creating a Chief Operating Officer (COO) position, which could
                               be responsible for major long-term management and cultural
                               transformation and stewardship responsibilities within AOC. On July 25,
                               2002, the Senate passed S.2720, the Legislative Branch Appropriations Act,
                               2003, in which it established a Deputy Architect of the Capitol/COO. This
                               official was to be responsible for the overall direction, operation, and
                               management of AOC. In addition to developing and implementing a long-
                               term strategic plan, including a comprehensive mission statement and an
                               annual performance plan, the bill requires that the Deputy Architect be
                               responsible for proposing organizational changes and new positions
                               needed to carry out AOC’s mission and strategic and annual performance
                               goals. Regardless of whether the Congress decides to pursue a COO
                               position for AOC, concerted efforts will be needed to elevate, integrate, and
                               institutionalize responsibility for transformation at AOC.



Successful Organizations       In our prior work, we have concluded that for strategic planning to be done
Align Their Activities, Core   well, organizations must involve their stakeholders and align their
                               activities, core processes, and resources to support mission-related
Processes, and Resources to    outcomes. We found that leading results-oriented organizations
Support Mission-Related        consistently strive to ensure that their day-to-day activities support their
Outcomes                       organizational missions and move them closer to accomplishing their
                               strategic goals. In practice, these organizations see the production of a
                               strategic plan—that is, a particular document issued on a particular day—
                               as one of the least important parts of the planning process. This is because
                               they believe strategic planning is not a static or occasional event. It is,
                               instead, a dynamic and inclusive process. If done well, strategic planning is
                               continuous and provides the basis for everything the organization does
                               each day. Therefore, it is important for an organization to go through the
                               strategic planning process first, and then align the organization to
                               accomplish the objectives of that plan. Figure 1 shows how an agency’s
                               strategic plan serves as the foundation for other strategic management
                               initiatives, such as organizational realignment; performance planning,
                               management, and reporting; and improvements to the capacity of the
                               organization to achieve its goals.



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Figure 1: Strategic Plan for Aligning AOC’s Activities, Core Processes, and Resources to Support AOC’s Mission-Related
Outcomes




                                                         Strategic plan
                                                      for serving the Congress




            Annual Planning
                                                                                                   Organizational
         • Annual performance plan
                                                                                                     structure
                • Budget request
             (resource allocation)




                        Accountability                                                       Capacity
                                                                                       • Strategic human capital
                    • Performance measurement
                                                                                                management
                           • Performance and
                                                                                         • Financial management
                         accountability report
                    • Performance management                                            • Information technology
                                                                                                management


     Source: GAO.




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                             Since 1997, AOC and a number of its subsidiary offices and jurisdictions
                             have attempted to implement strategic planning processes. In 1997, the
                             Architect led the first effort to produce an AOC-wide strategic plan that laid
                             out AOC’s mission, vision, core values, strategic priorities, and goals and
                             objectives. Similarly, a number of business units within AOC, such as the
                             Human Resources Management Division, the Office of Inspector General,
                             and the House Office Buildings jurisdiction have developed their own
                             strategic plans, and the Capitol Buildings jurisdiction is developing a new
                             master plan for the Capitol, but these plans do not flow directly from, and
                             therefore are not necessarily consistent with, an AOC-wide plan.

                             According to AOC officials, turnover in key planning staff and inability to
                             reach agreement on how to measure performance led AOC management to
                             discontinue the AOC-wide strategic planning effort. Subsequently, in 2001
                             AOC shifted to a scaled-back strategic planning approach that focused on
                             tasks to be completed in a number of key priority areas: (1) develop a
                             process and establish realistic goals and priorities, (2) improve employee
                             support by, for example, addressing space and equipment needs and
                             improving communication about where the organization is going,
                             (3) improve safety, (4) improve project delivery, and (5) focus on quality
                             assurance. In our April 2002 statement, we stated that AOC needed to
                             refocus and integrate its strategic planning efforts to identify and
                             implement mission-critical goals for key results.

                             Consistent with the preliminary observations in our April 2002 statement,
                             AOC renewed its organizationwide strategic planning process. AOC formed
                             a task force of senior managers to develop a “straw” strategic plan that
                             outlines AOC’s mission; vision; core values; and long-term, mission-critical
                             goals for fiscal years 2003 through 2007. When completed, AOC’s strategic
                             plan should provide the starting point and serve as a unifying framework
                             for AOC’s various business unit and jurisdictional planning efforts. The
                             plan will also position AOC to answer questions such as what fundamental
                             results does AOC want to achieve, what are its long-term goals, and what
                             strategies will it employ to achieve those goals.



AOC Needs to Involve Key     Successful organizations we studied ensure that their strategic planning
Congressional and Other      fully considers the interests and expectations of their stakeholders. Among
                             the stakeholders of AOC are the appropriations and oversight committees
Stakeholders in Developing
                             and individual members of the Congress and their staffs, the management
Its Strategic Plan           and staff of the Supreme Court, the Library of Congress, and the




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                             Congressional Budget Office, AOC employees, and, of course, the
                             American public.

                             AOC strategic planning efforts have not yet involved such outreach. To
                             date, AOC’s task force of senior managers has developed a straw 5-year
                             strategic plan that outlines AOC’s mission, vision, core values, and high
                             level goals and objectives for the four strategic focus areas its has
                             identified: strategic management and business initiatives, human capital,
                             facilities management, and project management.3 Consistent with our
                             constructive engagement with AOC, we have provided several best practice
                             briefings to the agency’s leadership as requested. A senior GAO executive
                             in GAO’s Office of External Liaison briefed the Architect of the Capitol and
                             other AOC senior managers on October 8, 2002, on our continuing process
                             to update and revise our strategic plan. The briefing emphasized the need
                             for continual stakeholder involvement. As a result, according to AOC, it
                             recently defined its key stakeholders and a methodology for obtaining their
                             feedback on the strategic plan.

                             In moving forward with its strategic planning efforts, it will be critical that
                             AOC fully engage its stakeholders and obtain their buy-in to provide a
                             strong foundation for any organizational or operating changes that may be
                             needed to implement the plan. In contrast to previous strategic planning
                             initiatives, AOC needs to move beyond a focus on actions to be completed
                             quickly to a broader focus on the mission-critical, long-term goals needed
                             to serve the Congress. Thus, stakeholder involvement will be especially
                             important for AOC to help it ensure that its efforts and resources are
                             targeted at the highest priorities. Just as important, involving stakeholders
                             in strategic planning efforts can help create a basic understanding among
                             the stakeholders of the competing demands that confront most agencies,
                             the limited resources available to them, and how those demands and
                             resources require careful and continuous balancing.



An AOC-Wide                  An effective communications strategy is a key success factor for
Communications Strategy      organizations undergoing transformation. In a September 24, 2002, forum
                             convened by the Comptroller General on mergers and transformation
Will Help Achieve Mission-
                             issues, there was consensus among the participants that communication is
Critical Goals               essential to organizational transformation. As we discussed in our April

                             3
                              Architect of the Capitol, Draft Strategic Plan, Fiscal Years 2003-2007 (reflects comments
                             from AOC Management Council meeting held June 18, 2002).




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2002 statement, for successful implementation of strategic planning and
change management, AOC must develop a comprehensive communications
strategy for its internal and external customers. The Architect of the
Capitol agrees that improving communications is one of his top priorities.
As AOC continues to develop its strategic plan, it should consider how it
can build such a communications strategy to help to achieve the
organization’s mission. It is also important for AOC to assess ways that it
can measure the success of this strategy.

AOC continues to strengthen its internal communications by broadening
participation in a series of regular meetings among its senior managers for
decision making and routine sharing of information. For example, AOC has
expanded participation in its management council meetings (biweekly
meetings of AOC’s senior managers to address agency business issues and
priorities) to include jurisdictional superintendents and office directors.

In our April 2002 statement, we noted that AOC could strengthen its
internal communications by developing a communications strategy that
would help AOC’s line employees understand the connection between what
they do on a day-to-day basis and AOC’s goals and expectations, as well as
seek employee feedback and develop goals for improvement. We further
stated that one way of implementing such a strategy is to conduct routine
employee feedback surveys and/or focus groups. In addition, we continue
to believe that AOC could benefit from knowledge sharing to encourage
and reward employees who share and implement best practices across the
various jurisdictions, teams, and projects.

The need for an organizationwide communications strategy is borne out by
the results of the focus groups that we conducted with AOC employees and
supervisors from June through July 2002. When we analyzed the results of
the focus groups, several themes became apparent.4 One of the themes
cited by focus group participants involved supervisory communications
and employee relations—specifically, that communications from
supervisor to employee is insufficient. AOC plans to followup on our
efforts by seeking employee feedback through focus groups and surveys. In
a May 23, 2002, memorandum from the Architect to AOC’s employees
announcing the focus groups we conducted, the Architect stated that AOC


4
  Crosscutting themes were found in majority view comments that were common across the
jurisdictions, skills sets, and shifts we selected and represented the most pervasive issues
coming out of the focus groups.




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planned to gather the views of employees from the jurisdictions that we did
not cover. Moreover, in its draft strategic plan, AOC noted that employee
surveys is one strategy it plans to use to help achieve the human capital
strategic goal of attracting, developing, and retaining diverse, satisfied, and
highly motivated employees.

AOC must continue to improve its external communications and outreach
by (1) further developing congressional protocols, (2) improving its
accountability reporting, and (3) continuing to measure customer
satisfaction with its services organizationwide. In our April 2002 statement,
we encouraged AOC to consider developing congressional protocols,
which would help ensure that AOC deals with its congressional customers
using clearly defined, consistently applied, and transparent policies and
procedures. After working closely with the Congress and after careful pilot
testing, we implemented congressional protocols in 1999. In response to
our preliminary observations concerning the need for such protocols at
AOC, on June 17, 2002, GAO’s Director of Congressional Relations and her
staff briefed the Architect of the Capitol and AOC’s senior managers on
lessons learned from GAO’s development of congressional protocols. They
shared key lessons and success factors from our experiences in developing
the protocols—that it is a time-consuming process that involves (1) the
personal commitment and direction from the agency head, (2) senior
management participation and buy-in, and (3) continuous outreach to and
feedback from external stakeholders. As a result of our preliminary
observations and our best practices briefing, AOC drafted an initial set of
congressional protocols modeled after our congressional protocols. AOC
noted that these protocols need to be finalized and distributed. In doing so,
and consistent with the approach for AOC’s strategic plan, AOC needs to
continually involve its stakeholders in developing these protocols.

Although AOC is not required to comply with the 1993 Government
Performance and Results Act (GPRA) because it is a legislative branch
agency, we believe that AOC could adopt the reporting elements of GPRA
to strengthen accountability and transparency by annually reporting
program performance and financial information. For example, although
GAO is a legislative branch agency, since fiscal year 1999, we have annually
produced performance and accountability reports as well as our future
fiscal year performance plan. Such results-oriented accountability
reporting would help AOC communicate what it has accomplished, as well
as its plans for continued progress to its external stakeholders.




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                           In tandem with AOC’s efforts to gather internal feedback from its
                           employees, we noted in April 2002 that AOC’s communications strategy
                           should also include tools for gauging customer satisfaction with its
                           services. Customer feedback is an expectation for AOC’s senior managers
                           and conducting client surveys is one proposed method in AOC’s draft
                           strategic plan to achieve the strategic objective related to facilities
                           management. In June 2002, AOC made a concerted effort to gather the
                           views of some of its clients through a building services customer
                           satisfaction survey for the Senate, House, Capitol building, and Library of
                           Congress jurisdictions, which it plans to conduct annually. The Architect of
                           the Capitol indicated to the survey participants that he will use the results
                           of the survey to initiate service improvements based on the priorities they
                           identify. AOC surveyed a total of 1,883 congressional staff members and
                           received 275 responses. The results of the survey were shared with the
                           jurisdictions’ superintendents. AOC plans to report the results to the
                           congressional leadership and members of the Congress and to the Library
                           of Congress. In response, the jurisdictional superintendents are developing
                           “action plans” to address areas of concern that were raised in the surveys.
                           Continued AOC efforts to routinely measure customer satisfaction AOC-
                           wide with both its congressional customers as well as other customers,
                           such as visitors to the Capitol Hill complex, will help AOC identify its
                           service quality strengths, performance gaps, and improvement
                           opportunities.



AOC Should Develop         Another key action AOC needs to take is developing annual performance
Annual Goals and Measure   goals that provide a connection between the long-term strategic goals in
                           the strategic plan and the day-to-day activities of managers and staff
Performance
                           members. Measuring performance allows an organization to track the
                           progress it is making toward its goals, gives managers crucial information
                           on which to base their organizational and management decisions, and
                           creates powerful incentives to influence organizational and individual
                           behavior.

                           AOC’s draft strategic plan for 2002 through 2007 describes a number of
                           strategic objectives and outcomes for each of its four focus areas. For
                           example, under Facilities Management, AOC has as a strategic objective to
                           “provide safe, healthy, secure, and clean facilities to our clients.” One of the
                           outcomes described for this focus area is “satisfied visitors and occupants.”
                           The draft plan also lists a performance goal methodology. In the case of
                           Facilities Management, the methodology is “client surveys,” as we
                           discussed above. According to the draft plan, AOC’s strategic plan is to be



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supplemented by more detailed functional plans that are developed along
the same planning time line. These plans are to contain the tactical level
actions, performance targets, and milestone data necessary to carry out
agency-level strategies. The draft plan states that AOC will use both
quantitative and qualitative performance goals and measures to
demonstrate progress toward its strategic goals and objectives.

As AOC moves forward in developing its performance goals and measures,
it should consider the practices of leading organizations we have studied
that were successful in measuring their performance. Such organizations
generally applied two practices. First, they developed measures that were
(1) tied to program goals and demonstrated the degree to which the desired
results were achieved, (2) limited to the vital few that were considered
essential to producing data for decision making, (3) responsive to multiple
priorities, and (4) responsibility linked to establish accountability for
results. Second, the agencies recognized the cost and effort involved in
gathering and analyzing data and made sure that the data they did collect
were sufficiently complete, accurate, and consistent to be useful in
decision making.

Developing measures that respond to multiple priorities is of particular
importance for programs operating in dynamic environments where
mission requirements must be carefully balanced. This is the case for AOC
where the role of protecting and preserving the historic facilities under its
control may occasionally conflict with its role of providing maintenance
and renovation services to occupants who use the facilities to conduct
congressional business. For example, according to AOC officials, following
elections, new members of the Congress may ask AOC to modify office
suites containing historic architectural features. In those cases, AOC must
balance the members’ needs for functional office design with its
responsibility for protecting the architectural integrity of the rooms.
Consequently, AOC, like other organizations, must weigh its mission
requirements against its priorities. AOC could better gauge its success by
first employing a balanced set of measures that encompasses its diverse
responsibilities and requirements, such as maintaining historic facilities
and satisfying customers and then benchmarking its results both
internally—across its jurisdictions—as well as against other leading
organizations with comparable facility management operations.




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AOC Should Revisit Link         Once AOC has reached agreement with its stakeholders on its strategic
between Its Performance         plan, AOC should revisit both its senior executive and employee
                                performance management systems to strengthen individual accountability
Management Systems and          to organizational goals and performance. AOC also has not yet aligned and
Mission-Critical Goals in Its   cascaded its performance expectations with its mission-critical goals at all
Strategic Plan                  levels of the organization. As our September 2002 report on managing
                                senior executive performance using balanced expectations noted, leading
                                organizations use their performance management systems to achieve
                                results, accelerate change, and facilitate communication throughout the
                                year so that discussions about individual and organizational performance
                                are integrated and ongoing.5 Thus, effective performance management
                                systems can be (1) strategic tools for organizations to drive internal change
                                and achieve external results and (2) ways to translate organizational
                                priorities and goals into direct and specific commitments that senior
                                executives will be expected to achieve during the year. As we have
                                reported in the past, another critical success factor for creating a results-
                                oriented culture is a performance management system that creates a “line
                                of sight” showing how individual employees can contribute to overall
                                organizational goals.

                                In June 2002, AOC implemented a senior executive performance
                                management system—informed by our human capital policies and
                                flexibilities and structured around the Office of Personnel Management’s
                                Executive Core qualifications—based on six performance requirements:
                                results-driven, leading change, leading people, equal employment
                                opportunity, business acumen, and building coalitions and
                                communications. The senior executive performance management system is
                                based on a balanced measures approach—an approach to performance
                                measurement that balances organizational results with customer,
                                employee, and other perspectives. As a part of this system, AOC instructed
                                its senior executives to incorporate the agency’s strategic goals and
                                responsibilities into their performance requirements and individual
                                commitments for subsequent evaluation by the Architect.6 The results-
                                driven performance requirement for AOC’s senior executives provides the
                                basis for results-oriented accountability. The senior executive performance


                                5
                                  U.S. General Accounting Office, Results-Oriented Cultures: Using Balanced Expectations
                                to Manage Senior Executive Performance, GAO-02-966 (Washington, D.C.: Sept. 27, 2002).
                                6
                                AOC Performance Review Process for Employees Serving at the Pleasure of the Architect,
                                Order 430-2, June 15, 2002, p. 3.




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                         management system—once aligned with the strategic goals and objectives
                         in AOC’s strategic plan, will serve as an important means for helping AOC
                         to achieve its desired organizational results.

                         In June 2000, AOC implemented a performance management system—
                         Performance Communication and Evaluation System —for its General
                         Schedule (up to GS-15) and Wage Grade employees (non-bargaining-unit
                         employees). According to the Director of HRMD, approximately 875
                         bargaining unit and trades employees—about 38 percent of AOC’s
                         workforce—were not covered by these systems. As a next step, AOC
                         should align its employee performance management system with its senior
                         executive system to strengthen individual accountability to organizational
                         goals and performance. For example, as we discuss later in the report,
                         although the incentive to focus on safety has been built into the
                         performance appraisal system for employees, it is not addressed in the
                         senior executive performance evaluation system. While AOC supports this
                         concept, AOC’s senior officials stated that they must balance the need to
                         move forward in aligning these systems with the need to provide continuity
                         in the employee performance management system currently in place.



A Competency-Based       The establishment and integration of organizational competencies into
Approach Can Help AOC    performance management systems is another mechanism to create
                         accountability for achieving mission-critical goals. Competencies, which
Meet Its Human Capital
                         define the skills or supporting behaviors that employees are expected to
Goals and Objectives     exhibit as they effectively carry out their work, can provide a fuller picture
                         of an individual’s performance. Competencies can also help form the basis
                         for an organization’s selection, promotion, training, performance
                         management, and succession planning initiatives. Our August 2002 report
                         on other countries’ performance management initiatives found that the
                         United Kingdom, Australia, and New Zealand are using competencies in
                         their public sector organizations to provide a fuller assessment of
                         individual performance.7 GAO has also introduced a competency-based
                         performance management system for analysts and specialists, driven by a
                         best practice review of multidisciplinary professional service organizations
                         in both the private and public sectors.



                         7
                         U.S. General Accounting Office, Results-Oriented Culture: Insights for U.S. Agencies from
                         Other Countries’ Performance Management Initiatives, GAO-02-862 (Washington, D.C.:
                         August 2002).




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AOC should consider developing core and technical competencies as the
basis for its performance management systems. Agencywide core and
technical competencies can serve as guidance for employees as they strive
to meet organizational expectations. The core competencies should be
derived from AOC’s strategic plan and workforce planning efforts and
reflect its core values.8 All employees should be held accountable for
achieving core competencies as AOC moves to transform its culture. As we
reported in April 2002, AOC has added to its professional workforce by
hiring new jurisdictional superintendents, deputy superintendents, budget
and accounting officers, a Chief Financial Officer, a Director of Facilities
Planning and Programming, and worker safety specialists. As AOC works
toward developing a cadre of managerial and professional employees, the
development of specific technical competencies can assist the agency in
creating and developing a successful leadership and managerial team.

AOC has made progress in establishing supervisory, management, and
executive competencies. AOC’s Human Resources Management Division
(HRMD) has also developed a competency model for its professional and
administrative staff. HRMD intends to use this competency model to
“reinforce its strategic focus … and outline the workforce requirements
necessary to develop a highly competent cadre of human resources staff
dedicated and committed to providing high-quality, timely and responsive
human resources services to managers and employees of the AOC.”9 As
AOC’s efforts move forward, it will identify opportunities to refine and/or
develop technical competencies in other managerial and professional areas
critical to achieving its mission, including project management, worker
safety, financial management, and information technology. AOC can draw
from best practices guidance and professional associations and
certifications to assist it in developing these technical competencies. Some
tools available to identify appropriate competencies are offered by the
Joint Financial Management Improvement Program for financial
management, and the Project Management Institute for project
management.

After AOC has established its core and technical competencies, it can use
these competencies as the basis for the performance requirements of its

8
  AOC’s core values are professionalism, respect and diversity, integrity, loyalty, stewardship,
teamwork, and creativity.
9
Office of the Architect of the Capitol, HRMD’s Model for Success, (Washington, D.C.:
October 1999).




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                           performance management systems for both senior executives and
                           employees. The combination of a competency-based performance
                           management system linked to mission-critical goals could provide AOC
                           with a world-class mechanism for holding its workforce accountable for
                           achieving its mission.



AOC Needs to Determine     AOC does not currently collect and analyze workforce data in a
Agency Workforce Needs     comprehensive way that would allow it to determine its workforce needs
                           and to measure its progress in achieving its human capital strategic goals
and Assess Progress by     and objectives. The ability to collect and analyze data will greatly enhance
Collecting and Analyzing   AOC’s ability to acquire, develop, and retain talent, while allowing it to
Workforce Data             effectively plan for the needs of its workforce.

                           High-performing organizations use data to determine key performance
                           objectives and goals that enable them to evaluate the success of their
                           human capital approaches. Reliable data also heighten an agency’s ability
                           to manage risk by allowing managers to spotlight areas for attention before
                           crises develop and identify opportunities for enhancing agency results.
                           Collecting and analyzing data are fundamental building blocks for
                           measuring the effectiveness of human capital approaches in support of the
                           mission and goals of an agency. AOC needs to develop a fact-based,
                           comprehensive approach to the collection and analysis of accurate and
                           reliable information across a range of human capital activities. AOC
                           recognizes the need to comprehensively collect and analyze workforce
                           data and has requested about $1 million in its fiscal year 2003 budget for an
                           automated system to assist it in recruitment, classification, workforce
                           management, and succession planning.

                           Appropriate data sources and collection methods are necessary to measure
                           progress in meeting AOC’s human capital goals and objectives. For
                           example, in order for AOC to determine if it is meeting equal employment
                           opportunity (EEO) and diversity requirements—one of its strategic
                           objectives—it must first establish a reliable data gathering method. We
                           found that AOC does not have comprehensive procedures in place to track
                           its progress to assess whether it is achieving its goal of a diverse
                           workforce. Based on reliable data, AOC can then monitor its progress in
                           meeting EEO requirements and develop appropriate intervention strategies
                           if it is not.




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Strategic Workforce         AOC can benefit from strategically identifying its current and future
Planning Would Help AOC     workforce needs and then creating strategies to fill any gaps. AOC
                            recognizes the need to conduct workforce planning; however, it has not yet
Identify Workforce Needs    initiated this effort. According to the principles embodied in our Model of
and Develop Strategies to   Strategic Human Capital Management, effective organizations
Fill Gaps                   incorporate human capital critical success factors, such as integration and
                            alignment, and data-driven human capital decisions as strategies for
                            accomplishing their mission and programmatic goals and results.10
                            Strategic workforce planning and analysis is one such approach that can
                            help AOC to effectively align its resources with agency needs.

                            Workforce planning efforts linked to strategic program goals and objectives
                            can help the organization to identify such needs as ensuring a diverse labor
                            force, succession planning for scarce skill sets, and other competencies
                            needed in the workforce. For example, in AOC’s draft strategic plan, human
                            capital is one of the four strategic planning focus areas. The strategic goal
                            associated with the human capital focus area is to attract, develop, and
                            retain diverse, satisfied, and highly motivated employees with the skills,
                            talents, and knowledge necessary to support the agency’s mission. AOC
                            established several strategic objectives to achieve this goal. One of the
                            objectives is to develop a human capital plan designed to acquire, develop,
                            and retain a talented workforce while integrating and aligning human
                            capital approaches, equal opportunity requirements, and organizational
                            performance. Specifically, an effective strategic workforce planning effort
                            will entail

                            • determining how many employees AOC needs to accomplish its
                              mission-critical goals;

                            • assessing the skills and competencies of the employees currently
                              available to do this work (develop an employee skills and competencies
                              inventory);

                            • determining gaps in the number, skills, and competencies of the
                              employees needed to do this work;




                            10
                             U.S. General Accounting Office, A Model of Strategic Human Capital Management, GAO-
                            02-373SP (Washington, D.C.: March 2002).




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              • developing a training and recruitment plan for filling the gap, including a
                focus on the diversity and EEO goals of the organization;

              • creating a succession plan to address workforce gaps created by
                employees exiting the organization; and

              • evaluating the contribution that the results of these strategic workforce
                planning efforts make to achieving mission-critical goals.

              AOC does not currently have workforce planning efforts under way,
              although it does recognize the need to strategically plan for its workforce
              and has requested funding for four positions in its fiscal year 2003 budget to
              create an organization and workforce management team within the Office
              of the Architect.11 The purpose of this proposed team is to conduct
              workforce planning and analysis. The team would work collaboratively
              with AOC’s HRMD, Office of the Chief Financial Officer, and other agency
              managers to focus on skill mix, resource needs, and succession planning.



Conclusions   AOC faces many challenges as it seeks to better serve the Congress. This
              report lays out a complex agenda for organizational transformation at AOC
              that includes developing the capacity to lead and execute change and
              becoming a more results-oriented, matrixed, client-focused, and proactive
              organization. AOC has indicated that it is committed to the long-term effort
              necessary to improve its service to the Congress and has already begun to
              make some improvements in areas such as strategic planning, client
              outreach, and accountability of senior management for achieving results.
              To make lasting improvements, AOC must continue on this path by

              • demonstrating top leadership commitment to long-term change;

              • involving key congressional and other stakeholders in developing its
                strategic plan;

              • using its strategic plan as the foundation for aligning activities, core
                processes, and resources to support mission-related outcomes;




              11
                   AOC, FY 2002 Budget Estimates, January 2002.




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                      • establishing a communications strategy to foster change and create
                        shared expectations and build involvement;

                      • developing annual goals and a system for measuring performance; and

                      • strategically managing its human capital to drive transformation and to
                        support the accomplishment of agency goals.

                      AOC’s needs to improve its executive decision-making capacity and
                      accountability in order to help (1) elevate attention on management issues
                      and transformation, (2) integrate various key management and
                      transformation efforts, and (3) institutionalize accountability for
                      addressing management issues and leading transformation.

                      One option for addressing the transformation issues that AOC faces is to
                      create a COO or similar position that would be accountable for achieving
                      change at AOC.

                      Making such fundamental changes in AOC’s culture will require a long-
                      term, concerted effort. In developing a management improvement plan to
                      address the recommendations in this report, it is essential that AOC work
                      with key congressional and other stakeholders to establish action-oriented
                      implementation goals over the long term, and a time line with milestone
                      dates to track the organization’s progress towards achieving those
                      implementation goals.



Recommendations for   In order to adopt the elements of the management and accountability
                      framework—strategic planning, organizational alignment,
Agency Action         communications, performance measurement, and strategic human capital
                      management—and build on efforts under way at AOC, we recommend that
                      the Architect of the Capitol

                      • improve strategic planning and organizational alignment, by involving
                        key congressional and other external stakeholders in AOC’s strategic
                        planning efforts and in any organizational changes that may result from
                        these efforts;

                      • develop a comprehensive strategy to improve internal and external
                        communications, by




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   • providing opportunities for routine employee input and feedback,

   • completing the development of congressional protocols by involving
     stakeholders,

   • improving annual accountability reporting through annual
     performance planning and reporting, and

   • continuing to regularly measure customer satisfaction AOC-wide;
     and

• strengthen performance measurement and strategic human capital
  management, by

   • developing annual goals and measuring performance,

   • creating a “line of sight” by linking AOC’s senior executive and
     employee performance management systems to mission-critical
     goals,

   • establishing agencywide core and technical competencies and
     holding employees accountable for these competencies as a part of
     the performance management system,

   • developing the capacity to collect and analyze workforce data, and

   • identifying current and future workforce needs and developing
     strategies to fill gaps.

In developing a management improvement plan to address the
recommendations in this report, we also recommend that the Architect of
the Capitol establish action-oriented implementation goals over the long
term and a time line with milestone dates to track the organization’s
progress towards achieving those implementation goals. The Architect
should work with key congressional and other stakeholders to develop this
plan.




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Matters for       The Congress should consider ways in which to elevate, integrate, and
                  institutionalize accountability for addressing management issues and
Congressional     leading organizational transformation at AOC. One option would be to
Consideration     create a statutory COO or similar position for AOC to improve its executive
                  decision-making process and accountability.

                  To help ensure that AOC implements its management improvement plan,
                  the Congress should consider requiring AOC to provide periodic status
                  reports on the implementation of its plan, including progress made and
                  milestones not met, and any adjustments to the plan in response to internal
                  or external developments.



Agency Comments   In his comments on this chapter, the Architect agreed with our
                  recommendations and discussed the current efforts AOC has under way in
                  response, including the development of a plan to implement our
                  recommendations. For example, AOC is currently conducting an
                  agencywide strategic planning effort—with stakeholder involvement—
                  focused on developing mission-critical goals and action plans for mission-
                  critical programs, such as facilities management, project management, and
                  human capital. AOC has also formed a team to develop a comprehensive
                  communications strategy to improve its internal and external
                  communications. To strengthen transparency and accountability, as we
                  recommended AOC plans to produce an annual performance plan that
                  outlines the specific actions, milestones, and performance measures
                  planned to achieve its goals for that year and an annual accountability
                  report on progress achieved. In the area of strategic human capital
                  management, AOC stated that it would implement our recommendations in
                  a phased approach that will entail firmly establishing its overall strategy
                  before aligning individual performance management programs to that
                  strategy. AOC plans to explore the benefits of expanding the use of core
                  and technical competencies agencywide, but wants first to ensure that the
                  use of competencies is appropriate for all occupations and jurisdictions.
                  The Architect’s comments are reprinted in appendix II.




                  Page 38                                      GAO-03-231 Architect of the Capitol
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Management Infrastructure and Controls
Needed to Support Organizational
Transformation Initiatives                                                                            Chapte3
                                                                                                            r




              The effectiveness with which the Office of the Architect of the Capitol
              (AOC) can use the management reforms discussed in chapter 2—strategic
              planning, organizational alignment, performance management, improved
              internal and external communications, and strategic human capital
              management—to achieve organizational transformation will depend in part
              on its ability to focus on management improvement in its day-to-day
              operations. A key factor in helping an agency to better achieve its mission
              and program outcomes and identify and manage risks while leveraging
              opportunities is to implement appropriate internal control.1 Internal
              control is a major part of managing an organization. It comprises the plans,
              methods, and procedures used to meet missions, goals, and objectives and,
              in doing so, supports performance-based management. Internal control
              also serves as the first line of defense in safeguarding assets and preventing
              and detecting errors and fraud. In short, internal control, which is
              synonymous with management control, helps government program
              managers achieve desired results through effective stewardship of public
              resources. Effective internal control also helps in managing change to cope
              with shifting environments and evolving demands and priorities. As
              programs change and as agencies strive to improve operational processes
              and implement new technological developments, management must
              continually assess and evaluate its internal control to assure that the
              control activities being used are effective and updated when necessary.

              Other aspects of AOC’s management infrastructure will also require
              continued management attention to support its new focus on achieving
              reforms in mission-critical areas of facilities management, project
              management, strategic planning, and human capital management. AOC will
              need to further develop and consistently apply transparent human capital
              policies and procedures in the areas of leave, awards, and overtime and
              examine discrepancies in job classification and pay levels across the
              agency. AOC must continue improving its approach to budgeting and
              financial management to support effective and efficient program
              management. Finally, AOC will need to adopt an agencywide approach to
              information technology (IT) management to position itself to optimize the
              contribution of IT to agency mission performance.




              1
              U.S. General Accounting Office, Standards for Internal Control in the Federal
              Government, GAO/AIMD-00-21.3.1 (Washington, D.C.: November 1999).




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Standards for Internal   AOC has made a number of important and positive efforts to improve its
                         internal control. For example, in response to our 1994 report that AOC’s
Control Can Provide a    personnel management system did not follow many generally accepted
Strong Foundation for    principles of modern personnel management, AOC developed and
                         implemented basic personnel policies and procedures that are designed to
Organizational           meet the guidelines set forth by the Architect of the Capitol Human
Transformation           Resources Act and the Congressional Accountability Act of 1995 (CAA).2
                         More recently, AOC has been developing standard policies and procedures
                         to address various worker safety hazards. In the area of financial
                         management, AOC has contracted for the development of AOC-wide
                         accounting policies and procedures. For information security, in March
                         2002, AOC completed a partial risk assessment of its systems environment
                         focusing on systems controlled by its Office of Information Resource
                         Management (OIRM), and used that assessment to develop a security plan
                         to address the identified vulnerabilities. These efforts are helping AOC to
                         construct a sound foundation on which to build a high-performing
                         organization.

                         However, Standards for Internal Control in the Federal Government
                         reflects a broader approach to control that addresses, for example, how an
                         agency demonstrates its commitment to competence, how it assures
                         effective and efficient operations, how it communicates the information
                         needed throughout the agency to achieve all its objectives, and how it
                         monitors performance. As AOC moves forward in addressing the
                         management reforms we discuss in this report, it should consider how
                         adopting these standards for internal control could provide a strong
                         foundation for institutionalizing the organizational transformation under
                         way.

                         Internal control should provide reasonable assurance that the objectives of
                         the agency are being achieved in the following categories:

                         • effectiveness and efficiency of operations, including the use of the
                           entity’s resources;




                         2
                         See Pub. L. No.103-283, July 22, 1994, Sec. 312, Architect of the Capitol Human Resources
                         Act.




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                          • reliability of financial reporting, including reports on budget execution
                            and financial statements and other reports for internal and external use;
                            and

                          • compliance with applicable laws and regulations.

                          A subset of these objectives is the safeguarding of assets. Internal control
                          should be designed to provide reasonable assurance regarding prevention
                          of or prompt detection of unauthorized acquisition, use, or disposition of
                          an agency’s assets.



Internal Control Is a     Internal control is not one event, but a series of actions and activities that
Continuous, Built-in      occur throughout an entity’s operations and on an ongoing basis. Internal
                          control should be recognized as an integral part of each system that
Component of Operations
                          management uses to regulate and guide its operations rather than as a
                          separate system within an agency. In this sense, internal control is
                          management control that is built into the entity as a part of its
                          infrastructure to help managers run the entity and achieve their aims on an
                          ongoing basis.

                          People are what make internal control work. The responsibility for good
                          internal control rests with all managers. Management sets the objectives,
                          puts the control mechanisms and activities in place, and monitors and
                          evaluates the control. However, all personnel in the organization play
                          important roles in making it happen.



Framework for Internal    Five standards provide a general framework for the minimal level of quality
Control                   acceptable for internal control in government and provide the basis against
                          which internal control is to be evaluated:

                          • Control environment. Management and employees should establish
                            and maintain an environment throughout the organization that sets a
                            positive and supportive attitude toward internal control and
                            conscientious management. For example, as AOC implements its new
                            strategic planning process, it will need to demonstrate a positive and
                            supportive attitude toward performance-based management by using
                            the plan as the basis for all its programmatic decisions.

                          • Risk assessment. Internal control should provide for an assessment of
                            the risks the agency faces from both external and internal sources. For


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                         example, as part of AOC’s ongoing strategic planning process, AOC
                         needs to continually assess the risks to achieving its objectives, analyze
                         the risks, and determine what actions should be taken.

                      • Control activities. Internal control activities help ensure that
                        management’s directives are carried out. The control activities should
                        be effective and efficient in accomplishing the agency’s control
                        objectives. As AOC identifies areas for management improvements, it
                        also needs to define the policies, procedures, techniques, and
                        mechanisms it will use to enforce management’s directives. For
                        example, as AOC works to improve its information systems acquisition
                        management to standardize its acquisition processes, it will need to
                        establish control activities to ensure the processes are applied
                        consistently and correctly for each acquisition project.

                      • Information and communications. Information should be recorded
                        and communicated to management and others within the entity who
                        need it and in a form and within a time frame that enables them to carry
                        out their internal control and other responsibilities. For example, as
                        AOC develops new performance and financial information to support
                        program management, the information needs to be communicated in a
                        way that meets users needs and time frames.

                      • Monitoring. Internal control monitoring should assess the quality of
                        performance over time and ensure that the findings of audits and other
                        reviews are promptly resolved. For example, as AOC develops new
                        performance and financial information, it should ensure that this
                        information is both useful to and used by program managers for
                        purposes of managing program performance.



Strengthening Human   AOC is working towards transforming its culture and instituting regularized
                      personnel policies, procedures, and processes, but there are still areas for
Capital Policies,     improvement. In addition to internal control standards, we have found that
Procedures, and       there are key practices that can assist agencies in effectively using human
                      capital flexibilities. In broad terms, human capital flexibilities represent the
Processes             policies and procedures that an agency has the authority to implement in
                      managing its workforce to accomplish its mission and to achieve its goals.
                      These practices include educating managers and employees on the
                      availability and use of flexibilities, streamlining and improving
                      administrative processes, and building transparency and accountability
                      into the system.



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                           Comments from a majority of our focus group participants indicate that
                           supervisors are not perceived to have applied awards, overtime, and leave
                           policies consistently; that there was supervisory favoritism; and that grade
                           and pay levels are not consistent across jurisdictions and shifts. AOC has
                           been addressing these concerns by developing a comprehensive leave
                           policy and a strategy for communicating this policy, reviewing perceived
                           inequities in job classification, and issuing specific guidelines and
                           procedures for its employee awards program. AOC should continue to
                           develop consistent and transparent human capital policies and procedures
                           and communicate them. AOC has various offices and an employee council
                           engaged in improving employee relations. AOC’s senior managers could
                           benefit from comprehensively collecting and analyzing data from these
                           groups to allow it to determine its employee relations needs, and to
                           measure its progress in achieving its strategic human capital goals and
                           objectives. AOC has recently established its Office of the Ombudsperson,
                           but should realign the office’s reporting relationship directly to the
                           Architect to ensure that it is adhering to professional standards of
                           independence.



AOC Should Continue to     Effective organizations establish clear and consistent human capital
Develop and Communicate    policies and procedures with clearly stated expectations for both
                           employees and supervisors and ensure that there is accountability for
Consistent Human Capital   following these procedures accordingly. According to internal control
Policies and Procedures    standards, such consistent procedures help to create a control
                           environment that encourages employee trust in management.

                           A majority of our focus group participants perceived that supervisors
                           applied awards, overtime, and leave policies inconsistently and that there
                           was supervisory favoritism. For example, some employees stated that
                           supervisors determine on their own when an employee is entitled to sick or
                           annual leave and are not consistent when allowing some employees to take
                           off time from work. Others remarked that there were varying procedures
                           for signing into work and grace periods for lateness were not consistently
                           applied for every employee. Several employees commented that access to
                           working overtime was uneven and felt as if only favored employees had the
                           opportunity to work overtime. In addition, several employees believe that
                           favoritism resulted in uneven and unfair distribution of work, and that
                           hiring and promotions frequently are not based on qualifications and
                           experience but on personal connections.




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AOC has been addressing employees’ concerns by developing a
comprehensive leave policy and a strategy for communicating this policy.
According to AOC’s Director of HRMD, AOC has drafted an agencywide
comprehensive leave policy—which it expects to issue in November
2002—and is developing a strategy to communicate this policy internally.
The issuance of a comprehensive agencywide leave policy is one way in
which employees’ perceptions of inconsistent treatment by supervisors
could be diminished. The policy could also provide a mechanism to hold
supervisors and senior managers accountable for its fair and consistent
application.

Inconsistencies in grade and pay levels across jurisdictions and shifts was
another area of concern noted by a majority of the focus group
participants. The perception expressed in focus groups was that employees
in other AOC jurisdictions in similar positions and in other federal agencies
were classified at higher grade levels, even though their job duties were
similar. AOC’s HRMD Director told us that the division is aware that many
AOC employees are concerned about possible misclassification and has
received many requests from employees to review job classifications.3
According to AOC’s Employment and Classification Branch Chief, most of
the employees who have raised concerns about how their jobs are
classified have been upgraded. As a result, AOC is engaged in an ongoing
initiative to review certain position descriptions that have not been
updated for some time across jurisdictions and to reclassify them, if
needed.

Employee rewards and recognition programs are an important human
capital flexibility that is intended to provide appropriate motivation and
recognition for excellence in job performance and contributions to an
agency’s goals. In our December 2002 report on the effective use of human
capital flexibilities, we report that agencies must develop clear and
transparent guidelines for using flexibilities and then hold managers and
supervisors accountable for their fair and effective use, and that agency
managers and supervisors must be educated on the existence and use of
flexibilities. 4 The Architect’s Awards Program, which is AOC’s employee
rewards and recognition program, is in its second year of operation.

3
  AOC generally uses Office of Personnel Management General Schedule Qualifications
Standards for position classification.
4
U.S. General Accounting Office, Human Capital: Effective Use of Flexibilities Can Assist
Agencies in Managing Their Workforces, GAO-03-2 (Washington, D.C.: December 2002).




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                            However, several implementation issues remained to be resolved. For
                            example, a majority of the focus group participants felt that the program is
                            not applied consistently across the jurisdictions and shifts for all
                            employees. Some focus group participants also mentioned that they were
                            promised awards by their supervisors for their good work on projects but
                            never received them. Other views expressed by some members of the focus
                            groups were that awards might be distributed, but only to certain members
                            of a project team, even though everyone in the unit had worked on the
                            same project or that supervisors did not always want to fill out the
                            paperwork needed to make an award.

                            In March 2002, AOC issued a policy containing responsibilities and
                            procedures, for the administration of the employee rewards and
                            recognition program.5 However, as borne out by our focus group results,
                            supervisors may be applying this policy inconsistently. AOC can strengthen
                            and gain support for this program by holding managers and supervisors
                            accountable for the fair and effective use of its rewards and recognition
                            program as a useful tool for motivating and rewarding employees.



AOC Management Should       In April 2002, we stated that to improve labor-management relations, we
Comprehensively Collect     would explore the relationships between AOC’s various offices engaged in
                            addressing employee relations. Several AOC offices and one employee
and Analyze Data from       group provide employees with assistance in resolving disputes or in dealing
Employee Relations Groups   with other employment-related issues. These offices not only work to
                            resolve disputes, but are also in a position to alert management to systemic
                            problems and thereby help correct organizationwide issues and develop
                            strategies for preventing and managing conflict.

                            • The Equal Employment Opportunity and Conciliation Program Office
                              was created to include an affirmative employment program for
                              employees and applicants and procedures for monitoring progress by
                              AOC in ensuring a diverse workforce.6 The office serves to promote a
                              nondiscriminatory work environment and works to resolve employment
                              concerns informally.7


                            5
                             AOC’s Human Resources Manual, Order 451-1, March 14, 2002.
                            6
                             See Pub. L. No. 103-283, July 1994, Sec. 312, Architect of the Capitol Human Resources Act.
                            7
                             AOC Draft Memo from Acting EEO Director, AOC EEO/CP Annual Report, fiscal year 2000.




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• AOC’s Office of the Ombudsperson, formerly called the Employee
  Advocate, was staffed in 2002 and provides advice and counsel to non-
  bargaining-unit employees concerning employment policies,
  employment practices, or other employment-related matters. 8

• The AOC Employee Advisory Council (EAC), created in 1995, has
  renewed its efforts to ensure its role of providing a voice for AOC
  employees on workplace and safety issues, and is another avenue for
  non-bargaining-unit employees to bring their concerns to management.
  The EAC consists of AOC employees, and its purpose is to help address
  AOC policy, procedures, work products and methods, and other issues
  that relate to the overall efficiency and safety of the agency, as well as
  the fair treatment of employees.9

It is not clear whether there is a coordinated approach to tracking
agencywide patterns of employee relations issues among these offices and
the EAC. If this information were to be collected and analyzed by AOC’s
senior managers, it could provide a useful source of information to alert
management of the status of employee relations. The advantages of an
agencywide tracking method need to be balanced in a way so as not to
compromise employee confidentiality. As discussed in chapter 2, AOC has
established a strategic human capital goal and corresponding objectives
related to acquiring, developing, and retaining a talented and diverse
workforce. We believe that AOC senior managers could benefit from
gathering and analyzing these data, in conjunction with results from the
additional employee focus groups that AOC plans to conduct, to help
determine how well it is meeting its human capital strategic goal and
objectives.




8
 H.R. Conf. Rep. No. 106-796 at 41 (2000).
9
 AOC Memo, March 7, 2002, on EAC.




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                       In assessing the functions of these employee relations groups, we also
                       assessed the Ombudsperson position at AOC to determine whether it
                       adhered to the standards of practice for ombudsmen established by
                       professional organizations. Ombudsmen provide an informal option to deal
                       pragmatically with conflicts and other organizational climate issues. In
                       April 2001, we reported that ombudsmen are expected to conform to
                       professional standards of practice that revolve around the core principles
                       of independence, neutrality, and confidentiality.10 In our discussion with the
                       AOC Ombudsperson, she stated that she was familiar with the standards
                       for ombudsmen and that she provided services confidentially and neutrally.
                       According to AOC officials, the AOC Ombudsperson reports to the
                       Administrative Assistant to the Architect of the Capitol or his or her
                       authorized designate, but not directly to the Architect. In our April 2001
                       report, the Ombudsman Association Standards of Practice define
                       independence as functioning independent of line management, with the
                       ombudsman having a reporting relationship with the highest authority in an
                       organization. In addition, the American Bar Association’s ombudsman
                       standards for independence discuss that the ombudsman’s office must be
                       and appear to be free from interference in order to be credible and
                       effective. If the Ombudsperson were to directly report to the Architect and
                       not through another senior manager, the core principle of independence
                       would be strengthened.



Continue Improving     AOC faces significant challenges in building sound budget and financial
                       management functions into the culture of the organization. Accurate and
Financial Management   reliable budget formulation and execution and reliable financial accounting
to Support Program     and reporting are important basic functions of financial control and
                       accountability and provide a basis for supporting good program
Management             management. In the past, AOC has lacked reliable budgets for both projects
                       and operations and has lacked internal policies and procedures to
                       effectively monitor budget execution. In addition, AOC has lacked
                       accounting policies and procedures needed to properly account for and
                       report financial information especially in accounting for, controlling, and
                       reporting assets, including inventory. Moreover, AOC has not prepared
                       auditable financial statements.




                       10
                        U.S. General Accounting Office, Human Capital: The Role of Ombudsmen in Dispute
                       Resolution, GAO-01-466 (Washington, D.C.: April 13, 2001).




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A Chief Financial Officer (CFO) position was established at AOC, which
the Architect filled in January 2002, in response to direction from the
Subcommittee on Legislative Branch, Senate Committee on Appropriations
that AOC begin essential financial management reforms.11 The new CFO is
a member of the Architect’s Senior Policy Committee and, in carrying out
his role in establishing a foundation of financial control and accountability
at AOC, he is responsible for the activities of the Budget Office, the
Accounting Office, and the Financial Systems Office. Among his first
actions, the new CFO assembled a financial management team with the
experience needed to establish a strong foundation of financial control and
accountability by filling key budget and accounting officer positions.

As discussed in our executive guide on best practices in financial
management,12 a solid foundation of control and accountability requires a
system of checks and balances that provides reasonable assurance that an
entity’s transactions are appropriately recorded and reported, its assets
protected, its policies followed, and its resources used economically and
efficiently for the purposes intended. The CFO, who has endorsed the
executive guide as a road map for making improvements to financial
management at AOC, has recognized the need for this foundation of
financial control and accountability as well as the challenges his
organization faces in establishing such checks and balances AOC-wide.
Those challenges include

• developing and implementing effective budget formulation and
  execution policies and procedures that govern capital projects and
  operating activities AOC-wide,

• developing and implementing formal financial accounting and reporting
  policies and procedures and related operating procedures,

• developing and implementing internal controls and monitoring the
  reliability of financial information and safeguarding of assets,

• implementing and operating the new financial management system, and




11
     S. Rep. No. 107-37, at 29 (2001).
12
 U.S. General Accounting Office, Executive Guide: Creating Value Through World-class
Financial Management, GAO/AIMD-00-134 (Washington, D.C.: April 2000).




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• preparing auditable comprehensive entitywide financial statements.

In response to these challenges, the CFO has set a goal for AOC to prepare
auditable AOC-wide financial statements for the first time for fiscal year
2003 and has made measurable progress in this and other areas in
establishing a sound foundation of control and accountability at AOC. For
example, some of the financial management team’s achievements to date
include

• deploying phase two of the new accounting system AOC-wide, including
  continuing system support and periodic training;

• revising budget formulation guidance to include requirements for
  specific minimum detail needed to justify capital projects requested and
  support construction cost estimates;

• conducting an AOC-wide budget execution review to evaluate the
  effectiveness of AOC’s budget execution;

• conducting an AOC-wide inventory to establish a basis for closing
  accounting records for fiscal year 2002 and a establishing a beginning
  balance for fiscal year 2003;

• developing a basis for valuing and classifying certain AOC assets,
  including property and equipment; and

• contracting for the development of AOC-wide accounting policies and
  procedures needed to establish internal control and prepare first-time
  financial statements.

A significant factor in the achievements to date is the experience the new
financial team brings to AOC in carrying out the fundamentals of sound
financial management and the fact that the initiatives fall under the direct
control of the CFO. However, much work remains to be done on an AOC-
wide basis. Going forward, the CFO faces challenges, including

• having program managers routinely provide critical project justification
  and cost information and obligation plans;

• establishing AOC-wide accounting and control procedures, such as
  controls over the receipt and use of inventory; and




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                     • finding a way to interface financial information with the AOC Project
                       Information Center system.

                     Implementing these and other financial-control and accountability-related
                     initiatives will require the buy-in and support of key non-financial managers
                     and staff. As the finance team seeks to build a foundation of financial
                     accounting and control into the organization’s culture, top management
                     must demonstrate a commitment to making and supporting the needed
                     changes throughout the organization. As noted in our executive guide,
                     leading organizations identified leadership as the most important factor in
                     successfully making cultural changes.



AOC Could Benefit    IT can be a valuable tool in achieving an organization’s mission objectives.
                     Our research of leading private and public sector organizations shows that
from an Agencywide   these organizations’ executives have embraced the central role of IT to
and Disciplined      mission performance.13 More specifically, these executives no longer
                     regard IT as a separate support function, but rather view and treat it as an
Approach to IT       integral and enabling part of business operations. As such, they have
Management           adopted a corporate, or agencywide, approach to managing IT under the
                     leadership and control of a senior executive, who operates as a full partner
                     with the organization’s leadership team in charting the strategic direction
                     and making informed IT investment decisions.

                     Complementing a centralized leadership of IT management, leading
                     organizations have also implemented certain institutional or agencywide
                     management controls aimed at leveraging the vast potential of technology
                     in achieving mission outcomes. These management controls include using
                     a portfolio-based approach to IT investment decision making, using an
                     enterprise architecture, or blueprint, to guide and constrain IT investments,
                     following disciplined IT system acquisition and development management
                     processes, and proactively managing the security of IT assets.

                     AOC currently relies heavily on IT in achieving its mission objectives.14 As
                     an example, AOC uses the Computer Aided Facilities Management system
                     to request and fulfill work orders for maintenance of the Capitol and the


                     13
                      U.S. General Accounting Office, Maximizing the Success of Chief Information Officers:
                     Learning From Leading Organizations, GAO-01-376G, (Washington, D.C.: February 2001).
                     14
                          AOC has budgeted $13 million for IT systems in fiscal year 2003.




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                            surrounding grounds. In addition, it uses the Records Management system
                            to archive architectural drawings pertaining to the U.S. Capitol, Library of
                            Congress, Botanic Garden, and other buildings. According to AOC’s Chief
                            Administrative Officer, the agency’s reliance on IT will increase in the
                            future.

                            Despite the importance and prevalence of IT at AOC, the agency’s current
                            approach to managing IT is not consistent with leading practices, as is
                            described in the following five sections. Until AOC embraces the central
                            role of IT to mission performance and implements an agencywide and
                            disciplined approach to IT management, it is not positioned to optimize the
                            contribution of IT to agency mission performance.



AOC Needs a Senior          Our research of private and public sector organizations that effectively
Executive with Agencywide   manage IT shows that these organizations have adopted an agencywide
                            approach to managing IT under the leadership of a chief information officer
Responsibility and          or comparable senior executive, who has the responsibility and authority
Authority for IT            for managing IT across the agency.15 According to the research, these
Management                  executives function as members of the leadership team and are
                            instrumental in developing a shared vision for the role of IT in achieving
                            major improvements in business processes and operations to effectively
                            optimize mission performance. In this capacity, leading organizations also
                            provide these individuals with the authority they need to carry out their
                            diverse responsibilities by providing budget control and management
                            support for IT programs and initiatives.

                            Currently, AOC does not have a senior-level executive who is responsible
                            and accountable for IT management and spending across the agency, and
                            AOC does not centrally oversee IT, according to AOC’s OIRM Director.
                            Rather, budget and acquisition authority is vested in each AOC
                            organizational component that is acquiring a given IT asset. With such a
                            decentralized approach to IT management and spending, AOC does not
                            have an individual focused on how IT can best support the collective needs
                            of the agency, and thus is not positioned to effectively leverage IT as an
                            agencywide resource.




                            15
                                 GAO-01-376G.




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AOC Should Have an       If managed wisely, IT investments can vastly improve mission
Agencywide, Portfolio-   performance. If not, IT projects can be risky, costly, and unproductive
                         investments. Our best practices guide, based on research of private and
Based Approach to IT     public sector organizations that effectively manage their IT investments,
Investment Management    outlines a corporate, portfolio-based approach to IT investment decision
                         making that includes processes, practices, and activities for continually
                         and consistently selecting, controlling, and evaluating competing IT
                         investment options in a way that promotes the greatest value to the
                         strategic interest of the organization.16

                         The first major step to building a sound IT investment management process
                         is to be able to measure the progress of existing IT projects to identify
                         variances in cost, schedule, and performance expectations, and take
                         corrective action, if appropriate, and to establish basic capabilities for
                         selecting new IT proposals. To do this, the organization needs to establish
                         and implement processes and practices for (1) operating an IT investment
                         board responsible for selecting, controlling, and evaluating IT investments
                         and that includes both senior IT and business representatives, (2) providing
                         effective oversight for ongoing IT projects throughout all phases of their
                         life cycle, (3) identifying, tracking, and managing IT resources, (4) ensuring
                         that each IT project supports the organization’s business needs, and
                         (5) establishing criteria for selecting new IT proposals.

                         The second major step toward effective IT investment management
                         requires that an organization continually assess proposed and ongoing
                         projects as an integrated and competing set of investment options. That is,
                         the organization should consider each new investment part of an integrated
                         portfolio of investments that collectively contribute to mission goals and
                         objectives. To do this, the organization needs to establish and implement
                         processes and practices for (1) developing and implementing criteria to
                         select investments that will best support the organization’s strategic goals,
                         objectives, and mission, (2) using these criteria to consistently analyze and
                         prioritize all IT investments, (3) ensuring that the optimal IT investment
                         portfolio with manageable risks and returns is selected and funded, and



                         16
                          U.S. General Accounting Office, Information Technology Investment Management: A
                         Framework for Assessing and Improving Process Maturity, Version 1, GAO/AIMD-10.1.23
                         (Washington, D.C.: May 2000).




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(4) overseeing each IT investment within the portfolio to ensure that it
achieves its cost, benefit, schedule, and risk expectations.

AOC has not satisfied the components of either of these two major steps,
and as a result does not currently have an agencywide, portfolio-based
approach to IT investment management. For example, AOC has not
developed the processes and established the key management structures,
such as an investment review board, needed to manage and oversee IT
investments. However, according to the OIRM Director, he has several
activities under way to facilitate the agency’s movement to such an
approach, should AOC choose to do so. These include

• developing an IT capital planning and investment guide that is to define
  key elements of a portfolio-based approach to IT investment
  management and acquiring an automated tool to facilitate its
  implementation,

• introducing new IT budget categories and collecting corresponding
  fiscal year 2004 budget information to track and control IT
  investments,17 and

• reassessing the role of its Information Technology Standards and
  Architecture Committee, including how and when the committee
  reviews projects, what projects are reviewed, and what information is
  provided to the committee.18

Because the OIRM Director could not provide us with drafts or more
detailed information on these activities, characterizing them as under
development, we could not determine the extent to which these activities
address the basic tenets of effective IT management. However, these


17
  These categories are as follows: Infrastructure–-IT systems, including networks and
personal computers, that have an IT cost focus and are necessary for daily operation and
maintenance; Utility–-IT systems, including payroll and billing, that do not have a business
focus, but are mission-critical; Enhancement–IT systems that have a business focus, such as
supply chain management; and Frontier–IT systems, including e-commerce and customer
tracking, that improve business performance.
18
 The Information Technology Standards and Architecture Committee currently sets IT
policy relating to software and hardware standards and reviews agencywide IT projects for
conformance with architecture standards.




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                             activities are currently limited because they are confined to OIRM, which is
                             not positioned to implement effective IT investment management on its
                             own. Achieving an agencywide, portfolio-based approach to IT investment
                             management needs the full support and participation of AOC’s senior
                             leadership. Until this occurs, AOC will continue to be limited in its ability to
                             effectively leverage IT to achieve mission goals and objectives.



AOC Needs to Establish the   Our experience with federal agencies has shown that attempting to
Management Foundation to     modernize IT environments without an enterprise architecture to guide and
                             constrain investments often results in systems that are duplicative, not well
Effectively Develop an
                             integrated, unnecessarily costly to maintain and interface, and ineffective
Enterprise Architecture      in supporting mission goals. Managed properly, architectures can clarify
                             and help optimize the interdependencies and interrelationships among
                             related corporate operations and the underlying IT infrastructure and
                             applications that support them. The development, implementation, and
                             maintenance of architectures are recognized hallmarks of successful public
                             and private organizations that effectively leveraged IT in meeting their
                             mission goals.

                             An enterprise architecture—as defined in federal guidance, and as
                             practiced by leading public and private sector organizations—acts as a
                             blueprint and defines, both in logical terms (including business functions
                             and applications, work locations, information needs and users, and the
                             interrelationships among these variables) and in technical terms (including
                             IT hardware, software, data communications, and security) how the
                             organization operates today, how it intends to operate tomorrow, and a
                             road map for transitioning between the two states.19 This guidance also
                             defines a set of recognized key practices (management structures and
                             processes) for developing and implementing an enterprise architecture.
                             Among other things, these practices include the following:

                             • The head of the enterprise should recognize that the enterprise
                               architecture is a corporate asset for systematically managing
                               institutional change by supporting and sponsoring the architecture
                               effort and giving it a clear mandate in the form of an enterprise policy
                               statement. Such support is crucial to gaining the commitment of all



                             19
                              Chief Information Officers Council, A Practical Guide to Federal Enterprise Architecture,
                             version 1.0 (Washington, D.C.: February 2001).




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   organizational components of the enterprise, all of which should
   participate in developing and implementing the enterprise architecture.

• The enterprise architecture effort should be directed and overseen by an
  executive body, empowered by the head of the enterprise, with
  members who represent all stakeholder organizations and have the
  authority to commit resources and to make and enforce decisions for
  their respective organizations.

• An individual who serves as the chief enterprise architect, and reports to
  either a chief information officer or comparable senior executive,
  should lead the enterprise architecture effort and manage it as a formal
  program. A formal program entails creating a program office,
  committing core staff, implementing a program management plan that
  details a work breakdown structure and schedule, allocating resources
  and tools, performing basic program management functions (e.g., risk
  management, change control, quality assurance, and configuration
  management), and tracking and reporting progress against measurable
  goals.

• The enterprise architecture should conform to a specified framework.

AOC does not have an enterprise architecture or the management
foundation needed to successfully develop one. Thus far, AOC’s
architecture activities are confined to OIRM, and they consist of meeting
with peer agencies, such as the U.S. Capitol Police, to learn about their
architecture development experiences, and selecting a framework to use in
developing the architecture. OIRM officials also told us that they are
finalizing an approach for developing the architecture.

AOC has much to do and accomplish before it will have either the means
for developing an architecture or the architecture itself. Central to what
remains to be done is AOC’s executive leadership providing a clear
mandate for the architecture and for managing its development consistent
with recognized best practices and federal guidance. To do less risks
producing an incomplete architecture that is not used to effectively guide
and direct business and technology change to optimize agencywide
performance.




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AOC Should Define and         Our experience with federal agencies has shown that the failure to
Implement Institutional       implement rigorous and disciplined acquisition and development processes
                              can lead to systems that do not perform as intended, are delivered late, and
Processes for Acquiring and   cost more than planned. The use of disciplined processes and controls
Developing IT Systems         based on well-defined and rigorously enforced policies, practices, and
                              procedures for system acquisition and development can reduce that risk.
                              Such processes for managing system acquisition/development are defined
                              in various published models and guides, such as Carnegie Mellon
                              University’s Software Engineering Institute’s Capability Maturity ModelSM.20
                              Examples of key processes from this model include the following:

                              • Requirements management describes processes for establishing and
                                maintaining a common and unambiguous definition of requirements
                                among the acquisition team, the system users, and the software
                                development contractor. Requirements management includes
                                documenting policies and procedures for managing requirements,
                                documenting and validating requirements, and establishing baselines
                                and controlling changes to the requirements.

                              • Test management describes processes for ensuring that the
                                software/system performs according to the requirements and that it
                                fulfills its intended use when placed in its intended environment. Test
                                management includes developing a test plan, executing the plan,
                                documenting and reporting test results, and analyzing test results and
                                taking corrective actions.

                              • Configuration management describes processes for establishing and
                                maintaining the integrity of work products throughout the life cycle
                                process. Configuration management includes developing a
                                configuration management plan; identifying work products to be
                                maintained and controlled; establishing a repository or configuration
                                management system for tracking work products; and approving,
                                tracking, and controlling changes to the products.

                              • Quality assurance describes processes for providing independent
                                verification of the requirements and processes for developing and
                                producing the software/system. Quality assurance includes developing a

                              20
                               Carnegie Mellon Software Engineering Institute, Software Acquisition Capability
                              Maturity Model, version 1.03, (March 2002), and Software Capability Maturity Model,
                              version 1.1 (February 1993).




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   quality assurance plan, determining applicable processes and product
   standards to be followed, and conducting reviews to ensure that the
   product and process standards are followed.

• Risk management describes processes for identifying potential
  problems before they occur and adjusting the acquisition to mitigate the
  chances of the problems occurring. Risk management includes
  developing a project risk management plan; identifying and prioritizing
  potential problems; implementing risk mitigation strategies, as required;
  and tracking and reporting progress against the plans.

• Contract tracking and oversight describes processes for ensuring that
  the contractor performs according to the terms of the contract. Contract
  tracking and oversight includes developing a plan for tracking
  contractor activities, measuring contractor performance and conducting
  periodic reviews, and conducting internal reviews of tracking and
  oversight activities.

OIRM has defined some of these key processes, but it has not defined
others, and some that are defined are not complete. Moreover, the
processes that have been defined have not been adopted and implemented
agencywide. In 1995, OIRM developed its Information Systems Life Cycle
Directive that defines policies and procedures for software development
and acquisition. This directive fully addresses the tenets of two key process
areas—requirements management and test management—and partly
addresses the tenets of two other areas— quality assurance and
configuration management. For example, for quality assurance, the
directive includes the need to conduct quality assurance reviews to ensure
that product and process standards are followed; however, it does not
address the need to first identify the process and product standards to be
followed or the development of a quality assurance plan. Similarly, for
configuration management, the directive includes requirements for
developing and executing a plan; identifying work products to be
maintained and controlled; and tracking, controlling, and releasing work
products and items. However, it does not include requirements for a
repository or for a configuration management system that supports
tracking and controlling changes to work products. Finally, the directive
does not address two key process areas—risk management and contract
tracking and oversight.

The OIRM Director told us that OIRM plans to improve its directive and
acquire tools to facilitate its implementation. These efforts, if properly



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                        implemented and adopted, could allow AOC to institutionalize disciplined
                        processes for system development and acquisition management. Until AOC
                        implements agencywide, disciplined processes for managing the
                        development and acquisition of IT systems, it risks investing in systems
                        that do not perform as intended, are delivered late, and cost more than
                        planned.



AOC Should Develop an   Effective information security management is critical to AOC’s ability to
Effective Information   ensure the reliability, availability, and confidentiality of its information
                        assets, and thus its ability to perform its mission. If effective information
Security Program
                        security practices are not in place, AOC’s data and systems are at risk of
                        inadvertent or deliberate misuse, fraud, improper disclosure, or
                        destruction—possibly without detection. Our research of public and
                        private sector organizations recognized as having strong information
                        security programs shows that their programs include (1) establishing a
                        central focal point with appropriate resources, (2) continually assessing
                        business risks, (3) implementing and maintaining policies and controls,
                        (4) promoting awareness, and (5) monitoring and evaluating policy and
                        control effectiveness. 21

                        AOC has taken important steps to establish an effective information
                        security program, but much remains to be done. In May 2001, the OIRM
                        Director established and filled an IT security officer position. The officer’s
                        responsibilities include planning and coordinating security risk
                        assessments, developing IT security policies, conducting security training,
                        and evaluating the effectiveness of IT security policies and controls. In
                        March 2002, the Security Officer completed a partial risk assessment of
                        AOC’s systems environment focusing on systems that are controlled by
                        OIRM, and used that assessment to develop a security plan to address the
                        identified vulnerabilities. The plan contains steps to develop user access
                        and network administrator account policies, as well as a security
                        awareness and training program.




                        21
                         U.S. General Accounting Office, Executive Guide: Information Security Management,
                        Learning From Leading Organizations, GAO/AIMD-98-68 (Washington, D.C.: May 1998),
                        and Information Security Risk Assessment: Practices of Leading Organizations, A
                        Supplement to GAO’s May 1998 Executive Guide on Information Security Management,
                        GAO/AIMD-00-33 (Washington, D.C.: November 1999).




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                      However, the Security Officer has since resigned and the position is vacant.
                      Moreover, because the Security Officer was the only staff member
                      dedicated to these tasks, the OIRM Director stated that AOC has yet to
                      begin addressing the tasks outlined in the security plan. Currently, AOC is
                      attempting to hire a new security officer and plans to hire an information
                      systems security specialist. Until AOC addresses the elements of an
                      effective security program, it will not be in a position to effectively
                      safeguard its data and information assets.



Conclusions           The effectiveness with which AOC can use the elements of the
                      management and accountability framework—strategic planning,
                      organizational alignment, improved internal and external communications,
                      performance management, and strategic human capital management—to
                      achieve organizational transformation will depend in part on its ability to
                      focus on management improvement in its day-to-day operations. A key
                      factor in helping AOC to better achieve its mission and program outcomes
                      and identify and manage risks while leveraging opportunities is to
                      implement and strengthen appropriate internal controls. As it transforms
                      the agency, AOC will need to ensure that it adopts management controls by
                      (1) further developing and consistently applying transparent human capital
                      policies and procedures, (2) continuing to improve its approach to
                      budgeting and financial management to support effective and efficient
                      program management, and (3) adopting an agency wide approach to IT
                      management to position itself to optimize the contribution of IT to agency
                      mission performance.



Recommendations for   In order to continue to develop a management infrastructure and
                      strengthen appropriate management controls, we recommend that the
Agency Action         Architect of the Capitol take the following actions:

                      Strengthen AOC’s human capital policies, procedures, and processes by

                      • continuing to develop and implement agencywide human capital
                        policies and procedures, and holding management and employees
                        accountable for following these policies and procedures;

                      • assessing ways in which AOC management could better gather and
                        analyze data from the various employee relations offices and EAC while
                        maintaining employee confidentiality; and



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• establishing a direct reporting relationship between the Ombudsperson
  and the Architect, consistent with professional standards.

Continue to improve AOC’s approach to financial management by
developing strategies to institutionalize financial management practices
that will support budgeting, financial, and program management at AOC.
Such strategies could include developing performance goals and measures
and associated roles aimed at increasing the accountability of non-financial
managers and staff, such as jurisdictional superintendents, program
managers, and other AOC staff—whose support is critical to the success of
AOC’s financial management initiatives—and ensuring that these staff
receive the training needed to effectively carry out their roles and
responsibilities.

Adopt an agencywide approach to IT management by doing the following:

• Establishing a chief information officer, or comparable senior executive,
  with the responsibility, authority, and adequate resources for managing
  IT across the agency, who is a full participant in AOC’s senior decision-
  making processes, and has clearly defined roles, responsibilities, and
  accountabilities.

• Developing and implementing IT investment management processes
  with the full support and participation of AOC’s senior leadership.
  Specifically, the Architect must develop a plan for developing and
  implementing the investment management processes, as appropriate,
  that are outlined in our IT investment guide. 22 At a minimum, the plan
  should specify measurable tasks, goals, time frames, and resources
  required to develop and implement the processes. The Architect should
  focus first on the management processes associated with controlling
  existing IT projects and establishing the management structures to
  effectively implement an IT management process.




22
     GAO/AIMD-10.1.23.




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• Developing, implementing, and maintaining an enterprise architecture
  to guide and constrain IT projects throughout AOC. The Architect
  should implement the practices, as appropriate, as outlined in the Chief
  Information Officer Council’s architecture management guide.23 As a
  first step, the Architect should establish the management structure for
  developing, implementing, and maintaining an enterprise architecture
  by implementing the following actions:

     • developing an agencywide policy statement providing a clear
       mandate for developing, implementing, and maintaining the
       architecture;

     • establishing an executive body composed of stakeholders from AOC
       mission-critical programs offices to guide the strategy for developing
       the enterprise architecture and ensure agency support and resources
       for it; and

     • designating an individual who serves as a chief enterprise architect to
       develop policy and lead the development of the enterprise
       architecture, and manage it as a formal program.

• Requiring disciplined and rigorous processes for managing the
  development and acquisition of IT systems, and implementing the
  processes throughout AOC. Specifically, these processes should include
  the following:

     • quality assurance processes, including developing a quality
       assurance plan and identifying applicable process and product
       standards that will be used in developing and assessing project
       processes and products;

     • configuration management processes, including establishing a
       repository or configuration management system to maintain and
       control configuration management items;

     • risk management processes, including developing a project risk
       management plan, identifying and prioritizing potential problems,



23
 Chief Information Officers Council, A Practical Guide to Federal Enterprise Architecture,
version 1.0 (Washington, D.C.: February 2001).




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                            implementing risk mitigation strategies, as required, and tracking and
                            reporting progress against the plans; and

                        • contract tracking and oversight processes, including developing a
                          plan for tracking contractor activities, measuring contractor
                          performance and conducting periodic reviews, and conducting
                          internal reviews of tracking and oversight activities.

                  • Establishing and implementing an information security program.
                    Specifically, the Architect should establish an information security
                    program by taking the following steps:

                        • designate a security officer and provide him or her with the authority
                          and resources to implement an agencywide security program;

                        • develop and implement policy and guidance to perform risk
                          assessments continually;

                        • use the results of the risk assessments to develop and implement
                          appropriate controls;

                        • develop policies for security training and awareness and provide the
                          training; and

                        • monitor and evaluate policy and control effectiveness. 24



Agency Comments   In his comments on this chapter, the Architect generally agreed with our
                  recommendations and discussed the relevant efforts AOC has under way in
                  the areas of human capital policies, financial management, and IT
                  management. For example, the Architect stated that AOC has formed a
                  team including representatives from all key offices and employee groups to
                  explore the development of a confidential process to track employee
                  relations issues agencywide. In the area of financial management, the
                  Architect underscored a number of initiatives under way, including the
                  piloting of financial management training for line managers and staff and
                  indicated that AOC’s implementation plan will include a strategy for
                  incorporating financial management best practices throughout AOC.


                  24
                       GAO/AIMD-98-68.




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Finally, the Architect stated that IT is a key enabler of AOC’s strategy for
organizational improvement and that OIRM will work closely with the
Senior Policy Committee to establish an agencywide approach to IT
management. The Architect cautioned that fully implementing the
information technology framework that we laid out will take considerable
time, but that AOC’s implementation plan will include a more specific
approach to developing and implementing this framework. The Architect’s
comments are reprinted in appendix II.




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                                                                                                    r




              In the preceding chapters, we discussed the need for the Office of the
              Architect of the Capitol (AOC) to put in place the management and
              accountability framework needed for organizational transformation—
              leadership, strategic planning, organizational alignment, communications,
              and performance measurement—and the management infrastructure of
              financial, information technology, and other controls that support the
              transformation. The management and accountability framework needed
              for transformation and the management infrastructure of financial,
              information technology, and other controls cut across AOC’s programs and
              influence its performance in all areas critical to achieving its mission.
              Improvements in these areas can also ameliorate the performance of
              program areas of long-standing concern to AOC’s employees and
              congressional stakeholders—worker safety, project management, and
              recycling. In recent years, AOC has had among the highest worker injury
              rates in the federal government. Furthermore, AOC’s annual appropriations
              for capital projects have increased substantially in recent years, placing
              AOC at greater risk of project delays and cost overruns. Finally, high rates
              of contamination of recyclable materials continue to detract from
              accomplishing the environmental goals of AOC’s recycling programs.

              AOC has made recent progress in all these areas. However, significant
              opportunities exist to build on this progress to bring about significant,
              lasting performance improvements. For example, the Architect has
              declared that safety is the agency’s number one priority and established a
              target for reducing injuries. Nonetheless, relating safety to other pressing
              priorities and developing a clear strategy for how working safely will
              become the cultural norm, is still a work in progress at AOC. Similarly, AOC
              has adopted industry best practices for project management, but
              implementation is uneven and hampered by weaknesses in leadership,
              performance and financial management, priority setting, communication,
              and strategic management of human capital. Finally, although AOC has
              recently made improvements to the House and Senate recycling programs,
              contamination of recycled materials remains high, and the goals for the
              overall program remain unclear.




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AOC’s Worker Safety                                               Worker safety at AOC has been the subject of congressional scrutiny for the
                                                                  past several years because AOC had higher injury and illness rates than
Efforts Are Substantial,                                          many other federal agencies and substantially higher rates than the federal
but AOC Needs to                                                  government as a whole, as seen in table 1.
Develop a Strategic
Approach to Achieve a
Safer Workplace


Table 1: Federal Agencies with the Highest Injury and Illness Rates, Fiscal Years 1999 through 2001


                        1999                                                              2000                                           2001
Agency                                             Rate        Agency                                     Rate      Agency                                      Rate
All federal government                              3.91       All federal government                      3.95     All federal government                      3.98
Immigration and Naturalization                    14.14        Architect of the Capitol                  17.90      Presidio Trust                             14.97
Service
Architect of the Capitol                          14.11        Immigration and Naturalization            14.04      Immigration and Naturalization
                                                               Service                                              Service                                    13.44
Bureau of Engraving and                           12.76        U.S. Mint                                 13.47      Architect of the Capitol                   11.02
Printing
National Park Service                             12.16        Bureau of Indian Affairs                  12.69      National Park Service                      10.92

U.S. Mint                                         10.52        Bureau of Engraving and                   12.28      U.S. Mint                                  10.38
                                                               Printing
Source: U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).

                                                                  Note: Job related injuries and illnesses per 100 employees as recorded under the Federal Employees’
                                                                  Compensation Act program.


                                                                  The Architect responded to these concerns by declaring safety the agency’s
                                                                  top priority and undertaking a number of initiatives that correspond to the
                                                                  components of an effective safety program, as identified by safety experts
                                                                  and federal safety agencies. These core components include management
                                                                  commitment, employee involvement, identification, analysis and
                                                                  development of controls for problem jobs, education and training, and
                                                                  medical management. Key among AOC’s activities is the planned
                                                                  development and implementation, by 2005, of about 43 specialized safety
                                                                  programs on topics ranging from handling asbestos to working safely in
                                                                  confined spaces. These programs are designed to help AOC comply with
                                                                  federal safety and health regulations. Fifteen of these specialized programs




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                              have been approved; none have yet been fully implemented across all of
                              AOC’s jurisdictions.

                              AOC’s efforts are commendable and AOC employees who participated in
                              our focus groups noted positive changes in worker safety. As a next step,
                              AOC needs to integrate the safety goals in its draft Safety Master Plan with
                              AOC’s strategic goals in its overall strategic plan, and to develop
                              performance measures to assess its progress in achieving these goals. The
                              Director of AOC’s Safety, Fire, and Environmental Programs, who oversees
                              AOC’s workplace safety program, has acknowledged that the two strategic
                              planning efforts must be further integrated. Also, AOC has established
                              mechanisms to foster employee involvement, such as encouraging
                              employees to report job-related injuries and hazards. Building on these
                              efforts, AOC needs to establish a formal mechanism for reporting to ensure
                              complete reporting of hazards. AOC’s approach to identifying, analyzing,
                              and developing controls for problem jobs is inconsistent and does not
                              ensure that all workplace hazards are being addressed. Moreover, AOC has
                              provided a significant amount of training to its employees, but the training
                              activities could be better linked to AOC’s safety goal of changing its
                              workplace culture to increase staff awareness, commitment, and
                              involvement in safety and health. Finally, AOC’s medical management
                              activities could be better coordinated with the worker safety program, so
                              that information about workplace injuries and illnesses could be more
                              widely shared and used to better target prevention efforts.



Effective Safety and Health   Safety experts and federal safety agencies agree that, to build an effective
Programs Depend on a Set      safety program, organizations must take a strategic approach to managing
                              workplace safety and health. This objective is generally accomplished by
of Core Components            establishing a safety program built upon a set of six core program
                              components, which, together, help an organization lay out what it is trying
                              to achieve, assess progress, and ensure that safety policies and procedures
                              are appropriate and effective. The six core components of an effective
                              safety and health program are (1) management commitment, (2) employee
                              involvement, (3) identification of problem jobs, (4) analysis and
                              development of controls for problem jobs, (5) education and training, and
                              (6) medical management. Table 2 lists these components, along with a
                              description of the key activities upon which each component is built.




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Table 2: Components of an Effective Safety and Health Program and How They Are Demonstrated


Componenta                         Supporting activities
Management                         • Establish goals for the program, collect reliable data, and evaluate results.
commitment                         • Establish program responsibilities of managers and employees for safety and health in the workplace and hold
                                     them accountable for carrying out those responsibilities.
                                   • Communicate to the staff the program’s importance.
Employee involvement               • Establish mechanisms to get employees involved in the program, such as creating committees or teams to
                                     receive information on problem jobs or areas.
                                   • Establish procedures for employees to report job-related fatalities, injuries, illnesses, incidents, and hazards;
                                     ensure that employees are not discouraged from reporting job-related fatalities, injuries, illnesses, incidents,
                                     and hazards.
                                   • Establish regular channels of communication with employees regarding worker safety issues.
Identification of                  • Follow up on employee reports of fatalities, injuries, illnesses, incidents, and hazards.
problem jobs                       • Review injury logs or other data to identify problem areas.
                                   • Conduct inspections of the workplace to identify incidents and hazards causing injuries, illnesses, or fatalities.
Analysis and            • Through investigation or other analysis, identify hazards present in problem jobs.
development of controls • Develop controls for problem jobs by brainstorming with employees or other methods.
for problem jobs        • Follow up to ensure that hazards are abated and controls are effective.
Education and training             • Provide general awareness training to all employees so they can recognize hazards and risks; learn
                                     procedures for reporting job-related fatalities, injuries, illnesses, incidents, and hazards; and become familiar
                                     with the program.
                                   • Provide targeted training to specified groups of employees because of the jobs they hold, the hazards they
                                     face, or their roles in the program.
Medical managementb                • Encourage early reporting of symptoms and ensure that employees do not fear reprisal or discrimination.
                                   • Ensure a prompt evaluation by a medical provider.
                                   • Provide employees who have work-related medical conditions with restricted or light duty employment.
Sources: OSHA, Safety and Health Program Management Guidelines, Issuance of Voluntary Guidelines, Federal Register 54:3904-3916 (Washington, D.C.: Jan. 26, 1989) and U.S. General Accounting
Office, Private Sector Ergonomics Programs Yield Positive Results, GAO/HEHS-97-163 (Washington, D.C.: Aug. 27, 1997).
                                                                  a
                                                                   Different terminology is often used to describe these components. For example, identification of
                                                                  problem jobs is sometimes referred to as hazard identification and assessment. Analysis and
                                                                  development of controls for problem jobs is sometimes referred to as hazard prevention and control.
                                                                  The terms used here are identical to those used in our prior work.
                                                                  b
                                                                   An organization may have a medical management program without necessarily having a safety and
                                                                  health program.




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                             Our April 2002 statement assessed AOC’s efforts in implementing the first
                             four components. Since that time, we have assessed AOC’s activities in the
                             remaining two areas: education and training and medical management. We
                             also met with DuPont Safety Resources1 and the Department of Defense to
                             discuss best practices in worker safety.



Management Commitment:       AOC has undertaken a number of actions that demonstrate its commitment
Safety Program’s             to worker safety. As a next step, it needs to develop safety program goals
                             that are integrated with broader agency goals. In an effort to highlight the
Importance Has Been          importance of worker safety, the Architect proclaimed safety to be the
Communicated, but Goals      agency’s top priority in fiscal year 2001, and established the goal of
Need to Be Integrated with   reducing total injuries and illnesses by 10 percent each year through fiscal
Agency Goals and             year 2005. As we reported in April 2002, AOC further demonstrated its
Performance Measures         commitment by devoting additional resources to safety, such as increasing
Need to Be Developed         staffing levels in its central safety office and assigning safety staff to seven
                             of its eight jurisdictions. Additionally, AOC has consulted with the
                             Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration
                             (OSHA)2 on how to record illnesses and injuries and with the congressional
                             Office of Compliance on how to comply with OSHA requirements. AOC has
                             also contracted with DuPont Safety Resources to provide a baseline
                             assessment of AOC’s safety activities and to provide best practices
                             briefings for AOC senior executives and safety specialists for adopting a
                             safety culture, including key components of an effective safety and health
                             program. AOC has also contracted with the Department of Health and
                             Human Services’ Public Health Service (PHS),3 which is developing AOC’s


                             1
                               DuPont Safety Resources is a part of DuPont’s Safety and Protection business segment,
                             which provides consulting and training services on worker safety, contractor safety,
                             ergonomics, and asset effectiveness to public and private sector customers.
                             2
                               OSHA was established under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 to “Assure so
                             far as possible every working man and woman in the Nation safe and healthful working
                             conditions.” This mandate involves the application of a set of tools by OSHA (e.g., standards
                             development, enforcement, and compliance assistance), which enable employers to
                             maintain safe and healthful workplaces.
                             3
                              According to the PHS, it is one of the nation’s seven uniformed services and consists of
                             approximately 6,000 officers, who serve under the leadership of the U.S. Surgeon General.
                             Its mission is to provide highly trained and mobile health professionals who carry out
                             programs to promote the health of the nation, understand and prevent disease and injury,
                             assure safe and effective drugs and medical devices, deliver health services to federal
                             beneficiaries, and furnish health expertise in times of war or other national or international
                             emergencies.




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43 specialized safety programs, providing safety training, and identifying
hazards associated with AOC job tasks. AOC is developing a 5-year Safety
Master Plan that, when completed, is to be used as a road map to identify
its safety goals and philosophy, establish priorities, assign responsibilities,
and identify project and funding needs. AOC employees who participated
in our focus groups also noted positive changes in communicating worker
safety. Many participants felt that AOC takes safety-related incidents
seriously and that there has been an increased emphasis on safety.

To achieve a safer workplace, AOC needs to integrate the safety goals in its
draft Safety Master Plan with the strategic goals in its draft Strategic Plan.
The Director of AOC’s Safety Program has acknowledged that as a next
step, the two strategic planning efforts must be integrated. Private sector
best practices indicate that an organization needs safety goals that are
consistent and integrated with other organizational goals. Safety goals
should be well integrated into the organizational culture so that it becomes
second nature for employees to perform all tasks safely, and so that there is
little tolerance for unsafe work practices.

AOC has not yet developed performance measures to assess progress in
achieving these safety goals. AOC officials have indicated that the
development and implementation of the 43 specialized safety programs is
their primary focus, and they plan to implement all of these programs by
fiscal year 2005. Although 15 of these programs have been written and
approved by the Architect, the standard operating procedures that are
needed to fully implement these programs in the jurisdictions have not
been approved. AOC’s draft Safety Master Plan currently provides
information about the development and expected approval dates for the
remaining programs, but does not provide other milestones or performance
measures for the full implementation of these programs in the jurisdictions,
including the anticipated time frames for developing and approving the
standard operating procedures. Identifying interim milestones would help
AOC assess its progress in achieving its fiscal year 2005 completion target
and underscore for AOC employees and external stakeholders the
importance AOC places on worker safety.




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The only performance measure that AOC has developed for assessing the
worker safety program is a 10 percent reduction in injuries. This measure
was based on a general sense of how much of a reduction would be
achievable overall and how high the goal should be to motivate
improvements. As we reported in April 2002, AOC is measuring its progress
in achieving this reduction using the number of claims for compensation
for workplace injuries and illnesses under the Federal Workers’
Compensation Program. However, it provides an incomplete picture of the
overall level of safety because the number of claims in any organization can
be affected by factors not directly related to safety, such as poor morale
among employees or a lack of knowledge about how or when to file a
claim. Also, the use of these data as a measure of safety program
performance is not directly comparable to key measures used in the private
sector, which uses “OSHA recordables” to assess worker safety.4 We
reported in April 2002 that AOC had begun to collect these data on a limited
basis. Since that time, AOC has begun to develop a more standardized
approach to collect and track OSHA recordables. AOC is also trying to
formalize partnerships with the Office of Compliance and OSHA to provide
technical assistance that could facilitate standardizing these data.

Moreover, AOC employees at all levels need to be held accountable for
achieving the safety goals. For example, the first goal in AOC’s draft Safety
Master Plan—providing a safe and healthful environment through the
identification and elimination of hazards—has as an objective to ensure
that all facilities, processes, and equipment include safety considerations in
their design, development, and implementation to eliminate hazards. Yet, at
this stage, AOC has not fully linked employee performance with the
achievement of these safety goals and objectives. For example, there was a
recurring observation made by focus group participants that time
constraints to complete jobs and supervisory pressure adversely affect
attention to safety. Although the incentive to focus on safety has been built
into the performance appraisal system for employees, it is not addressed
for senior managers and does not apply to employees who do not
participate in AOC’s performance appraisal system.

We also reported in April 2002 that AOC needed to clearly define roles,
responsibilities, and authorities of safety personnel at the central and


4
 An OSHA recordable is any work-related injury or illness that results in death, loss of
consciousness, days away from work, restricted work activity or transfer, or medical
treatment beyond first aid.




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                              jurisdictional levels. According to the central and jurisdictional safety
                              staffs, AOC has now clearly defined their respective roles and
                              responsibilities. However, it is still unclear how they are being held
                              accountable for achieving the safety program’s goals. The central safety
                              office staff are responsible for the overall management of the 43 specialized
                              programs, and they rely on the jurisdictional safety specialists to develop
                              the specific procedures necessary for AOC to fully implement these
                              programs. The jurisdictional safety specialists report to jurisdictional
                              superintendents and not to the Director of Safety, Fire, and Environmental
                              Programs, and they have other safety responsibilities and tasks, such as
                              training and investigating accidents and injuries. Because jurisdictional
                              safety specialists must focus on safety priorities as established by
                              superintendents and line managers in their jurisdictions, they have limited
                              time to spend on developing procedures to implement the specialized
                              safety programs.



Employee Involvement:         AOC has a number of mechanisms to obtain employee involvement in its
AOC Has Established           safety program and encourages employees to report injuries and hazards.
                              AOC now needs to establish a formal reporting mechanism in order to
Mechanisms for                provide assurance that these safety data are complete. AOC has established
Involvement, but Complete     employee safety committees at both the jurisdictional and senior
Reporting of Hazards Is Not   management levels. The jurisdictional committees, referred to as
Assured                       Jurisdictional Occupational Safety and Health committees, include
                              frontline employees and jurisdictional specialists who perform a variety of
                              activities ranging from training to accident investigations. The senior
                              management committee, referred to as the Safety, Health, and
                              Environmental Council, or SHEC, consists of superintendents and AOC
                              safety staff. This committee meets quarterly and addresses various topics
                              on an ad hoc basis. As we reported in April 2002, establishing these
                              committees is a positive step toward achieving employee involvement. In
                              its baseline assessment of AOC, DuPont Safety Resources cited these
                              mechanisms as a strength of the agency’s worker safety program.

                              Employee involvement also includes establishing procedures for
                              employees to report job-related illnesses, injuries, incidents, and hazards
                              and encouraging them to do so. In April 2002, the Architect issued a
                              memorandum encouraging employees to report all injuries and illnesses,
                              regardless of severity. Many of the focus group participants indicated that
                              they generally felt comfortable reporting injuries, incidents, and hazards.
                              However, there were participants in some focus groups who indicated that
                              they were hesitant to report hazards because they were not sure how



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                                seriously their supervisors would treat these reports. Many participants
                                commented that they did not feel protected from safety and health hazards.
                                For example, some participants said that they were not adequately
                                prepared to deal with hazardous substances. In that respect, policies and
                                procedures for reporting accidents should also apply to hazards and other
                                conditions that may lead to accidents. The recent implementation of a
                                performance appraisal system that holds frontline employees under this
                                system accountable for observing and promptly reporting safety issues to
                                supervisors is a very encouraging step. If effectively implemented, this
                                appraisal system will also help ensure that employees will be encouraged
                                to report hazards, that supervisors will take those reports seriously, and
                                that senior managers will be accountable for acting on these reports.



Identification, Analysis, and   AOC has a number of procedures in place to identify the underlying
Development of Controls         hazards that make jobs dangerous and to develop remedies for those
                                hazards. However, these efforts are inconsistent and do not ensure that
for Problem Jobs: AOC’s         corrective actions are taken to eliminate hazards and prevent future
Inconsistent Approach Does      injuries and illnesses. A comprehensive, consistently implemented system
Not Ensure a Risk-Based         is critical to providing AOC with the assurance that its efforts are risk
Approach to Addressing          based—targeted directly toward identifying and abating those factors
Workplace Hazards               leading to the most severe and frequent incidents, accidents, and hazards.

                                We reported in April 2002 that AOC has provided some assurance that
                                accidents are being investigated and hazards addressed by placing safety
                                specialists in several jurisdictions. Yet, there is no consistent AOC-wide
                                system for conducting investigations and follow-up to ensure that workers
                                across the jurisdictions are receiving the same level of protection. In the
                                absence of an AOC-wide system, we found that some of the jurisdictions
                                have (1) developed their own specific procedures for conducting
                                investigations, (2) involved different staff members in the investigations,
                                and (3) developed their own forms to gather accident or incident data.
                                However, there were a few focus group participants who questioned
                                whether sufficient controls existed to ensure that supervisors acted on all
                                reports, particularly those that are not documented. We found that only two
                                of AOC’s eight jurisdictions have procedures for tracking hazard reports
                                and the follow-up actions taken to address those reports, even when there
                                has not been an accident. In the absence of consistent AOC-wide processes
                                for conducting investigations, we found generally ad hoc or infrequent
                                efforts to use existing information from either the internal workers’
                                compensation database or from other sources to look for common problem
                                areas to identify potentially hazardous jobs.



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                              Because AOC has not yet established an agencywide procedure to ensure
                              that all jurisdictions perform at least a basic level of investigation and data
                              gathering, it does not have the means for assuring that actual and potential
                              causes of accidents will be abated. DuPont Safety Resources also found
                              that AOC could improve its investigation process, and in 1998, the Office of
                              Compliance recommended that AOC develop a system to routinely
                              investigate accidents or hazardous situations and to ensure that hazards
                              are corrected.

                              AOC has recognized the need to have better information on problem jobs
                              and is beginning to make several improvements in this area. For example,
                              AOC has contracted with PHS to conduct agencywide job hazard analyses.
                              Eventually, this information on job hazards will be integrated with the
                              agency’s Computer Aided Facility Management System, although AOC has
                              not set a date for when this will be accomplished. Also, AOC has procured a
                              data system—the Facility Management Assistant system—that it plans to
                              use for recording and monitoring the results of inspections. According to
                              AOC safety officials, this system should help safety personnel identify
                              potential problem areas. However, this system is not scheduled for full
                              implementation until later in fiscal year 2003. Finally, as a part of its long-
                              term effort to develop its 43 specialized safety programs, AOC has included
                              at least 2 programs, scheduled to be implemented by the end of fiscal year
                              2005 that will address “Mishap Prevention and Reporting” and “Hazard
                              Abatement and Inspections,” but these programs have yet to be developed
                              or approved. In the meantime, at the recommendation of DuPont Safety
                              Resources, AOC has convened several work groups composed of safety
                              and other relevant staff to help improve accident and near-miss reporting
                              and investigations, which we hope will guide AOC’s efforts to develop an
                              agencywide system for conducting investigations and follow-up.



Education and Training:       AOC has adopted a compliance-based approach to providing safety training
Activities Could Be More      to its employees. However, this type of training is not sufficient, in itself, to
                              achieve AOC’s long-range goal of instilling safety as a basic organizational
Supportive of Improving the
                              value. In fiscal year 2001 alone, AOC reported that it provided over 13,000
Safety Culture;               hours of formal training to its employees. Most of this training is driven by
Effectiveness Evaluated in    federal safety and health regulations, which provide the basis for AOC’s 43
Achieving a Safer             specialized safety programs. This safety training, covering such topics as
Workplace                     asbestos management, is offered by or through AOC’s HRMD. AOC safety
                              specialists and supervisors have also provided informal training—such as
                              general safety awareness talks—to frontline staff in the jurisdictions. These




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efforts were acknowledged in our focus groups, as almost all of the focus
group participants reported receiving safety training in the last 12 months.

In addition to helping AOC achieve compliance, training should support
AOC’s safety goal of changing workplace culture to increase staff
awareness, commitment, and involvement in safety and health. Comments
from DuPont Safety Resources’ representatives and some AOC safety
specialists suggest that in order to change the safety culture, AOC could
target its safety awareness training so that it better motivates employees at
all levels to incorporate safety into all aspects of their work. Many focus
group participants reported that they did not understand how some of the
training provided was pertinent to their work. Once AOC has gathered the
safety data it needs to help it assess the areas of highest risk for hazards,
injuries, accidents, and illnesses, AOC’s safety training could also be
targeted to address these high-risk areas.

A comprehensive approach to evaluate the effectiveness of training
includes assessments of changes in employee behaviors and how the
training influences organizational results. While AOC performs quality
control assessments for each course offered, it has not evaluated the
overall effectiveness of its training activities to determine if they are
helping AOC achieve a safer workplace and improving the safety culture. In
this regard, as noted above, the majority of the formal training provided is
required by federal safety and health regulations, and although AOC
routinely obtains feedback from employees and subject matter experts on
the quality of individual courses, there is little effort to evaluate whether
these courses are having an impact on AOC employees’ work habits, so it is
not clear to AOC if this training is effective in achieving this objective.

AOC safety and HRMD staffs have not yet established a systematic process
to identify training needs for individual employees to help ensure the safety
program’s success. Instead jurisdictional safety specialists, working with
HRMD, are developing this training on an ad hoc basis. For example,
according to the House jurisdiction safety specialist, supervisors needed
additional skills to fully understand their role in the safety program. The
House jurisdiction worked through HRMD and the National Safety Council
of Maryland to deliver this type of training to supervisors in the House.

Also, the procedures and responsibilities for monitoring training
requirements for the safety program are not well defined. Currently, the
HRMD staff, the central safety office staff, jurisdictional safety specialists,
and frontline supervisors share responsibilities for monitoring safety



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                           training. HRMD maintains a central record of AOC-sponsored training
                           courses and employees’ training attendance but does not identify when
                           employees need training. As a result, jurisdictional safety specialists and
                           frontline supervisors must determine when employees need required
                           training and ensure that they receive such training. For example,
                           jurisdictional safety specialists are tracking this information themselves
                           using individual systems, thus leading to inconsistencies across
                           jurisdictions and potentially duplicative record-keeping activities. AOC’s
                           draft Safety Master Plan refers to a “tickler”5 that, once developed, is to be
                           included in the central training system and will identify training needs for
                           individual employees. This tool, in addition to a system that inventories
                           employees’ certifications and licenses, should be valuable in helping AOC
                           employees stay abreast of their safety training needs and requirements.



Medical Management:        AOC’s medical management activities are carried out by several offices
Activities Can Be Better   with no central coordination, so valuable information about workplace
                           injuries and illnesses is not routinely shared or best used to target
Coordinated with AOC’s
                           prevention efforts. Overall, AOC’s medical management activities are
Safety Program So          aimed at reducing the incidence and severity of work-related injuries and
Potentially Useful         illnesses and controlling workers’ compensation costs, which have
Information Can Be         changed little over the last several years. (See figure 2). AOC has partnered
Routinely Shared           with the congressional Office of the Attending Physician (OAP) to conduct
                           OSHA-mandated medical examinations for AOC employees exposed to
                           hazardous substances, while HRMD has developed a return-to-work
                           program that offers modified-duty assignments to enable recovering
                           employees to return to work as soon as practical. HRMD also provides
                           active outreach to AOC employees to keep them informed about their
                           rights and duties with respect to the federal workers compensation
                           program. In addition, HRMD follows up on reports of program abuses
                           through private investigations and ongoing contact with the Department of
                           Labor’s Office of Workers’ Compensation Programs.




                           5
                           A file that serves as a reminder and is arranged to bring matters to timely attention.
                           Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary, 10th Edition (Springfield, MA), 1977.




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Figure 2: AOC Workers’ Compensation Payments, Fiscal Years 1997 through 2002
 3,500,000 Dollars in millions


 3,000,000


 2,500,000


 2,000,000


 1,500,000


 1,000,000


   500,000


          0


               1997      1998       1999       2000      2001       2002
              Fiscal year

                            Compensation payment

                          Medical payments

 Source: Department of Labor's Office of Workers' Compensation Programs and AOC.




Although these activities generally support AOC’s safety program, we have
observed a lack of clarity regarding the roles of the many offices involved
in these efforts. Medical management activities typically involve a number
of separate entities, including human resources staff, health care providers,
occupational health and safety experts, employees, and managers. To be
effective, these activities require a high level of coordination among these
entities. However, the lack of clarity at AOC has led to a limited exchange
of important information that could be used to improve the safety
program’s performance.




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In particular, the role of OAP could be more clearly defined and expanded,
in accordance with the 1998 Memorandum of Understanding between
AOC and OAP.6 OAP provides primary care and emergency, environmental,
and occupational health services in direct support of members of the
Congress, their staffs, pages, visiting dignitaries, and tourists.7 As specified
in the Memorandum of Understanding, OAP conducts OSHA-mandated
medical examinations for AOC employees exposed to hazardous
substances, provides first aid for many AOC employees, and approves
modified-duty assignments for recovering AOC employees.8 However, the
Memorandum of Understanding allows a broader role for OAP in
providing medical expertise, which could potentially include providing
valuable data on the hazards causing injuries and illnesses at AOC,
providing trend information on the results of medical examinations, and
helping AOC standardize reporting procedures. According to the Director
of AOC’s Safety, Fire, and Environmental Programs, as many as 30 percent
of AOC’s reported injuries are probably not serious enough to warrant
medical treatment. However, it is difficult to determine the severity of
reported injuries without better injury data, underscoring the need for
standardized reporting procedures. OAP could be instrumental in helping
AOC develop these procedures.

AOC central safety staff and HRMD could coordinate more to facilitate the
exchange of information to further control workers’ compensation costs.
In particular, HRMD staff uses injury data primarily for processing workers’
compensation claims, but the central safety office does not systematically
or routinely analyze these data to better understand and address the causes
of injuries and illnesses. Also, superintendents do not routinely receive
data on the costs associated with injuries in each jurisdiction, so they are
not fully aware of them. Having these data would help AOC hold these
managers accountable for reducing these costs. Furthermore, although


6
  Memorandum of Understanding Between the Office of the Architect of the Capitol and the
Office of the Attending Physician, signed December, 1998, effective date: January 4, 1999.
7
  OAP was established in 1928 and employs about 37 staff, 17 of whom are nurses employed
by AOC. OAP also treats justices of the Supreme Court and maintains a liaison with military
and civilian hospitals to facilitate necessary referrals of patients requiring hospitalization.
8
  Medical surveillance examinations are required by OSHA for employees whose jobs expose
them to known hazards, such as arsenic or benzene. These examinations are conducted at
scheduled intervals, that is, yearly, in order to detect health problems in exposed employees
early enough to prevent or limit the progression of a work-related disease by limiting further
exposure and by offering timely medical intervention.




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              HRMD encourages supervisor involvement in identifying and overseeing
              modified-duty assignments that would enable AOC to engage injured
              workers in productive work to reduce injury costs, some jurisdictional staff
              we spoke with generally do not feel it is their responsibility to do so. One
              way to ensure that information is fully disclosed and analyzed is to provide
              a regular forum, such as a work group of superintendents, HRMD staff,
              OAP staff, and safety specialists, to discuss new and ongoing claims. This
              strategy has been adopted by the Department of Defense (DOD) and has
              proved to be useful in managing workers’ compensation claims and costs,
              according to DOD officials who specialize in this area. By focusing
              management attention on workers’ compensation claims and costs, AOC
              may provide a clearer incentive for staff at all levels to be more actively
              involved in modified-duty assignments and in other safety activities.



Conclusions   AOC has taken significant steps toward implementing the necessary
              components of an effective worker safety and health program, and the level
              of effort it has devoted to worker safety is unquestionable. However,
              achieving a safer workplace at AOC will depend in part on AOC’s ability to
              integrate the safety goals in its draft Safety Master Plan with the strategic
              goals in its draft Strategic Plan to bring about long-term cultural change so
              that there is little tolerance for unsafe work practices. AOC’s potential to
              realize success is greater if it develops safety goals and measures that are
              fully integrated with AOC’s other agencywide goals; this is the best way to
              ensure that management and employees are clear about where safety
              stands in relation to the many other work priorities AOC faces every day.
              For example, in order to ensure that AOC achieves its fiscal year 2005
              completion target for the 43 specialized safety programs, we believe that
              identifying interim milestones and measures would help AOC assess its
              progress in achieving its target.

              AOC could also benefit from having clearly defined and documented
              policies and procedures for reporting hazards, much like those that exist
              for injuries and illnesses, for this is the best way to ensure that AOC fully
              understands problem areas. There is also merit to having consistent
              procedures for conducting investigations and follow-up, so AOC will be
              assured that potential hazards are being addressed consistently in all
              jurisdictions.

              Regarding its safety training and medical management activities, AOC has
              made initial efforts to incorporate the knowledge and skills of various
              offices to help the safety program. Nonetheless, there are untapped



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                      resources within AOC that could be better utilized to help the safety
                      program achieve its goals. For example, training that is more directly
                      linked to AOC’s goal of adopting a safety culture, as well as more effective
                      assessments of that training, will help AOC achieve its goals more
                      efficiently. Also, AOC could benefit from a clearer definition of
                      responsibilities for tracking and recording training that is received. AOC
                      could also make better use of OAP’s resources. There are a number of
                      additional functions OAP can provide for AOC that we believe are
                      consistent with the current Memorandum of Understanding, such as
                      providing valuable data on the hazards causing injuries and illnesses at
                      AOC. We also believe that a senior-management group that routinely
                      discusses workers’ compensation claims and costs will help highlight these
                      issues to all managers, and ultimately make managers more accountable
                      for reducing these costs. By taking advantage of these opportunities, AOC
                      could ensure that these medical management activities are better linked to
                      the goals of the safety program and the overall mission of the agency.



Recommendations for   To enhance AOC’s ongoing efforts to establish a strategy for the worker
                      safety program by establishing safety program goals that are fully
Agency Action         integrated with AOC’s agencywide goals, we recommend that the Architect
                      of the Capitol

                      • identify performance measures for safety goals and objectives, including
                        measures for how AOC will implement the 43 specialized safety
                        programs and how superintendents and employees will be held
                        accountable for achieving results;

                      • establish clearly defined and documented policies and procedures for
                        reporting hazards similar to those that apply to injury and illness
                        reporting;

                      • establish a consistent, AOC-wide system for conducting investigations
                        and follow-up;

                      • establish a safety training curriculum that fully supports all of the goals
                        of the safety program and further evaluate the effectiveness of the
                        training provided;

                      • assign clear responsibility for tracking and recording training received
                        by AOC employees, including maintaining an inventory of employees’
                        certifications and licenses;



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                        • clarify and explore the possibility of expanding the role of OAP in
                          helping AOC meet its safety goals, consistent with the broad
                          responsibilities laid out in the 1998 Memorandum of Understanding
                          between AOC and OAP; and

                        • establish a senior management work group that will routinely discuss
                          workers’ compensation cases and costs, and develop strategies to
                          reduce these injuries and costs.



AOC Has Identified      AOC is responsible for the maintenance, operation, preservation, and
                        development of the buildings and grounds primarily located within the
Best Practices for      Capitol Hill complex. The historic nature and high-profile use of many of
Project Management,     these buildings create a complex environment in which to carry out this
                        mission. As a part of that mission, AOC is responsible for making all
but Implementation Is   necessary capital improvements within the complex, including major
Uneven                  renovations and new construction. Over the next few years, four high-
                        profile capital projects are expected to cost over a half billion dollars: the
                        $265 million Capitol Visitors’ Center project, the $122.3 million Supreme
                        Court Modernization project, the $81.8 million West Refrigeration Plant
                        Expansion project, and a combined $72 million for the House and Senate
                        Perimeter Security projects initiated following the events of September 11,
                        2001.

                        The magnitude of AOC’s recent projects and the recent growth in annual
                        appropriations highlights the importance of managing this large portfolio of
                        projects according to leading industry practices. As shown in figure 3,
                        AOC’s annual appropriations for capital projects has increased over the last
                        10 years from $23.6 million in fiscal year 1994 to $190.3 million in fiscal year
                        2003. AOC’s capital appropriations peaked in fiscal year 2001 at $279
                        million due to a $244 million emergency supplemental appropriation
                        following the terrorist attacks—over a 700 percent increase above the
                        original capital appropriation. The growth in capital appropriations is most
                        evident in the last 5 years: the average capital appropriation from fiscal
                        years 1999 through 2003 was $186.5 million, while the average capital
                        appropriation over the previous 5 years was $35.6 million.




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Figure 3: AOC Annual Appropriations for Capital Projects from Fiscal Years 1994
through 2003
    300   Dollars in millions
                                                                      278.6


    250
                                                                               237.0



    200
                                                                                       190.3


                                                     154.3
    150




    100

                                                              72.0
                                              61.1
     50                                47.9

           23.6      27.9
                                17.3

      0


           1994     1995        1996   1997   1998   1999     2000    2001     2002     2003
          Fiscal year
    Source: AOC.


Notes: The fiscal year 2003 capital project appropriation is the amount requested by AOC. Annual
appropriations for capital projects do not include appropriations related to the Supreme Court
jurisdiction.


AOC’s Office of the Chief of Design and Construction (OCODC) is
responsible for the planning, design, and construction of capital projects
vital to achieving the agency’s mission. The office also provides technical
assistance to AOC jurisdictions as they handle their day-to-day operations.
The office is divided into separate divisions that provide the direct and
indirect services that are required throughout a project’s life cycle:
(1) Architecture Division, (2) Engineering Division, (3) Construction
Management Division, and (4) Technical Support Division. The office also
has a Planning and Programming Division, which is not currently staffed,
and there is a proposal for a separate Project Management Division.




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                              As of May 2002, OCODC had a total of 128 full time equivalents, excluding
                              Davis-Bacon workers assigned to the Construction Branch. Responsibility
                              for the management of individual projects, including schedule, budget,
                              scope, and quality, primarily falls to architects and engineers who are
                              assigned as project managers. However, AOC jurisdiction staff can also be
                              assigned as project managers for capital projects within their jurisdictions.
                              As of July 2002, AOC had 83 individuals—58 from the Office of Design and
                              Construction and 25 from AOC jurisdictions—listed as project managers in
                              some capacity. The majority, however, are not dedicated solely to the task
                              of project management. AOC supplements its staff by contracting for many
                              of the design, construction, and construction management services.

                              AOC divides capital projects into four categories:

                              • small capital projects—those valued at less than $250,000 and estimated
                                to take an average of 1 year to complete;

                              • medium capital projects—those valued from $250,000 to $5 million and
                                estimated to take an average of 3 years to complete;

                              • large capital projects—those valued at more than $5 million and
                                estimated to take an average of 5 years to complete; and,

                              • large capital projects with construction managers—those valued at
                                more than $20 million and estimated to take an average of more than 5
                                years to complete.

                              As of June 2002, AOC’s workload consisted of 30 small capital projects, 94
                              medium capital projects, 12 large capital projects, and, 4 large capital
                              projects with construction managers. This does not include hundreds of
                              other projects, such as floor plan redesigns, sketches, and jurisdiction-
                              funded projects that are a core part of OCODC responsibilities.



AOC Has Recognized the        AOC recognizes that a disciplined project management process can help it
Need to Improve Its Project   complete capital projects on schedule, on budget, within scope, and of the
                              highest quality. In 1999, AOC initiated several reviews of its project
Planning and Delivery
                              planning and delivery processes by independent consultant firms. The goal
Processes                     of the reviews was to streamline the agency’s processes and staff
                              organization based upon “best practices” drawn from AOC and industry, as
                              well as to address a management concern that a lack of continuity in
                              project management resulted in a loss of effectiveness and efficiency in



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overall project delivery. As a result of these initiatives, AOC sought to
create a consistent process to which all projects and project managers
adhere, create a system where project managers are dedicated to individual
projects from “cradle-to-grave”—that is, from a project’s initiation to its
completion, and increase the use of consultants to reduce the burden on in-
house staff.

According to AOC, the best practices process took a year to develop and a
year to implement. The policies and procedures are codified in various
manuals produced and updated by AOC since 1999, two of which have
recently been finalized.9 Since then, AOC has continued to review its best
practices initiatives. For example, the consulting firm CenterLine
Associates is assessing how the best practice standards and procedures
have been applied across five capital projects.10 The effort is expected to
identify improvements that can be incorporated into AOC standards,
policies, and procedures, as well as identify areas to be covered in future
project-delivery training sessions. AOC is also implementing a formal
process for planning and budgeting for its capital projects, adapted from
the DOD’s military construction budgeting process, that is intended to
clearly define requirements and priorities, and requires that requests be
reviewed, validated, and approved before submission to the Congress. This
formal process augments the policy requiring a 100 percent complete
design before AOC requests construction funds.

As AOC moves forward with its project management initiatives and
consistent with the strategic management framework discussed in chapter
2, AOC needs to ensure that it has the overall infrastructure in place to
effectively implement and take full advantage of the best practices that are
designed to improve project planning, design, and construction
management:


9
  The manuals include the AOC Project Managers Manual, which defines the roles and
responsibilities of the project manager (Final, October 2002); the A/E Design Manual, which
defines the requirements and deliverables from architectural and engineering consultants
hired by AOC (Final, July 2002); the PIC User Guide, which details how project-related
information should be entered into the Project Information Center system (Interim,
November 2001); and the AOC Design Standards, which defines design practice and quality
levels for facilities constructed for AOC (Draft, October 2002).
10
 The five projects undergoing review are the Rayburn House Office Building
Sprinkler/Telecom project, the Cannon House Office Building Garage Repairs project, the
Dirksen Senate Office Building Infrastructure Modernization project, the Fort Meade Book
Storage Facility Module I project, and the Relocation of the House Page Dormitory project.




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                            • top leadership commitment,

                            • master planning for the Capitol Hill complex,

                            • transparent process to prioritize projects,

                            • strategy and tools to communicate,

                            • outcome-oriented goals and performance measures,

                            • proper alignment of staff and resources, and

                            • strategic human capital management.

                            Without these elements, AOC and the Congress have no assurance that the
                            project management initiatives are being employed to their fullest
                            potential. Consequently, AOC cannot be assured that the capital projects it
                            is managing can be completed on schedule, on budget, and within scope
                            and are of high quality and meet the needs of their customers.

Top Leadership Commitment   As with other critical management issues, the sustained commitment of top
                            leadership will be vital to the success of AOC’s project management
                            initiatives. On an ongoing basis, AOC leadership must set the clear
                            expectation that staff adhere to the established best practice policies and
                            procedures and then hold project management staff and contractors
                            accountable for meeting this expectation. However, several project
                            managers stated that they rely more heavily on their own experiences than
                            on the specific policies and procedures laid out in the project manager
                            manuals. One AOC official with project management responsibilities
                            specifically noted, with respect to the best practices, that he did not know
                            “if any of it was required,” but that if something was required he would be
                            doing it.

                            AOC officials responsible for overall project management can also show
                            leadership by initiating a shift in the way AOC supervises its projects from
                            solely focusing on crisis management to more active oversight. Several
                            senior OCODC officials noted that their principal supervisory role is to
                            resolve problems faced by project management staff. Interaction between
                            project managers and senior management then is often limited to times
                            when they “kick problems upstairs.” This reactionary approach leaves open
                            the possibility that other risks or opportunities exist that are not being
                            addressed. We are not suggesting, however, that AOC supervisors engage in



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                                  micromanagement of the project managers’ day-to-day activities. Rather,
                                  more active supervision would help ensure that project managers are held
                                  accountable for following best practices, achieving measurable results or
                                  outcomes, meeting the needs of clients, and communicating routinely with
                                  project stakeholders—both internal and external.

Master Planning for the Capitol   AOC’s best practice initiatives are intended to begin with a planning
Hill Complex                      process that incorporates four sets of plans: a 20-year master plan, a 10-
                                  year facility assessment, a 5-year capital spending plan, and a 1-year
                                  jurisdiction plan. All capital projects are supposed to be consistent with
                                  those planning efforts, except for projects requested by individual
                                  members of the Congress outside of the normal budget cycle. However,
                                  AOC does not yet have a master plan or a facility assessment plan, nor does
                                  AOC have formalized capital spending or jurisdiction plans.

                                  In July 2001, at the direction of the Senate Committee on Appropriations,
                                  AOC contracted with the National Academy of Sciences (National
                                  Academy) to hold a planning workshop to determine the scope of a Capitol
                                  Hill complex Master Plan.11 Based on the results of the workshop, which
                                  was held September 23 through 24, 2002, AOC will develop a request for
                                  proposal for the master plan. While these initial efforts are positive steps,
                                  the overall effort has been slow to take shape given that the workshop took
                                  place over a year after the Senate’s directive. Moreover, as stated in chapter
                                  2, AOC needs to tie its various long-term planning initiatives, including the
                                  master planning effort, to the agencywide strategic planning effort and
                                  obtain stakeholders’ input throughout the process. This message was
                                  reinforced by participants in the National Academy’s workshop, who
                                  explained that the master plan must be guided by a vision statement for the
                                  Capitol Hill complex, which is developed with stakeholder input and
                                  consistent with AOC’s strategic plan.




                                  11
                                       S. Rep. No. 107-37 at 29 (2001).




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A key component of a master plan is building condition assessments
(BCA), which are systematic evaluations of an organization’s capital assets.
Such assessments will help AOC to “evaluate deferred maintenance and
funding requirements; plan a deferred maintenance reduction program;
compare conditions between facilities; establish baselines for setting goals
and tracking progress; provide accurate and supportable information for
planning and justifying budgets; facilitate the establishment of funding
priorities; and develop budget and funding analyses and strategies.”12

A number of AOC executives agreed that BCAs are a necessary first step to
a comprehensive preventive maintenance program. However, according to
AOC officials, AOC has never completed formal condition assessments of
the facilities it is responsible for maintaining. Senior AOC and jurisdiction
executives also stated that preventive maintenance of AOC’s assets has
never been a major focus. According to AOC officials, AOC’s recent pilot
effort to conduct an assessment of the Capitol Building was unsuccessful
due to miscommunication of expectations between the agency and the
contractor performing the assessment. Without BCAs, the agency has no
assurance that it has fully documented the Capitol Hill complex’s
preventive maintenance needs and cannot develop an overall plan with
which to address those needs. As a result, AOC is unable to assure the
Congress that the facilities in the Capitol Hill complex will be effectively
and efficiently maintained and preserved consistent with the historic and
high-profile nature of those facilities.

AOC recently formed a condition assessment team with representatives
from each of the larger jurisdictions to develop a detailed statement of
work that specifies exactly what is required of a BCA contractor. When
conducted, the BCAs must be carried out consistently across all
jurisdictions to help ensure that all assets are evaluated in the same manner
and that AOC-wide priorities can be set and trade-offs made. The project
manager focus group participants also pointed out that the BCAs will
require substantial involvement from employees of many of the
jurisdictional shops who will be asked to provide technical information,
logistical support, and other forms of assistance to the assessment teams.
Therefore, AOC must also plan for and set aside resources required by AOC
jurisdictions for the effort. According to the National Research Council,


12
 National Research Council, Stewardship of Federal Facilities: A Proactive Strategy for
Managing the Nation’s Public Assets (Washington, D.C.: National Academy Press, 1998), p.
43.




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                                    using a risk-based approach, the initial assessments should focus on life,
                                    health, and safety issues and on critical building system components
                                    needed to operate effectively.13

                                    AOC also needs staff dedicated to ensuring that the master plan and
                                    building condition assessments are successfully completed. AOC officials
                                    told us they had hired a new Director of Facilities Planning and
                                    Programming in early December 2002. AOC officials stated that they are in
                                    the process of hiring an assistant planner and an assistant programmer.
                                    Because these individuals and the office would be the champions for the
                                    master planning and building condition assessment efforts, it is important
                                    that AOC fully staff the office with qualified individuals.

Transparent Process to Prioritize   An agencywide strategic plan and a complexwide master plan will help
Projects                            AOC determine priorities and then communicate them both internally to
                                    employees and externally to clients. In the absence of a strategic plan and a
                                    master plan to help determine overall priorities, AOC does not have a
                                    transparent process to prioritize its current projects. In the near term, a
                                    transparent process that incorporates stakeholder input would allow AOC
                                    to prioritize projects in a well documented manner. In the long term, AOC
                                    would be able to integrate the guidance of the strategic plan and master
                                    plan within a transparent priority setting process.

                                    AOC assigns a priority designation for each of the projects in its
                                    appropriations request—1-A, 1-B, 1-C, and 2-A, 2-B, and so on through 3-C
                                    at the lowest end of the priority scale. These priorities are further
                                    categorized as Life Safety, Americans with Disabilities Act, Security,
                                    Cyclical Maintenance, Improvement, and Technology-Management
                                    Systems. According to an OCODC official, each jurisdiction prioritizes
                                    capital projects and safety programs on a building-by-building basis for the
                                    coming fiscal year. Priorities are determined based on the subjective
                                    decisions made by jurisdiction officials and not on predefined criteria. The
                                    priorities are then converted into the 1-A, 1-B, etc., priority designations by
                                    the Budget Office staff.

                                    However, based on our review, it is not clear that project managers use this
                                    prioritization scheme to guide their day-to-day activities. The only


                                    13
                                     National Research Council, Stewardship of Federal Facilities: A Proactive Strategy for
                                    Managing the Nations’s Public Assets (Washington, D.C.: National Academy Press, 1998), p.
                                    96.




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                        practical, day-to-day prioritization of projects we found being used was a
                        “hot projects” list. Projects were placed on the list by a group of senior
                        OCODC officials who based their decisions on two undefined, subjective
                        criteria: (1) time sensitivity and (2) high dollar volume. According to one
                        AOC official, however, the process for placing priority projects onto the list
                        is neither formal nor consistently applied. In fact, the official stated that the
                        current hot project list needs to be updated to reflect fiscal year 2003
                        projects.

                        We also found a general consensus among AOC officials and project
                        managers that prioritization of projects is a major weakness at the agency.
                        Many lamented that AOC is unable to manage client requests for projects
                        effectively. More specifically, AOC lacks a process that can communicate,
                        both internally and externally, the trade-offs in prioritizing one project over
                        another or how individual projects fit within a broader AOC framework.
                        The confusion about overall agency priorities has also led to confusion
                        about what individual priorities should be.

Strategy and Tools to   Upon establishing priorities, AOC must then incorporate the
Communicate             communication of priorities and progress of projects within an agencywide
                        communications strategy. Internally, that means AOC needs to
                        communicate its priorities to staff and provide details on how related
                        projects are linked to one another. However, we found that AOC lacks the
                        project management tools necessary to assist in doing these tasks. For
                        example, officials responsible for overall project management use the
                        Project Information Center (PIC) system to prioritize work and ascertain
                        the progress of individual projects. However, PIC is not capable of
                        producing a unified document that shows schedules of active projects,
                        their interrelationships, and required staffing. Without a resource-loaded
                        master project planning document, it is difficult to determine the effect of
                        priority changes and to quantify project manager staffing requirements.

                        AOC also needs to communicate the agency’s overall priorities to its clients
                        and report progress on projects of importance to clients. The strategic and
                        master planning efforts and BCAs discussed above will assist AOC in
                        determining its project priorities. As discussed in chapter 2, an effort to
                        establish congressional protocols could also help the agency determine
                        how those priorities should be communicated, as well as how individual
                        project priorities will be reported.

                        AOC has made strides in communicating with its clients on the progress of
                        projects. For example, AOC has developed a web site that includes a



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Capitol Hill complex map of several ongoing projects. However,
opportunities exist for additional progress in how AOC communicates with
clients and reports progress to the Congress. Also, at the direction of the
Senate Committee on Appropriations, AOC has begun issuing quarterly
capital project reports on the status of all ongoing capital projects.14
However, the reports we reviewed described the status of all ongoing
capital projects without highlighting those projects that were behind
schedule, over budget, or otherwise of interest to clients. AOC needs to
begin to incorporate stakeholder feedback to better structure this reporting
mechanism. For example, in our April 2002 statement, we discussed the
possibility of using a “reportable events” approach to accountability
reporting that is based on predefined, risk-based events that would trigger
a report to the Congress and prompt immediate attention.15

However, the information reported is only as good as the information
entered into the PIC system, which is the source of all project-related
information. We have found that the data produced by the system and
reported out by AOC are questionable because project managers do not
consistently update the information in PIC. For example, a majority of the
participants in the project manager focus group said they failed to
consistently put information into the system because they viewed PIC as an
administrative burden that provided no direct benefit to their own day-to-
day activities. Additionally, our case studies showed that the project
managers do not always keep PIC completely updated. For example, the
Senate Recording Studio project had a current working estimate listed in
PIC that was nearly double the amount appropriated for the project.
Although we were told that the estimate was outdated, the information had
not been updated in the PIC system. AOC officials recognize the inadequate
data entry into PIC. In response, an OCODC official has recently met with
all of AOC’s project managers to reinforce the importance of keeping PIC
updated and to instruct them on how and what needs to be entered. While
this is a positive step designed to improve the documentation of project
information, AOC would benefit from more routine, systematic reviews of
PIC data to uncover pervasive problems and their root causes.




14
     S. Rep. No. 107-37 at 28 (2001).
15
     GAO-02-632T.




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Outcome-Oriented Goals and      As we discussed in chapter 2, AOC needs to work with its stakeholders to
Performance Measures for        determine its long-term strategic goals for project management and
Project Management              develop annual performance goals that provide a connection between long-
                                term goals and the day-to-day activities of its managers and their staff. This
                                effort will enable AOC to track its progress, provide critical information for
                                decision making, and create incentives for individual behavior by providing
                                a basis for individual accountability.

                                In its draft strategic plan, AOC has identified facilities management and
                                project management as two “focus areas,” and defined strategic goals for
                                each focus area. However, AOC has not yet clearly defined the outcome-
                                oriented goals and performance measures in each focus area. For example,
                                as an outcome within the project management focus area, AOC lists
                                “Projects and related services are executed and delivered on time and on
                                budget.” To further clarify its goals, AOC could define terms such as
                                “projects and related services” and establish quantitative performance
                                measures for outcomes such as “on time” and “on budget.” Because AOC
                                lacks specific measures, it is unclear whether AOC will be able to assess its
                                current performance baseline, or how AOC will seek to improve. For
                                example, it is unclear to internal and external AOC stakeholders if AOC’s
                                goal is to improve on time delivery by a percentage point, or if it is to
                                achieve some undefined standard. As AOC moves forward and establishes
                                goals and measures for project management, it will be in a better position
                                to consider how to balance competing needs, such as client satisfaction
                                and quality against the need to meet deadlines and stay within budgets.

Alignment of Project            In June 2002, AOC officials responsible for overall project management
Management Staff and            identified several changes that were needed to improve the delivery of
Resources to Achieve Mission-   capital projects. Primarily, AOC recognized that the current “soft matrix”
Critical Goals                  approach of assigning mostly architects and engineers as project managers
                                who are assisted by task leaders from various sub-disciplines was
                                ineffective because, according to an AOC report on a proposed staff
                                realignment within the Office of the Assistant Architect, there was no
                                “clear objective, no supervisory authority that can exercise accountability
                                over the Project Managers, and no clear lines of communication.” 16 AOC
                                officials responsible for project management proposed to senior AOC
                                executives the creation of a new and independent Project Management
                                Division, led with strong leadership, to “improve accountability, enforce


                                16
                                     AOC, Office of the Assistant Architect, Proposed Reorganization, June 6, 2002.




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                          organizational discipline, focus on client service needs, and tailor the skills
                          of existing staff to necessary tasks.”

                          The proposed staff realignment, which is in its early stages of
                          implementation, is a good step within the framework of implementing best
                          practices, particularly the concept of dedicated, cradle-to-grave project
                          managers. However, AOC must ensure that this and other interim steps
                          ultimately support the agency in meeting mission-critical goals and
                          objectives as it develops the agencywide strategic plan. Moving forward
                          with this realignment will require AOC to determine which individuals have
                          the skills to be dedicated projects managers, as well as to identify the
                          specific projects they should manage. Officials within OCODC recognize
                          that not all of the architects and engineers who are currently assigned as
                          project managers have the requisite skills for the job. With qualified staff,
                          however, the realignment will ultimately address accountability issues by
                          clarifying roles and responsibilities and creating true cradle-to-grave
                          project management staff. Many of the project managers in our focus group
                          stated that they are currently being asked to wear “too many hats,” which
                          often distracts them from their primary duty to manage projects, and
                          wanted AOC to move more quickly to a dedicated project management
                          staff environment. We also observed that the initially slow progress of the
                          Relocation of the Senate Recording Studio project and the Coal Handling
                          Modernization project improved once dedicated project managers were
                          assigned.

                          However, a missing component of the realignment proposal is the role of
                          supervisors in the new project management division. AOC has not yet
                          defined who will supervise the project managers, the number of
                          supervisors that will be needed, nor the approach they will take with
                          respect to supervision. AOC needs to evaluate all of these issues and
                          integrate the role of day-to-day supervisors into the new Project
                          Management Division.

Strategic Human Capital   As discussed in chapter 2, strategic human capital management can
Management                transform an agency into a results-oriented organization by aligning
                          employee performance with goals and by providing tools to better plan its
                          workforce needs. AOC has taken initial steps to address the strategic
                          workforce analysis criteria set forth in chapter 2, by identifying its project
                          management workforce needs in its staff realignment proposal. That plan
                          detailed tactical approaches to reassigning current project management
                          staff and determining where additional staff would be placed within a
                          restructured OCODC. Consistent with the strategic human capital



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challenges it faces in other areas, AOC has opportunities to strengthen its
efforts for its project management workforce as well. Developing a set of
core technical competencies for project management and implementing a
training and development program for those competencies are two areas
requiring particular attention.

AOC has not developed project management-specific technical
competencies that define for what project managers will be held
accountable. Defined competencies are important for ensuring that the
right people are employed in the right positions and that they are routinely
held accountable for their work. As a basis for developing these
competencies, AOC can refer to standards developed by leading
professional organizations. For example, the Project Management Institute
(PMI) has published A Guide to the Project Management Body of
Knowledge (PMBOK) that organizes the components of project
management into nine knowledge areas: project integration management,
project scope management, project time management, project cost
management, project quality management, project human resources
management, project communications management, project risk
management, and project procurement management. Other entities have
successfully used these knowledge areas as the basis for developing
technical competencies. For example, the Australian government uses
PMBOK as the basis for its National Competency Standards for Project
Management.

As a next step, AOC could identify and implement training programs that
are linked to the core and technical competencies required of project
managers. Doing so is an essential component of building an effective and
professional project management staff. To date, it is unclear whether AOC’s
training fully supports the implementation of best practices throughout the
agency. For example, some project manager focus group participants noted
that they were not given initial orientation that familiarized them with AOC,
including services provided by other offices, or that familiarized them with
their ultimate client—the Congress. And if AOC is to effectively implement
best practices, newly hired project managers must be trained in the policies
and procedures and all project managers must receive ongoing best
practice training as policies and procedures are revised. We found that
neither of the project managers for the case studies we reviewed was
provided best practice training when they were first hired, and one was not
provided a copy of the project manager manual. AOC officials also stated
that they have not yet provided updated best practices training sessions for




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                      project managers, although they said they plan to use the ongoing best
                      practices assessments mentioned above to tailor such training.

                      Finally, AOC should require professional development certification and
                      training, although this may not need to be provided internally by AOC. PMI
                      administers a globally accepted and recognized professional certification
                      program for project managers, which requires a specific level of education
                      and experience, adherence to a code of professional conduct, successful
                      completion of an examination, and ongoing continuing education
                      requirements.



Conclusions           As AOC moves forward with its project management initiatives, several
                      elements are critical to the thorough implementation of best practices that
                      are designed to improve project planning, design, and construction
                      management. Project management could be improved by demonstrating
                      top leadership commitment to change, planning, establishing outcome-
                      oriented goals, and strategically managing human capital to achieve those
                      goals. A Capitol Hill complex-wide master planning effort, including
                      building condition assessments, will help AOC establish long-term
                      priorities. Similarly, a transparent process to prioritize agency capital
                      projects will help AOC clarify its short-term (1 to 5 years) focus. As a part
                      of a broader communication strategy, effective reporting mechanisms will
                      help AOC convey these long- and short-term priorities, as well detail the
                      progress of projects to stakeholders. Clearly defining project-management-
                      related measures will also help AOC achieve mission-critical strategic and
                      annual performance goals. Finally, the alignment of project management
                      staff and resources in accordance with best practices policies and
                      procedures will help institutionalize those practices and help AOC meet
                      mission-critical goals. Without these elements, AOC and the Congress have
                      no assurance that the project management initiatives are being employed
                      to their fullest potential. Consequently, AOC cannot be assured that the
                      capital projects it is managing can be completed on schedule, on budget,
                      and within scope and are of high quality and meet the needs of their
                      customers.



Recommendations for   To improve project management—project planning, design, and
                      construction—at AOC, we recommend that Architect of the Capitol
Agency Action



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                           • develop a Capitol Hill complex master plan and complete condition
                             assessments of all buildings and facilities under the jurisdiction of AOC;

                           • develop a process for assigning project priorities that is based on clearly
                             defined, well documented, consistently applied, and transparent
                             criteria;

                           • develop tools to effectively communicate priorities and progress of
                             projects, as a part of a broader communication strategy;

                           • define project-management-related performance measures to achieve
                             mission-critical strategic and annual performance goals; and

                           • align project management staff and resources with AOC’s mission-
                             critical goals.



AOC Needs to Build on      Programs that separate and collect recyclable materials from the waste
                           stream produce numerous benefits. It is estimated that recycling 1 ton of
Current Efforts by         paper saves 17 mature trees, 3.3 cubic yards of landfill space, 7,000 gallons
Adopting a Strategic       of water, 380 gallons of oil, 4,100 kilowatt hours of energy, and 60 pounds of
                           air pollutants. Recently, AOC has taken several steps to improve the
Approach to Recycling      effectiveness of its office recycling programs; however, it could increase
                           the benefits derived from its recycling program by taking a more strategic
                           approach. Such an approach would include revisiting and clarifying
                           recycling mission and goals as part of an AOC planned environmental
                           strategy, measuring and monitoring performance against goals to gauge and
                           improve program effectiveness, and reexamining the roles and
                           responsibilities of the recycling program staff to ensure accountability for
                           achieving recycling goals. We provide observations on how AOC could
                           improve recycling results by organizationally replicating its own and
                           others’ best practices.



AOC Has Taken Steps to     AOC is responsible for implementing recycling programs for much of the
Improve Effectiveness of   Capitol Hill complex. Consistent with the preliminary observations in our
                           April 2002 statement, AOC, both centrally and at the jurisdiction level, has
Recycling Programs
                           taken recent steps to improve the overall effectiveness of its recycling
                           programs. Some of the steps include




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                            • adopting a consultant’s recommendation to simplify the Senate’s
                              recycling program to improve participation and increase effectiveness,

                            • developing a draft set of performance indicators and starting to collect
                              data,

                            • increasing recycling promotion and education efforts,

                            • surveying recycling clients in the House to determine if the program is
                              meeting their needs, and

                            • sharing information on recycling promotion and education strategies
                              among the House and Senate recycling program managers.



AOC’s Recycling Program     Office recycling programs can have a variety of environmental and
Has Made Limited Progress   financial benefits. A typical goal is reducing to the extent possible the
                            amount of solid waste sent to landfills. Another typical goal is generating as
in Achieving Typical
                            much revenue as possible from the sale of the recyclable materials
Recycling Goals             collected. A key to achieving either goal is making the recycling program as
                            easy as possible for employees to use. Generally, the less sorting, decision
                            making, and walking required by individual participants, the more
                            successful the program will be. Although the two goals of waste reduction
                            and revenue generation are not mutually exclusive, the relative importance
                            placed on these goals generally affects the design of the recycling program
                            implemented.

                            Specifically, a recycling program with the goal of generating revenue,
                            commonly referred to as a source separation program, is more
                            complicated, expensive, and difficult to implement than a program
                            designed for waste reduction. This is because separating a greater variety
                            of recyclable materials at the source requires more resources for educating
                            clients and the recycling staff, collecting the recyclable materials, and
                            monitoring for compliance. The complexity of source separation,
                            unfortunately, also increases the likelihood of contamination of the
                            recyclable materials collected (potentially recyclable materials are mixed
                            together with other categories of recyclables or wet waste), reducing their
                            value and increasing the volume of waste sent to landfills. Given the
                            complexity and potential performance problems with a source separation
                            program, an organization needs to analyze the costs and benefits of such a
                            program compared to other, simpler options to determine whether such a
                            program will be cost-effective.



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                            High levels of contamination have prevented the House and Senate
                            recycling programs from substantially achieving either waste reduction or
                            revenue generation. AOC’s recycling contractor does not pay for high-grade
                            (e.g., white copy) paper with greater than 5 percent contamination or
                            mixed-grade (e.g., glossy or colored) paper with greater than 10 percent
                            contamination. From fiscal years 2001 through 2002, AOC did improve its
                            recycling results. According to General Services Administration (GSA)
                            data, the rate of contamination of recyclable paper products collected
                            dropped from 70 percent in fiscal year 2001 to 55 percent in fiscal year 2002
                            in the House jurisdiction and from 60 percent to 37 percent in the Senate
                            jurisdiction. However, although AOC avoided the cost of disposing of the
                            waste, the contaminated materials generated no revenue. The recycling
                            contractor may sort and recycle some of this contaminated waste, but
                            some potentially recyclable materials may be too contaminated and will
                            ultimately go to a landfill.

                            During fiscal year 2002, the Senate jurisdiction implemented a consultant’s
                            recommendation to change from a source separation to a simpler
                            combined-paper recycling program. According to the consultant’s report,
                            simplifying the program by reducing the amount of source separation
                            required could both increase revenue and decrease the contamination
                            levels. In contrast, the House jurisdiction continues to operate a more
                            complex source-separation program. Similar to the conclusions made in
                            the review of the recycling program operations for the Senate program, a
                            recently completed consultant study of the House program made the point
                            that a mixed-paper program is easier to administer and usually leads to
                            increased participation, decreased contamination, and less collection time.
                            However, the consultant’s report did not recommend making any changes
                            to the House’s program at this time because it found the existing program
                            to be “user-friendly” and accepted. Nonetheless, given the high rates of
                            contamination in the House recycling program, AOC needs to closely
                            monitor contamination to determine if a simpler program design is
                            warranted.



AOC Needs to Revisit and    AOC’s goals for its recycling programs are unclear. AOC has not
Clarify Recycling Mission   documented any mission and goals for its recycling programs. We found
                            various references—albeit indirect and inconsistent—to AOC recycling
and Goals as Part of Its    goals. For example, a 1999 audit by the AOC Inspector General, indicated
Planned Environmental       that AOC is pursuing the goal of waste reduction. A similar goal is indicated
Strategy                    in the position description of the AOC Resource Conservation Program
                            Manager. In contrast, the position descriptions for the House and Senate



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for Addressing Long-standing Worker Safety,
Project Management, and Recycling Issues




recycling program managers state that these managers are responsible for,
among other things, increasing the financial returns of their programs.

If AOC’s goal is to generate as much revenue as possible through a source
separation program, then based on the high rate of contamination it will
need to design a program that is much more aggressive in terms of the
education, training, and equipment it provides to participants and the
collection staff. However, if the goal is reducing the volume of waste sent to
landfills, then AOC should implement a simpler program, requiring as little
separation as possible to increase participation and compliance as was
done in the Senate. In addition, AOC has made some effort to expand its
recycling program to other facilities within the Capitol Hill complex, such
as the Botanic Garden, the Page Dormitory, and—in response to our recent
suggestion—the Capital Power Plant. Furthermore, according to AOC
officials, AOC recycles fluorescent lamps, batteries, scrap metal, and some
computer equipment and has required its contractors to recycle their
construction debris. However, it has no formal plans to expand its recycling
programs to include other types of recyclable materials, such as waste
from its own landscaping or construction activities. Incorporating these
materials into its overall recycling program could improve AOC’s overall
performance in reducing waste sent to landfills. However, AOC
management stated that adequate resources are not presently available to
carry out such expanded recycling programs, although it has requested
funding for an additional position in fiscal year 2003 to assist the recycling
program manager, allowing for further expansion of the recycling program.

AOC recycling program staff recently discussed their view that the mission
of their recycling programs ought to be primarily reducing waste sent to
landfills rather than maximizing recycling revenues. AOC management
stated that it would be important to obtain input from congressional
stakeholders before making any changes to the mission or goals of the
program. Furthermore, clarifying the goals of the program is something
AOC management would address only as part of the long-term
environmental management plan for the Capitol Hill complex that it plans
to undertake after completing its Safety Master Plan. Consistent with the
communication strategy we outline in this report, AOC will need to seek
input from its stakeholders to determine the most appropriate mission and
goals for its recycling program(s). Whether the resulting program is Capitol
Hill complex-wide or is tailored to meet the specific requirements of the
House or Senate, AOC needs to clarify whether the primary focus of the
recycling program is to reduce the total amount of waste sent to landfills,
to generate a desired level of revenue, or both.



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AOC Needs to Develop a                    As discussed in our April 2002 statement, to support the accomplishment of
Performance Measurement,                  AOC’s recycling mission and goals, a performance measurement system
                                          should (1) show the degree to which the desired results were achieved,
Monitoring, and Evaluation                (2) be limited to the vital few measures needed for decision making, (3) be
System That Supports                      responsive to multiple priorities, and (4) establish accountability for
Accomplishment of                         results. Also, as part of its responsibility for handling waste from
Recycling Mission and                     government facilities, including recyclable materials, the GSA has
Goals                                     developed a guide that describes a number of steps an agency can take to
                                          measure and monitor recycling efforts that could be useful to AOC in
                                          developing its system. These steps are listed in table 3.



Table 3: Ten Steps Identified by GSA for Best Administering a Recycling Program

Steps                                    Purpose and example
1. Determining the building profile      Purpose: To ascertain the types of materials to be recovered in a recycling program and
                                         identify any special restrictions or requirements.
                                         Example: Does the storage space have sprinklers or will special containers be required?
2. Determining the waste stream size     Purpose: To manage and reduce a building’s waste stream; data on the total size of the
                                         waste stream are compiled.
                                         Example: Obtain monthly reports showing the amount of waste hauled.
3. Analyzing the waste stream            Purpose: To determine the quantity of various types of recyclable materials included in the
                                         waste stream.
                                         Example: Develop an estimate of the quantity of recyclable material collected daily.
4. Determining the amount recycled       Purpose: To show how much is being diverted from the waste stream.
                                         Example: The recycling contractor provides a monthly report showing the amounts and
                                         types of materials recycled.
5. Tracking the information              Purpose: To determine the percentage of the total waste stream diverted by recycling.
                                         Example: Data are entered on a regular basis, for example, monthly, and totaled at the
                                         end of the fiscal year.
6. Reporting the information             Purpose: To report status of the program to management and to offices participating in the
                                         program.
                                         Example: Reports to offices keep employees informed about how their efforts are helping
                                         the environment and measuring progress and goals.
7. Reducing the waste stream             Purpose: To determine whether trash includes recyclable materials that are improperly
                                         discarded and opportunities to recycle other materials (e.g., construction debris,
                                         discarded/leftover carpeting, or scrap metal).
                                         Example: Meet with office representatives to ascertain their container needs and find out
                                         what types of waste they generate.
8. Assessing the program                 Purpose: To determine how well the program is working.
                                         Example: Observe whether employees understand how the program works or what
                                         modifications might be necessary.




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(Continued From Previous Page)
9. Educating employees                                           Purpose: To provide employees with reasons for recycling and a description of how the
                                                                 program works; to reduce the container contamination by giving detailed instructions on
                                                                 what is and is not acceptable.
                                                                 Example: An environmental team consisting of building management and participating
                                                                 offices would promote and educate employees.
10. Monitoring and evaluating program                            Purpose: To be aware of fluctuations in the volume of recycled materials collected in an
                                                                 effort to identify the cause and determine whether associated waste disposal costs can be
                                                                 reduced.
                                                                 Example: Periodically review waste disposal costs and assess whether the program
                                                                 implemented has had an impact.
Source: U.S. General Services Administration, Recycling Program Desk Guide (Washington, D.C.: March 2001).


                                                                  In response to the Senate Committee on Appropriations’ requirement for
                                                                  quarterly updates on the recycling program in the Senate, AOC developed a
                                                                  performance measurement system that it is using to monitor both the
                                                                  Senate and the House recycling programs.17 Initially, the indicators on
                                                                  which AOC collected data included, among other things, a two-digit
                                                                  increase in tonnage recycled, revenue generated from the sale of
                                                                  recyclables, market prices for various recycled materials, customer
                                                                  satisfaction, education of participating offices, results of desk side
                                                                  container inspections, status of equipping offices with recycling containers,
                                                                  rate of office participation, and training of recycling collection staffs.

                                                                  Consistent with the preliminary observations in our April 2002 statement,
                                                                  AOC significantly reduced the number of indicators it is collecting and
                                                                  reporting to two: total tonnage collected by type of material and total
                                                                  tonnage contaminated. This more focused approach to measuring the
                                                                  effectiveness of its program is noteworthy. As AOC revisits its program
                                                                  mission, goals, and design, it will have opportunities to reexamine and
                                                                  refine its performance measurement efforts to ensure that it has the right
                                                                  set of performance measures to support program monitoring and decision
                                                                  making.

                                                                  The absence of AOC recycling program goals does not allow measures to
                                                                  be linked to a desired level of performance and thus AOC cannot
                                                                  demonstrate the extent to which performance is achieved. For example,
                                                                  AOC seeks to decrease contamination rates for recyclable materials
                                                                  collected, but does not state a goal for a desired level of contamination
                                                                  against which to measure progress. As shown in table 3, steps 2 and 3, AOC
                                                                  should determine how much waste the Capitol Hill complex generates


                                                                  17
                                                                       S. Rep. No. 107-37 at 10 (2001).




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                          overall and analyze how much of that waste could be recycled. AOC
                          officials have told us that they plan to conduct such an analysis as part of
                          its future, long term environmental management plan and use the
                          information to form the basis of AOC’s overall waste reduction goals.

                          Furthermore, AOC should develop its performance measurement system
                          with input from recycling program staff members to ensure that the data
                          gathered will be sufficiently complete, accurate, and consistent to be useful
                          in decision making. As AOC clarifies its goals and performance measures
                          for its recycling program, it will likely identify opportunities to create a
                          balanced set of measures that respond to multiple priorities, such as
                          increasing customer satisfaction while also achieving recycling
                          performance goals. Consistent with our preliminary observations, AOC
                          recycling program staff has begun surveying its clients to obtain feedback
                          on their satisfaction with the program. This performance information could
                          be a useful addition to the set of measures AOC is currently collecting and
                          monitoring.

                          After establishing its mission and goals and building a performance
                          measurement system, the next key step for AOC is to put performance data
                          to work. As shown in table 3, steps 4 through 8 and step 10 provide
                          guidance on ways to monitor and evaluate program performance. AOC has
                          proposed a quarterly monitoring system. Such monitoring of performance
                          against goals will enable AOC program managers to identify where
                          performance is lagging, investigate potential causes, and identify actions
                          designed to improve performance.



Reexamine Roles,          The roles and responsibilities of AOC’s recycling program staff members
Responsibilities, and     have evolved in recent years, without the guidance of a clearly defined
                          mission and goals. In revisiting its recycling program mission and goals,
Number of AOC Recycling
                          AOC should also reexamine the roles and responsibilities of its program
Program Staff Members     staff members to ensure that they are performing the right jobs with the
                          necessary authority. AOC recently changed the responsibilities of its
                          recycling program management positions to incorporate a greater focus on
                          program planning and evaluation. However, according to these staff
                          members, much of their time is spent in day-to-day program
                          implementation activities, leaving little time to fulfill their expanded roles.

                          The AOC Resource Conservation Manager, originally responsible for only
                          the AOC hazardous waste program, currently is responsible for planning
                          and developing policies and programs for an AOC-wide approach to waste



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management, analyzing waste removal programs, developing and
presenting briefing and training materials on agency recycling efforts, and
serving as the administrator and technical representative for the recycling
collection contract. However, according to the Resource Conservation
Manager, about half of her effort is devoted to hazardous waste
management activities. She has little time and no staff to carry out the
broad, agencywide planning and evaluation activities required by the
position.

In fiscal year 2001, AOC replaced its recycling coordinator position with a
Recycling Program Manager position in the House and Senate jurisdictions.
These positions are responsible for working with other Capitol Hill
complex recycling specialists to carry out agencywide recycling, planning
and developing recycling policies and programs, reviewing program
effectiveness and monitoring implementation (e.g., compliance
inspections), and analyzing the financial returns of waste recycling
contracts. However, the House Recycling Program Manager told us that her
current focus has been primarily on implementation activities, such as
providing recycling equipment to offices, limiting the time available to
focus on other responsibilities, such as program monitoring and evaluation.
However, according to this manager, the recent hiring of an assistant to
focus on operations will allow her to devote more time to recycling
program management activities.

As previously stated, AOC needs to provide a results-oriented basis for
individual accountability. With respect to recycling, AOC has neither
established clear goals nor assigned accountability for achieving results.
Because program implementation occurs in the House and Senate
jurisdictions, AOC needs to incorporate its desired recycling goals into its
performance management system and cascade those goals down through
the jurisdictions to the individuals responsible for program
implementation.

Overlapping responsibilities for planning, education, monitoring, and
evaluation between the Resource Conservation Manager and jurisdiction
recycling program managers raise questions about the appropriate number
of staff members and mix of responsibilities needed to carry out AOC’s
recycling programs at the central and jurisdictional levels. For example, the
jurisdiction recycling managers focus primarily on the implementation of
the recycling program, including equipping offices, educating participants,
and collecting recyclable materials. Furthermore, the AOC Resource
Conservation Manager has little time and no staff to carry out broad



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                      management and oversight responsibilities. As a result, little capacity
                      exists to carry out the planning, development, monitoring, and evaluation
                      of AOC’s recycling programs on an AOC-wide basis.



Conclusions           Although the Architect of the Capitol has managed an office recycling
                      program in the House and Senate jurisdictions for more than a decade, high
                      levels of contamination present in the materials collected has prevented it
                      from fully realizing either the environmental or financial benefits that it
                      could have achieved. Adopting a more strategic approach to recycling—
                      clarifying AOC’s recycling mission and goals to assess whether it has the
                      right program design, organization, and implementation strategies in place
                      to achieve desired results, measuring and monitoring performance against
                      goals, and reexamining the roles and responsibilities of the recycling
                      program staff to ensure accountability for achieving recycling goals—could
                      improve the environmental results of the program. AOC officials have
                      indicated that the recycling program will be included in an overall
                      environmental master plan that it will develop in 2003. We agree with this
                      approach and believe that developing a clear mission statement for the
                      recycling program and using that statement as a basis for establishing
                      reasonable performance goals, developing a set of performance measures,
                      and aligning the organization to hold managers accountable for results,
                      would help AOC further improve its recycling program results.



Recommendations for   In order adopt a strategic approach to recycling, we recommend that the
                      Architect of the Capitol take the following actions:
Agency Action
                      • Develop a clear mission and goals for AOC’s recycling program with
                        input from key congressional stakeholders as part of its proposed
                        environmental master plan. AOC may want to establish reasonable goals
                        based on the total waste stream—information it plans to obtain as part
                        of its long term environmental management plan—that could potentially
                        be recycled.

                      • Develop a performance measurement, monitoring, and evaluation
                        system that supports accomplishing AOC’s recycling mission and goals.

                      • Examine the roles and responsibilities of AOC’s recycling program staff
                        to ensure that they are performing the right jobs with the necessary




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                     authority, and holding the staff accountable for achieving program and
                     agency results through AOC’s performance management system.



Agency Comments   In his comments on this chapter, the Architect generally agreed with our
                  recommendations and discussed the relevant efforts AOC has under way in
                  the areas of worker safety, project management, and recycling. In the area
                  worker safety, in addition to initial efforts to target areas that have the
                  potential for danger to life and health, the Architect stated that AOC is in
                  the process of developing program policies for incident reporting and
                  investigation, inspection, and hazard abatement and control. AOC
                  disagreed with our statement that its 5-year Safety Management Plan was
                  drafted independent of the broader strategic planning effort. Although we
                  believe this statement was true at the time of our review, AOC has
                  subsequently made efforts to improve the alignment between its draft
                  strategic and worker safety plans. Therefore, we deleted this statement.
                  The Architect stated that AOC’s implementation plan will focus on
                  strategic, long-term planning, training, and continuous improvement in
                  worker safety.

                  The Architect stated that AOC plans to address our recommendations in
                  the area of project management as another focus of its implementation
                  plan. Current initiatives include developing and scheduling training for
                  project managers; conducting condition assessments of the Senate, House,
                  and Capitol buildings this fiscal year, and of other Capitol Hill complex
                  buildings in subsequent fiscal years; and developing a 5-year capitol
                  improvement plan and the scope of work for a 20-year master plan of the
                  Capitol Hill complex.

                  In the area of recycling, the Architect stated that AOC is committed to
                  defining clear goals for its recycling program and will establish a dedicated
                  environmental function. AOC’s implementation plan will discuss its
                  approach to establishing program goals, integrating environmental
                  concerns into AOC’s overall strategy, and ensuring that measures reflect
                  goals and are linked to performance of key activities.

                  The Architect’s comments are reprinted in appendix II.




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Appendix I

Employee and Supervisor Focus Groups—                                                                    Appendx
                                                                                                               ies




Objectives, Scope, and Methodology                                                                        Append
                                                                                                               x
                                                                                                               Ii




                         To obtain additional perspectives on the areas examined as part of our
                         review and as an initial effort to support the subsequent collection of
                         routine employee feedback, we used focus groups to gather employee and
                         supervisor perceptions, opinions, and attitudes about working at the Office
                         of the Architect of the Capitol (AOC). Focus group interviews are a form of
                         qualitative research in which a specially trained leader, a moderator, meets
                         with a small group of people (usually 8 to 10) who are knowledgeable about
                         the topics to be discussed. This appendix describes our objectives, scope,
                         and methodology for the focus groups and lists the specific questions used
                         to conduct the focus groups.



Objectives, Scope, and   For our focus groups at AOC, we were interested in obtaining
                         (1) employees’ views of what aspects of working at AOC were going well or
Methodology              needed improvement, (2) whether employees had the resources needed to
                         perform their jobs, and (3) employees’ perspectives on AOC’s worker
                         safety program. We developed the overall approach to conducting the focus
                         groups, including the development and pretesting of the focus group guide
                         and questions and the selection of participants. We contracted with
                         Booz|Allen|Hamilton to facilitate 15 focus groups sessions and provide a
                         moderator, note taker, and analyses of the sessions.

                         We conducted 13 of these focus groups with employees from the House and
                         Senate Office Building jurisdictions, Capitol Power Plant, Senate
                         Restaurants, and the Construction Management Division. We selected
                         employees from these parts of AOC in accordance with our specific review
                         areas of worker safety and project management and also because they
                         contained some of the largest employee populations.

                         We attempted to assure that each group consisted of employees from the
                         same jurisdiction and shift and worked in trades versus nontrades
                         occupational categories, for example, a group comprising plumbers and
                         electricians versus a group comprising custodians and laborers. In
                         composing groups of employees from trade shops, we allocated our sample
                         roughly proportional to the number of employees in each shop with the
                         restriction that at least one employee from each shop within each
                         jurisdiction be selected for participation. There was one session that was
                         not composed in this manner due to scheduling difficulties and the
                         disparate number of employees within certain jurisdictions on certain
                         shifts. This session comprised employees from the evening shift from both
                         the House and the Senate jurisdictions.




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Once the composition of each focus group was defined, we randomly
selected 12 to 14 employees from a list of those employees who worked in
the jurisdiction, shift, and occupational categories that defined the group.
We invited a few more employees than would usually constitute a focus
group to adjust for the possibility that there would be some employees who
would not be interested in participating or would be unable to attend.

The other two focus groups comprised randomly selected employee
supervisors from the House and Senate jurisdictions. We held one focus
group with supervisors of employees in trade shops and the other focus
group with supervisors of nontrade employees. In all, we invited 200
employees to attend 15 focus groups and 127 employees participated.

A Booz|Allen|Hamilton facilitator and a note taker were present during
each of these 15 focus group sessions along with a GAO observer. AOC
management was not present during any session. During each session, the
facilitator let participants know that we were conducting a general
management review of AOC, and that they were randomly selected by GAO
to participate. The GAO representative assured participants that all
comments would be kept confidential and consolidated into one larger
report without identification, so no one individual or jurisdiction could be
identified.

We also administered an anonymous paper exit survey at the end of each
session to gauge whether employees felt comfortable speaking during the
session and make additional comments. The exit survey asked participants
whether they felt free to speak openly during the session. Only 7
participants of the 115 participants returning the exit surveys marked the
“no” response.

To obtain a better understanding of project management at AOC, we also
conducted one additional focus group with full-time, day-to-day AOC
project managers. For this focus group, we asked about what is working
well at AOC in project management and where there might be areas for
improvement. We also discussed (1) the project management process at
AOC, (2) the project management environment, and (3) resources and tools
utilized in performing project management duties at AOC.

We randomly selected 10 project managers from the Office of Design and
Construction and 4 project managers from the AOC jurisdictions. Eight
project managers participated in the focus group—5 from the Office of
Design and Construction and 3 from AOC jurisdictions. We facilitated the



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Employee and Supervisor Focus Groups—
Objectives, Scope, and Methodology




session. The project manager’s focus group followed the same set of
general guidelines as described above. All project manager participants
responding to the survey said they felt comfortable speaking freely in the
session.

The focus group results discussed in this report are summary descriptions
reflecting the range of views and perceptions held by employees,
supervisors, or project managers. A rough gauge of the significance of
these views can be discerned in the extent to which certain opinions or
perceptions are repeatedly expressed or endorsed by many participants
from multiple groups. Although the randomly selected participants are, in
part, representative of employees in those AOC components where they
work,1 the descriptive nature of the responses and the relatively small
sample sizes do not permit the development of reliable, quantitative
estimates that are generalizable to these AOC components.




1
 We do not know and cannot assess differences that might exist between the views of those
invited participants who chose not to attend the session and those who did.




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                       Employee and Supervisor Focus Groups—
                       Objectives, Scope, and Methodology




Questions Used in Employee Focus Groups

Employee Introductions: Please give your first name and how long you’ve worked at
AOC.

GAO is interested in finding out what is working well at AOC and where there might be
areas for improvement. We’re going to cover three basic areas today:

       1) what it is like to work at AOC
       2) whether you have the resources you need on the job, and
       3) your perspectives on worker safety issues at AOC.

1) GAO is interested in getting employee’s perspectives of what it is like to work at
   AOC.

       a. Working well: In your experience, what is working well at AOC? Why do you
          think these things are working well?

       b. Needs fixing: What do you think needs to be fixed at AOC? What would you
          suggest be done to fix these things?

       c. Communication: Do you get the information you need from your supervisor to
          do your job? Do employees and supervisors share job-related information
          freely? Do you feel comfortable giving input or ideas to management?

       d. Fairness and treatment of others: Do you believe the distribution of workload
          among employees is fair? If disputes and conflicts occur in the workplace, are
          they resolved fairly?

2) We would now like to talk about the resources people need to perform their jobs
   well.

       a. Equipment, etc.: Do you have the equipment, materials, and supplies you need
          to do your job? If you do not have these resources, do you know why? If you
          could tell AOC management about resources that you need to do your job
          better, what would they be?

       b. Job-related training: Does AOC provide you with the training that you need to
          perform your job well? Are there training needs that aren’t being met at AOC?
          For example, do you think your co-workers or supervisors need additional
          training? What areas would you recommend?

       c. Supervision: Do employees receive the help they need to do their jobs from
          supervisors? If there are conflicts on the job, do supervisors to step in and
          resolve them?




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      d. Teamwork: Do employees work well together within a work team? Do
         different work teams (e.g., paint shop and furniture shop) work well together?
         Do you have any suggestions on how to improve teamwork at AOC?

3) We would now like to talk about worker safety. In the past few years, there has been
   a lot of attention focused on worker safety.

      a. Have you received safety training in the last 12 months? Has the safety
         training you received been helpful in preventing injuries?

      b. Do you feel protected from health and safety hazards on the job?

      c. If you or a coworker were to experience an illness or injury on the job, what
         would you do? Are you comfortable in reporting illnesses and injuries?

      d. If you were to see an unsafe condition or hazard on the job, what would you
         do? Are you comfortable in reporting unsafe conditions or hazards?

      e. When a safety-related incident occurs on the job, do you think AOC takes the
         incident seriously (i.e., does its best to deal with the situation)? [Ask for
         participants for examples.]

CLOSING:

Are there other issues not covered today that you would like AOC management to know
about?




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                    Employee and Supervisor Focus Groups—
                    Objectives, Scope, and Methodology




Questions Used in Supervisor Focus Groups

Employee Introductions: Please give your first name and how long you’ve worked at
AOC.

GAO is interested in finding out what is working well at the AOC and where there might
be areas for improvement. We’re going to cover three basic areas today:

      1) what it is like to work at AOC,
      2) whether you have the resources you need on the job, and
      3) your perspectives on worker safety issues at AOC.

1) GAO is interested in getting your perspectives of what it is like to work at AOC.

      a. Working well: In your experience, what is working well at AOC? Why do you
         think these things are working well?

      b. Needs fixing: What do you think needs to be fixed at AOC? What would you
         suggest be done to fix these things?

      c. Communication: Do you get the information you need from your supervisor to
         do your job? Do employees and supervisors share job-related information
         freely? Do you feel comfortable giving input or ideas to management?

      d. Teamwork: Do employees work well together within a work team? Do
         different work teams (e.g., paint shop and furniture shop) work well together?

      e. Coordination: Do you have any suggestions on how to improve project
         coordination at AOC? Do you have the authority to make decisions or changes
         needed to get the job done? For example, if a project has conflicting
         schedules, are you able to rearrange shop resources?

      f. Fairness and treatment of others: How easy or difficult is it to ensure work is
         distributed fairly among employees? Are you successful in resolving conflicts
         in the workplace with employees? What resources do you use to resolve
         conflicts (e.g., do you refer employees to other offices if a conflict cannot be
         resolved)? Do you feel you have the support you need to resolve conflicts?




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                          Objectives, Scope, and Methodology




2) We would now like to talk about the resources people need to perform their jobs
   well.

      a. Equipment, etc.: Do you have the equipment, materials, and supplies your
         shop and your team needs to do your job? If you do not have these resources,
         do you know why? If you could tell AOC management about resources that
         you need to do your job better, what would they be?

      b. Job-related training: Does AOC provide you with the training that you need to
         perform your job well? Are there training needs that aren’t being met at AOC?
         What areas of training would you recommend for employees or yourself? For
         example, as a supervisor, how many of you have received training on how to
         supervise and manage employees?

3) We would now like to talk about worker safety. In the past few years, there has been
   a lot of attention focused on worker safety.

      a. Has your shop or team received safety training in the last 12 months? Is the
         training appropriate for your shop or team?

      b. Who provides the safety training? Do the trainers have the knowledge to
         provide adequate training to your team? Has the safety training you’ve
         received been helpful in preventing injuries?

      c. As a supervisor, do you believe you are fully informed about the important
         safety issues for your team?

      d. Is the emphasis on safety too much, too little, or just right?

          Instead: Do you feel that your workload allows you to balance safety
          concerns?

      e. Are you comfortable in reporting illnesses and injuries?

      f. Do you think your team takes reporting safety issues seriously?

      g. When a safety-related incident occurs on the job, do you think AOC takes the
         incident seriously (i.e., does their best to deal with the situation)? [Ask for
         participants for examples.]

CLOSING:

Are there other issues not covered today that you would like AOC management to know
about?




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                  Objectives, Scope, and Methodology




Questions Used in Project Manager Focus Group

Employee Introductions: Please give your first name and how long you’ve worked at
AOC.

GAO is interested in finding out what is working well at AOC in project management and
where there might be areas for improvement. We’re going to cover three basic areas
today:

      1) the project management process at AOC,
      2) the project management environment, and
      3) resources and tools you utilize in performing your duties at AOC.

1) The Project Management Process at AOC

   GAO is interested in getting your perspectives on project management at AOC. First,
   we want to hear what is on your mind about what is working well and what is not.
   And then we want to ask you specifically about some recent changes and current
   plans that are relevant to project management at AOC.

      a. Working well: In your view, what project management processes are working
         well at AOC? Why do you think these things are working well?

      b. Needs improvement: Where do you think project management processes need
         to be changed or fixed? What would you suggest be done to improve these
         processes?

   Now we would like to get your perspectives on some specific project management
   improvement initiatives at AOC.

      c. Planning: By a show of hands, are you aware of the forthcoming planning
         initiatives, including the building condition assessments and the master plan
         for the Capitol Hill complex?

          How do you think the planning will affect your future workload, if at all? How
          will it affect your priorities, if at all?

      d. Best practices: By a show of hands, are you aware of what are being termed
         the “Best Practices” initiatives to improve project management at AOC?

          More specifically, are you aware of the following:

             1.   “Cradle-to-grave” management?
             2.   PIC reporting requirements?
             3.   The “1391” process?
             4.   Any other aspects of best practices?




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                     i. Do these “practices” affect your workload? If so, how (i.e.,
                        easier, more busy work)?
                    ii. What works well about these components? What doesn’t work
                        so well? Why?
                   iii. How, if at all, would you improve these processes?

2) Project Management Environment

   We are also interested in learning more about various organizational processes as
   they pertain to project management at AOC.

      a. Priorities: (AOC-wide) As an agency, how well does AOC prioritize projects
         overall? And do you understand how those priorities are set?

         Are priorities clearly communicated to project managers?

         (Individual Project Manager) How do you set priorities for your own
         workload?

         With respect to your current workload, are you being asked to do too much?
         Too little? Please describe.

      b. Communication and team work:

         Here is a list of major stakeholders who contribute to or are interested in a
         projects completion. With respect to your relationship with each of the
         groups, (a) What is working well and (b) What needs fixing?

             -      Clients (both internal and external)
             -      Superintendents
             -      Office of the CFO/Budget Office
             -      Procurement Office
             -      Safety Office
             -      Assistant Architect’s Office (in general)
             -      Architecture Division
             -      Engineering Division
             -      Construction Management Division
             -      Cost Estimators
             -      Contractors
             -      Consultants

         In your view, which groups are able to communicate/coordinate most
         effectively with you and each other in order to get a job completed? Least
         effectively? Why?

         Do you get the information you need, when you need it? If not, what
         information do you need and why is it not getting through?




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         Do you have any suggestions on how to improve overall
         communication/coordination on project management?

      c. Decision making authority: As a project manager, it is implied that you have a
         certain degree of authority to keep a project moving. Do you feel that you
         have the right level of authority to ensure a project is completed on time,
         within scope, and under budget? If not, why?

         What would you like to see changed?

      d. Accountability: How are you held accountable for managing a project? Do you
         know how others who play key roles are held accountable?

      e. Supervision: Do you receive the help you need to do your job from
         supervisors? If there are conflicts on the job, do supervisors step in and
         resolve them?

         Do supervisors routinely review your work products and offer meaningful
         feedback on your performance?

3) Resources and Tools

   We would now like to talk about the resources and support you need to successfully
   manage projects.

      a. Resources: Do you have the equipment, materials, and tools you need to do
         your job? If not, what is needed? Do you know why a needed resource is not
         provided?

         Prompts:
            -     Do you need a project management system to help manage the
                  progress of a project?
            -     Project Information Center system
            -     Project Managers Manual
            -     Design documents
            -     Estimates
            -     Budget information
            -     Project Meetings including, team meetings, quarterly project
                  meetings, and midyear budget review meetings

         Are the right people asked to attend the meetings? Are there meetings you’d
         like to have but don’t?

      b. Job-related training: Are there any areas of project management where being
         provided some training would help you do your job better?




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                    Objectives, Scope, and Methodology




         Has there been any project-management-related training that you wanted to
         take but were unable to do so? If so, please describe.

      c. Needs: If you could tell management about resources that you need to do your
         job better, what would they be?

4) Summary of Issues

      a. Biggest issues: Considering our discussions today, what are the biggest issues
         project managers face?

      b. Consensus: From that list, is there one single issue that seems to be the most
         pressing facing all project managers?




                    Page 114                                                GAO-03-231 Architect of the Capitol
                        Appendix I
                        Employee and Supervisor Focus Groups—
                        Objectives, Scope, and Methodology




Focus Group Exit Survey Questions

We have prepared a simple two-question exit survey for you to complete here before you
leave. This survey is confidential. When completed, please place the survey in the box
before you leave.

PAPER EXIT SURVEY:

1) Did you feel free to speak openly about the issues discussed here today?

          Yes
          No (If no, please explain why.)

2) Are there other issues that you would like to GAO to know about? Please fill in here.




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Appendix II

Comments from the Office of the Architect of
the Capitol                                                        Appendx
                                                                         Ii




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Appendix III

GAO Contacts and Staff Acknowledgements                                                       Appendx
                                                                                                    iI




               For further information about this statement, please contact J. Christopher
               Mihm at (202) 512-6806. Individuals making key contributions to this
               statement included Thomas Beall, Justin Booth, Carole Cimitile, Kevin J.
               Conway, Elizabeth Curda, Deborah Davis, Terrell Dorn, Elena Epps,
               V. Bruce Goddard, David Merrill, Christina Quattrociocchi, Benjamin Smith
               Jr., Lori Rectanus, John Reilly, William Roach, Regina Santucci, Gary
               Stofko, Kris Trueblood, Sarah Veale, Michael Volpe, and Daniel Wexler.




(450071)       Page 124                                     GAO-03-231 Architect of the Capitol
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