Optimize your federal workforce using data and analytics

Five Strategies for Federal Management to Maximize Human Capital


A typical federal agency spends 50 percent of its budget on workforce salary and personnel support functions.1 It comes as no surprise that federal management invests heavily in its people; however, shrinking federal budgets create pressure to reduce spending across the board. Now is the time to uncover opportunities to fund workforce optimization efforts, generating long-term savings that can be reallocated to mission services.

By following a more strategic, data-driven approach that aligns the workforce with the mission, federal management can meet the demands of shrinking budgets and rising retirement numbers—while still supporting their agency. These innovative strategies boost workforce efficiency and help federal management make data-driven decisions around human capital. Such actions both reduce workforce costs and increase productivity, making agencies more agile in today’s challenging economic environment.

1.  According to Accenture research and analysis


Despite spending cuts and hiring freezes, your federal agency can achieve its mission without austere headcount reductions. By optimizing your workforce, you can build a strategically efficient workforce that is agile to respond to the dynamics of today’s fiscal environment. Your workforce will also be equipped with the right people who have the right skills to support your mission goals.

Using workforce data to drive decisions can help your federal agency:

  • Reduce workforce costs.

  • Increase overall productivity.

  • Balance the supply and demand of talent.

  • Optimally allocate resources while staying aligned to strategic objectives


Many federal agencies are benefitting from workforce optimization strategies. For example:

  • A government agency analyzed its employee utilization against current staffing levels and targeted process improvements— these programs produced savings of $2 million a year (4 percent of the agency’s budget), which it could apply toward new capabilities.

  • Analytics and workforce optimization practices helped an organization determine the optimal mix of in-house and contractor personnel, maintaining high customer satisfaction while saving more than $1 million.

  • A branch of the US armed services used analytics to offer service re-enlistment bonuses that make effective use of incentive dollars. This improved retention rates while reducing recruiting and training costs.

  • A state government consolidated more than 100 state agencies, boards and commissions into a shared services model. They anticipate saving $145 million over the next 20 years.

  • A large defense agency reduced the number of position descriptions and performance standards by 20 percent across 12,000 employees, aligning their job model to revised processes, metrics and performance standards as well as saving $11.7 million in job maintenance and HR administrative costs.


These five strategies will help you optimize your organization—with the right blend of people with the right skills—to successfully execute your agency’s mission.

  1. Prioritize human capital initiatives
    Federal management often prioritizes projects and functions based on mission requirements, but not all agencies have a defined human capital strategy to align with these prioritized decisions. Agencies should collect/analyze the necessary workforce data to understand the as-is workforce structure in order to make informed decisions on implementing an effective human capital strategy.

  2. Use human capital analytics
    Both descriptive (historic) and predictive (future) analytics will reveal workforce issues and needs, enabling federal management to make informed recommendations on how to optimize the workforce.

  1. Improve talent forecasts
    Workforce planning studies frequently show a critical mismatch between the supply and demand of talent. By accurately forecasting attrition rates and analyzing future talent needs, you can determine the number and type of people required to achieve your agency’s mission.

  2. Rethink the operating model to optimize efficiency
    When agencies perform similar functions within headquarters and regional locations, this can lead to “shadow organizations” that perform redundant work. Assess your organizational design and operating model to streamline functions and improve processes.

  3. Understand competencies
    A competency framework defines which competencies are necessary for success in your organization, giving employees insight into which skills they should acquire, and which career paths they may want to pursue.