Organizational Behavior -- Research Paper

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Organizational Behavior -- Case Study

Organizational Background

Under the Inspector General Act of 1978, every United States federal agency and federal program is subject to the oversight of an inspector general (IG) with appropriate jurisdiction (CULS, 2011; Edwards, Wattenberg, & Lineberry, 2009). Generally, the office of inspector general (OIG) monitors compliance with applicable federal rules, laws, and regulations, in addition to conducting financial audits to ensure that federal funds allocated to federal agencies and to programs under their jurisdiction are spent appropriately as intended by their respective programs (Damp, 2007). Generally, the IG of each agency maintains it headquarters in Washington within the headquarters of the agency and varying numbers of regional and field offices elsewhere throughout the nation, depending on the size of the agency. For example, a very large federal agency such as the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (USDHHS or DHHS) maintains regional offices in all eight federal regions in addition to field offices within some of those individual regions. Each regional office is headed by a regional inspector general (RIG) who reports directly to the agency's Office of Inspector General (OIG) headquarters in Washington (Edwards, Wattenberg, & Lineberry, 2009).Buy full Download Microsoft Word File paper
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Research Paper on Organizational Behavior -- Case Study Organizational Background Assignment

Every year, the various regional OIGs conduct compliance audits and financial audits of the programs and state and local agencies that are subject to federal agency oversight by law or that receive federal funds (Edwards, Wattenberg, & Lineberry, 2009). The regional DHHS OIGs conduct audits of both national and regional (or local) agencies and programs. In recent years, the audit report generation process has been plagued by several problems that have interfered with collaborative morale in addition to greatly delaying the report production and issuance process. Some of those problems relate to a lack of timely planning and coordination among and between the regional field offices; others that have been identified pertain to the leadership style and organizational culture that have developed in certain offices in particular. In addition, prior to 2007, there were fundamental motivational issues related to the nature of the compensation scheme for U.S. Federal Agencies that undermined employee motivation.

Organizational Issues Presented

Organizational Problem #1 -- Lack of Inter-regional Collaborative Audit Planning

Generally, there are various different types of audits but only two main types of audit planning and generation processes: audit plans are either assigned to the different regions (or to multiple regions simultaneously) by OIG headquarters, or they are planned by the RIGs independently in each of the different regions, corresponding to the specific issues, suspicions, and reports of potential fraud pertaining to those regions. Audits assigned by the IG in Washington bear the signature of the IG, whereas those planned independently in each region are authorized and reviewed by the IG but bear the signature of the RIG.

The IG-assigned audits involve planning meetings in Washington that are attended by all of the individual RIGs. As a result, the audit report generation process for national-level (IG-assigned) audits tends to be highly uniform and usually proceeds smoothly because the audits conducted by the regional OIGs all receive the same instructions and plans from headquarters. Conversely, many of the regional audits tend to bog down in conflicts that arise when audit plans and report organization in one region conflict with those of other regions anytime multiple regions happen to initiate simultaneous investigations. This happens fairly often because many of the irregularities, compliance failures, and crimes committed against HHS programs and funding sources occur on a multi-state basis.

Whereas IG-assigned audits are coordinated from the audit planning stage, regional audits have usually been planned by each region independently. Where only one region investigates a particular issue, there is no problem in the report generation process involving headquarters. Similarly, there is no problem when two or more regional audits happen to use similar audit plans and report organization. However, where individual regions initiate similar investigations of identical issues using substantially different audit plans and report organization, the issuance of the report was typically substantially delayed during the headquarters review process. During that review, it was not at all uncommon for the respective RIGs to vehemently defend the audit procedures and report organization implemented by their staff with the OIG headquarters staff required to mediate, determine which approach was preferable, and ultimately instruct one (and sometimes both) regional offices to conform to post-hoc criticism.

Organizational Problem #2 -- Regional Leadership Style and Organizational Culture

In Federal Region II, consisting of New York State, New Jersey, and the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, there have been problems with the New Jersey field office. The Region II RIG is located in the Regional headquarters in lower Manhattan. He oversees three Region II field offices in Albany, NY, Trenton, NJ, and San Juan, Puerto Rico. In the New York RIG headquarters, there are three audit managers, each of whom reports directly to the RIG. In Albany, there are three managers; and in Trenton, there are two managers. The San Juan regional office is managed by one of the regional managers in Albany.

Generally, the managers within each regional office work well together, each of them managing two or three audit teams. Sometimes all of the audit teams managed by one manager work on different investigations; other times, they collaborate on a single large audit. There are also Region II audits that involve multiple audit teams from different field offices, such as where the same potential audit issues arise simultaneously in New York and New Jersey state agencies. However, in New Jersey, there was a serious problem that arose because of long-standing rivalry and thinly-veiled animosity between the two regional managers. Their mutual personal antagonism caused the evolution of an unproductive rivalry between their respective audit teams, particularly when they were assigned to the same investigations. In many cases, the two audit managers purposely interfered with collaborative efforts and tacitly encouraged antagonism and rewarded audit teams and individual auditors who followed their leads. As a result, audits often became problematic in New Jersey and the entire report process of Region II audits was often delayed because of this issue in the Trenton regional office.

Organizational Problem #3 -- Federal Compensation and Employee Motivation

For decades, civilian federal agencies relied on a compensation scheme that failed to compensate employees who performed well and (in effect) only recognized poor performance (George & Jones, 2008; Giuliani, 2002; Robbins & Judge, 2009). In principle, this is not uncommon and has long been criticized as a reason that the performance and motivation of many public-sector employees is less than optimal. In that regard, the classic observation is that public sector employees typically work only as hard as necessary to avoid getting fired because they have little incentive to work any harder. The specific performance evaluation system maintained by the federal OIGs (and the rest of the U.S. executive branch of government) consisted of performance ratings of either "meets or exceeds expected performance standards" or "fails to meet expected performance standards (Damp, 2007).

All employees who meet expected performance standards receive nominal annual "within-grade" salary "step" increases (i.e. 2 or 3%) and progress along a standard career promotional track according to which they rise one "step" within their grade until they reach the next highest grade or until they are promoted to the next highest grade. Within step raises and advancement was automatic provided the employee met or exceeded expectations; promotion was automatic at the highest step of each grade or strictly discretionary based on the decisions of the RIG (Damp, 2007). As a result, federal employees within HHS had little incentive to do any more than the minimum necessary to maintain their good standing and continuous step increases except perhaps where they believed they were on the cusp of an out-of-grade promotion by the RIG. In addition to working less hard than they were capable, many HHS-OIG employees left the agency for private sector jobs in a pattern that cost the agency money and other valuable resources in recruitment, training, and audit team reorganization on a regular basis.

Solution to Organizational Issues Presented

Organizational Problem #1 -- Lack of Inter-regional Collaborative Audit Planning

On several occasions throughout the years, the IG staff in Washington HHS OIG headquarters became very annoyed at the obvious difference between the efficiency and timeliness of IG-assigned investigations on one hand, and individual regional-conceived investigations on the other one hand. Eventually, the IG in Washington realized that the solution was fairly simple: simultaneous regional investigations should never have been authorized without a collaborative investigation or audit planning process that involved all regional OIG components pursuing a similar investigation. Whereas the IG-assigned investigations and audits were carefully coordinated by the IG, the investigations and audits undertaken independently by the RIGs in each region lacked any coordination. As a result, it was virtually certain that their respective approaches and report organization would be different. By allowing the different regions to conduct their own investigations and draft their own preliminary reports before furnishing them to the IG in Washington, valuable time and… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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