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USDA Human Capital Planning

USDA Human Capital (Succession and Workforce) Planning

Human capital (succession and workforce) planning is the systematic process for identifying and addressing succession and workforce goals (goals focusing on the workforce of today and the workforce needs of tomorrow). These goals set the compass for staffing, competency and skills needed to accomplish the mission. The process of developing the human capital (succession and workforce) plan must be collaborative. Agency leaders provide both leadership and sponsorship for the planning process ensuring the strategic direction for the plan itself. HR professionals, as strategic partners, bring critical subject matter expertise related to the planning process and workforce issues to support agency leadership, the plan owners, in the development of the plan. Simply put, a human capital (succession and workforce) plan takes into, as shown in the graphic below, account internal and external drivers, determines impacts, and establishes goals, actions and monitors and reports results.

SWFP Concept

What is New in human capital (succession and workforce) planning? Historically succession and workforce planning focused primarily on workforce gaps, both staffing and competency and developing strategies to close gaps. Additionally succession and workforce planning, in most cases, took place separate from the strategic, programmatic, and the budget planning cycles. Also, reporting progress through the annual Human Capital Management Report (HCMR) on workforce related activities occurred separate from the agency Annual Performance Report. So what changed? Following are the changes related to human capital (succession and workforce) planning:

  • There is no longer a requirement for an agency to develop a separate Human Capital, Workforce and Succession Plan. This is a result of the Chief Human Capital Officer Council (CHCOC) memorandum on reducing redundancies and OPM’s transition from HCAAF to the Human Capital Framework (HCF). HCF focuses on performance and linkage to agency performance.
  • Agencies are required to develop a human capital plan, in accordance with USDA guidance that incorporate workforce impacts, succession and workforce goals, strategies to achieve goals and action items. This plan incorporates human capital, workforce and succession issues into a singular plan, therefore, reducing redundancies.
  • Succession and workforce planning will occur in conjunction with the development of the agency strategic plan. The financial needs to support the succession and workforce plan are expected to be incorporated into the budget planning cycle.
  • The succession and workforce plan will focus on performance. All action items will have a performance measure and metric, which is a HRStat requirement.
  • There is no longer a requirement for the Human Capital Management Report (HCMR). The mechanism for reporting workforce performance goals is in accordance with the Government Performance and Results Modernization Act (GPRMA)* via the agency Annual Performance Report and HRStat reporting. *For more information see OMB Circular A-11 or CLICK HERE.

USDA Human Capital (Succession and Workforce Planning) Model: The image below portrays the USDA's approach to Human Capital (Succession and Workforce) planning based on the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) human resources planning guidance. The purpose of this model is to provide a framework for developing your agency human capital (succession and workforce) plan. The framework assures the plan is data driven and linked to the strategic needs of the agency. The USDA model includes an addition of Step 4: Develop the Plan, due to the time and resources needed to create and get the plan approved by agency leadership. Each step is described in detail on the USDA agency/mission area resource pages and automated planning tool. The result is a roadmap for continuous improvement and the framework for transforming the culture, leadership, workforce and operations of USDA.


For more information contact Tiffany.Chavez@dm.usda.gov