Army builds a better HR toolkit

Army officials are turning to a new kind of program to help commanding generals and program managers avoid the headaches of conducting acquisitions for administrative, human resources, recruiting and study/support services.

Officials at the Army's HRXXI Program Office created the program, called HRsolutions, to help military officials find support staff without diverting their energy from their primary missions.

Within 60 days of submitting project requests under HRsolutions, a requesting officer can get full-time or temporary employees for information technology and administrative support. Requesting officers also can receive expert assistance in planning and holding conferences to explain new acquisitions, programs and weapon systems, said Susan Harvey, director of HRsolutions and the program office.

"Commanders and program managers can get high-quality services quickly by using the contracts," said Harvey, whose office oversaw the procurement. "HRsolutions offers a quick and easy way for managers to place work under competitively awarded contracts."

Officials in the Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Army for Manpower and Reserve Affairs awarded 12 contracts under HRsolutions Sept. 30. The performance-based program will make it easier for Army commanders and program managers to contract for human resources services, Harvey said.

Program office officials awarded 12 prime contracts with 93 subcontracts under HRsolutions. Resource Consultants Inc. and BCP International Ltd. received five of the 12 prime contracts.

Officials in the program office have started receiving task orders, including one for a study on command and control decision-making.

"There are always things that need to be improved in the military," said Ken Jodoin, senior vice president for corporate and public relations at BCP. "The military is stressed with Iraq and Afghanistan. Contractors can augment the military's workforce and provide subject expertise when needed. And when that is not needed anymore, we go away."

Officials at BCP and the other 11 prime contractors earned licenses to compete for human resources work in the four service areas, Jodoin said.

Commenting on the Army's approach, one public policy expert said that maintaining the quality of staffing will be important. "You need a process that's efficient and effective [and] reacts quickly but maintains quality," said Max Stier, president and chief executive officer of the Partnership for Public Service, a nonprofit, public advocacy organization in Washington, D.C.

The 10 officials in the program office worked on HRsolutions for three years. They issued the contract's draft and final requests for proposals in January and February. In April, officials received 43 proposals from vendors, Harvey said.

Each of the 12 prime contractors received a one-year, indefinite-delivery, indefinite-quantity contract with four option years. They can seek and win task orders up to a certain amount, Harvey said.

HRsolutions is not part of a government outsourcing trend, program officials said. Rather, its purpose is to provide new contracts when others end so that commanding generals and program managers have access to the human resources support services they need.

Program office officials will meet with commanders and program managers Oct. 19 to explain how HRsolutions works.

Program officials will start processing task orders Nov. 2. Army commanders and program managers, including those in the Army National Guard and Army Reserve, can send in their orders via the Web site www.hrxxi.army.mil or by phone, Harvey said.

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