System helps Treasury ease its HR paperwork

The Treasury Department, which spends 75 percent of its $12 billion budget on its 158,000 employees, is developing a computer system to reduce the paperwork burden that is associated with human resources tasks and to provide new personnel management tools.

The system, to be based on software from PeopleSoft USA Inc., would allow employees to perform tasks such as filling out time sheets and updating personal information online, thereby giving human resources workers time for more substantive work.

The system also would provide a single, integrated database of employee information— including data about pay, skills and career histories— that could be used to analyze work-force costs, build teams for new projects and other purposes.

Federal human resources professionals view such systems as a potential solution to mitigating their burgeoning workloads.

''One of the things information technology can do is make the sort of things we do with those forms available online,'' said Kay Frances Dolan, Treasury's deputy assistant secretary for human resources. ''With more accurate data, work-force planning and analysis will be so much more robust than it is today. We're going to be able to focus on what the facts mean, not what the facts are.''

Dolan said federal human resources departments have been increasingly called upon to do more than process forms. In a speech last month, she said these offices are "becoming more of a partner in executing business strategy,'' helping agency program managers find ways to attract, deploy and retain the employees they need to fulfill their missions.

A spokesman for the Society for Human Resources Managers said integrated human resources systems can help managers, who are pressed to "do more with less," save time by generating answers to personnel questions more easily.

The spokesman also said building those systems ''is a very big task,'' especially for the government where many legacy databases must be integrated onto one platform.

Bill Heitz, human resources systems manager with the Customs Service, said the new system will improve upon existing computer systems, which do not allow Customs managers to easily identify where their workers are deployed.

Heitz said he recently was asked to determine how many inspectors have worked at John F. Kennedy Airport in each of the last few fiscal years. Although he can now tap into a database to find out how many people were assigned to the Customs duty station' in Queens, N.Y., where the airport is located, the new system would allow him to limit the search to airport inspectors, he said.

Within the next few weeks, Treasury plans to award an integration contract to build the system. Although Treasury officials intend it to be used departmentwide, the 14 Treasury bureaus will decide how many modules they want to adopt.

Over its 10-year life, the system is expected to cost $335 million, said Kay Clary, program director with the Treasury Human Resources System program office. Clary said she would not reveal Treasury's estimated cost to build the system while the procurement is in progress.

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