Tech tools help fight work force shortage
- By Colleen O'Hara
- Mar 12, 2000
Faced with an aging work force, a tight labor market and a rising demand
for workers with high-tech skills, the Office of Personnel Management is
acutely aware that federal agencies need help working through the federal
high-tech work force crisis.
OPM is developing a high-tech system to help agencies stay ahead of the
labor supply curve. OPM has asked SAS Institute Inc. to develop a work force
planning model and information system that agencies could tap to analyze
their work force needs. The system, open to all agencies, will draw on a
data warehouse of work force-related information to help agencies ease the
OPM said having the ability to do such analysis is particularly important
now. As agencies begin to deliver more services electronically to the public,
"we must ensure that we continue to recruit the right people for the right
job," said Janice Lachance, director of OPM. "At the end of the day, agency
human resource managers will be able to focus on the skill gaps of their
future work forces" to provide the best services and meet performance-based
goals, she said.
In work force planning, agencies consider what they need to accomplish in
a given period of time; what knowledge, skills, and areas of competence
are required to get the job done; and how large and what type of work force
The automated system for the first time will enable users to view through
a single interface governmentwide employment data together with agency-
specific employment data. In addition, agencies will be able to pull information
from other sources including the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the Census
Bureau and universities.
More importantly, agencies will use the system to anticipate changes
in attrition; identify retirement trends; and assess skills supply and demand,
occupational shortages and growth, and recruiting opportunities, OPM officials
The system will enable OPM to do some of the analysis it cannot currently
do, such as salary analysis and geographic head count analysis. "They will
be able to do it within more defined data sources and have a more accurate
picture of results," said Kristine Vick, human resources solutions partner
for SAS Institute's public-sector group.
The foundation of the system is a data warehouse, based on SAS' commercial
software package HR Vision. Data will be reorganized and stored in an easily
searchable data warehouse according to subjects such as compensation, benefits
and employee demographics.
Agencies will be able to access the data from a single point of service
via a World Wide Web browser. A data warehouse instead of a transactional
system, which is constantly updated, also will make it easier for agencies
to search and compare work force data, Vick said.
Agencies hope to get access to the system sooner rather than later.
"I've heard about the OPM system and I think it will be very useful, particularly
in the IT domain," said James Buckner, chief information officer at the
Army Materiel Command. "If you look at the Clinger-Cohen Act...we in the
CIO domain realize that one of our primary functions as a CIO is to continuously
assess our IT work force needs."
The Defense Department employs about 60,000 information technology workers,
Buckner said, which includes 10,000 to 12,000 IT workers in the Army. He
anticipates that the cur- rent 10 percent to 12 percent vacancy rate for
IT positions will creep even higher.
It is essential to identify any gaps in personnel and update plans for hiring,
training and keeping people on-board, Buckner said. The system "would be
a great asset to us to do that job better," he said.
OPM plans to test and evaluate the prototype system in late spring and complete
the final version by the end of next year.