Agencies find pros, cons with HR systems

The General Accounting Office has found that commercial human resource systems

can deliver much in the way of benefits. However, agencies are struggling

with keeping the programs on schedule and under budget.

In a report released last week, GAO reviewed five agencies that were using

commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) HR systems — the Defense Department, Health

and Human Services' Center for Disease Control and Prevention, Department

of Veterans Affairs, the General Services Administration, and the Labor

Department.

These agencies have acquired the services of two primary HR COTS vendors,

Oracle Corp. and PeopleSoft Inc., for the majority of their system requirements.

GAO found that DOD, GSA, Labor and VA have encountered delays, while DOD,

Labor and VA have increased their cost estimates for their systems.

For example, costs for the Defense Civilian Personnel Data System, which

will contain records for about 800,000 employees, has grown by $248 million.

Deployment has been pushed from September 1999 to March 2001 because of

the need for additional testing.

But the effort appears to be worth it. DOD, Labor and VA have reportedly

achieved quantifiable benefits such as needing fewer full-time equivalent

employees as a result of their HR COTS systems or related efforts, according

to GAO.

Labor said it expects to save $226 million by replacing multiple systems

with its single PeoplePower system and by reducing the number of full-time

equivalent employees (FTEs) during 15 years. As of June 30, it had saved

about $3 million because of the elimination of about 30 FTE positions.

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