OPM employee database boosted

The prototype for a database that could one day contain the official records for all federal employees has won the lion's share of proposed new money for information technology in the Office of Personnel Management during fiscal 2003.

President Bush's budget proposal includes $24 million for the development of an advanced prototype for the Human Resources Data Network, which would turn federal employees' paper personnel records into electronic records accessible governmentwide, according to documents released by the Office of Management and Budget.

Last year, development work for the network — launched by an interagency task force in 1999 — received $3.2 million.

OPM's budget proposed for the next fiscal year totals $274 million, a 30 percent increase over the budget in fiscal 2002. Of that amount, the agency would receive $60 million for IT projects.

In addition to the funds for developing the human resources database, that amount includes:

* $27.6 million for efforts to modernize federal retirement systems through automated recordkeeping.

* $2.5 million for a project to consolidate federal payroll systems — the 24th of a group of high-impact projects spearheaded by OMB and aimed at improving government service and eliminating redundant systems.

* $5.8 million for IT projects that will cut the cost and time to complete security clearances, deliver online training and simplify the applications and hiring processes for federal jobs.

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