Agencies hiring human capital officers

With a deadline fast approaching, agencies have begun to name chief human capital officers who will have responsibility for developing and managing the workforce.

A provision in the Homeland Security Act of 2002 requires agencies to name a chief human capital officer — a senior-level person who can serve as chief policy adviser on all human resources management issues.

Office of Personnel Management Director Kay Coles James asked department and agency heads to name a chief human capital officer by May 24. She said the person can come from inside or outside government and should have a mix of executive leadership and human resources competencies.

For instance, the person should align the agency's workforce plan with the agency's mission, goals and performance objectives. He or she must also ensure that workforce planning and deployment plans fit with the agency's budget, financial and operating plans.

In a May 13 letter to Rep. Tom Davis (R-Va.), James said OPM will soon publish a roster of the government's first "class" of chief human capital officers. In addition, the first meeting of the Chief Human Capital Officer's Council is scheduled for early June and a training academy for chief human capital officers is being developed.

"Agencies are well on track to meet the [May 24] deadline," said Max Stier, president and chief executive officer of the Partnership for Public Service. "Making the government an employer of choice is in everyone's best interest."

The General Services Administration and the Education Department are among the agencies that have named a chief human capital officer. And on May 5, President Bush announced his intention to nominate Ronald James to be chief human capital officer of the Homeland Security Department.

Just as the chief information officer position is not a technology job, the chief human capital officer position is not a human resources job, said Bill Leidinger, assistant secretary of Education for management, CIO and now chief human capital officer.

"Everything we do is interrelated," Leidinger said May 14 at a forum hosted by the Partnership for Public Service. "It's all driven by the work we do and what's needed in terms of people and processes."

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