Homeland Security to review HR options

The Homeland Security Department's senior review committee will meet for the first time this Friday to look at options for a departmentwide human resources system.

The review will likely be completed by October, and Secretary Tom Ridge and the Office of Personnel Management will then make a final decision, said Janet Hale, DHS' undersecretary of management, speaking July 22 at a session sponsored by The Heritage Foundation.

A group of about 60 experts from DHS and federal employee unions developed the options going to the review committee. They looked at best practices across government and workforce experiments, including initiatives at the Internal Revenue Service and the Defense Department, and visited 10 cities around the country to talk to DHS employees and managers, Hale said.

The review committee, led by Hale, includes leaders of the department's other directorates, union leaders and private sector experts.

Because the final decision won't come until the end of the year, Hale's office is establishing a centralized review process to make sure any personnel decisions made within one component will not affect the entire department, she said.

Hale's office also is developing a purchasing process, led by new chief procurement officer, Greg Rothwell. As with human resources, an investment review committee has been formed to identify joint investments and to make sure that an agency's buying decisions only influence that particular group.

To cut costs, many centralized purchases will be in science and technology, Hale said. A contract with Dell Corp., for example, to license several Microsoft Corp. software products could save almost $34 million. There are more savings to come, Hale said.

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