End of the road for the paper trail

The federal government is nearing the end of its personnel paper trail. Officials have made progress toward bringing human resources into the Digital Age by building the infrastructure for a new program that tracks every worker's professional path electronically—from hiring to retiring.

Office of Personnel Management officials are in charge of the new effort to create an online human resources recordkeeping and analysis system that charts the careers of about 1.8 million employees. It will eventually replace the paper filed in folders.

Offering managers and their staff real-time access to such information, agency officials say, will streamline operations and improve workforce planning. The high-

profile e-government initiative will eliminate personnel paperwork throughout executive agencies. Officials anticipate

a potential savings of about $235 million in 10 years.

OPM officials have reached several milestones in the Enterprise Human Resources Integration (EHRI) project, including the creation of a large data repository in which all employee records will reside.

The data warehouse will hold information on education, personnel actions such as transfers and promotions, retirement benefits and other activities. It will include training and payroll information, which officials did not previously collect.

The repository contains nine years of federal workforce history. OPM officials plan to add six more years soon, said Rhonda Diaz, EHRI project manager.

"When agencies come on board, it will give them a lot of benefits," Diaz said. Now, "you basically keep all [that] information in paper folders, and you have to go to a filing cabinet to get it." Other information is kept in systems with different levels of functionality and integration, according to the agency's Web site.

The electronic Official Employee Record will replace the Official Personnel Folder. OPM officials will scan the old records into EHRI and add new data to the electronic file.

"Today, when employees jump from agency to agency,

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