Labor uses Web for project reports

Labor Department's Employment and Training Administration

To keep track of contractors working for the Labor Department's Employment and Training Administration, agency officials have been using a Web-based system that allows users to list daily activities and tasks they've completed for projects.

Project managers and others there have been using xpdoffice, developed by xpdient Inc., a division of Scientific Systems and Software International Corp., for at least the past 18 months. Results include elimination of paperwork and significantly reduced time spent on administrative duties, said Jim Coliton, a project manager within the Web operations group of the ETA's performance, results and technology office. A majority of the 100 employees within that office are contractors, he added.

Before xpdoffice, Coliton, who is a contractor with the agency, said he would spend about six hours a week getting a weekly status report together for all the projects he oversees from the dozen or so people who report to him. He characterized it as an informal process.

"They would type up something and send me a report once a week about, 'This is what I did,'" he said. "Since it's now done on a daily basis, I think the information is much more accurate, and they're not glossing over things that they might have before."

The program facilitates a more complete daily report on a particular project or even several projects that contractors might be working on and the number of hours they've charged in that time period. He added he can even track others who may have logged hours on a particular project, but he wouldn't even know about their work until some time later.

"I've cut my work by about two-thirds because it's all electronic," he said. "I use their words of what they say they've done instead of trying to read five different paper reports and collate it in my own brain and retype it."

Labor officials implemented the application because of their growing use of outside contractors. Coliton said it started as a result of moving some contractors to an off-site facility. There was some concern about how they would be tracked because there wouldn't be face-to-face contact for a week or sometimes two. He said they have people in four different locations all using the Web to provide their daily updates.

"I still have to trust that what they put in they've actually done," he said. "But if at the end of the week, they say they've done such and such, and I look and see that that hasn't been done, I obviously have to go back and follow up with them. But that, fortunately, has not been a problem that I'm aware of."

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