HR service centers on the move

Agency human resources systems came one step closer to obsolescence last week with the appointment of an 11-member board. The board will independently validate and verify five agencies’ petitions to provide human resources support governmentwide.

The board will take a second look at the work the Office of Management and Budget conducted when it selected the Interior Department’s National Business Center, the Agriculture Department’s National Finance Center, the Treasury Department, the Department of Health and Human Services, and the Defense Department as potential core HR service providers for the entire federal government.

Agencies with mature HR systems will be the first to migrate to a common solution. Service center providers and private-sector companies will have to compete against each other for federal business.

Safeguards will exist for small agencies that don’t have much market power, said Karen Evans, OMB’s administrator for

e-government and information technology. “What we don’t want happening is getting agencies locked into a relationship and the costs skyrocket, the performance goes down and then they’re stuck,” she said.

Providers will sign a service contract and be required to meet regular performance measures, Evans added. And because agencies are buying HR services rather than the underlying technology, it will not be difficult for agencies to change their service centers.

“We’re writing it just like a regular acquisition, but the safeguards are even better because of the way the architecture is being set up,” she said.

About the Author

David Perera is a special contributor to Defense Systems.

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