Automated system at HHS recycles data for many uses

The Health and Human Services Department has created a growing repository of data it can, at the push of a button, use and reuse for a variety of reports. HHS adapted software it uses to collect and organize information for its business cases and put it to other uses.
“It formulizes and standardizes the way we do data collection,” said John Teeter, HHS chief enterprise architect.

Portfolio management software from ProSight Inc. of Portland, Ore., creates a template whose data can be transferred to a variety of data collections.

For example, if the Office of Management and Budget asks for data on how department programs align to e-government initiatives, HHS can generate the requested report from its data collections.

The software gives managers a consistent collection point and perspective on how the collection is done. Data resides in an Oracle database from which the CIO team can extract information and produce reports in whatever format is required. “We collect the information once and use it multiple times for whatever purpose we’re required to report on,” Teeter said.

Use, reformat, reuse

Last year, HHS began using ProSight’s portfolio management module, or what they call an OMB 300 playbook, to improve capital planning capabilities for its Exhibit 300 business case submissions to OMB. The software collects data in a manner that associates it with IT investments and projects. The CIO team quickly learned it could use the software for a variety of data collection purposes, such as agency performance management, to meet OMB guidelines.

“We started experimenting with this for ad hoc data collections, with the ultimate vision in the background ... of creating a composite perspective across the enterprise,” Teeter said. The growing shared repository provides visibility into the performance of agency activities and lets agency executives determine if adjustments are needed.

When HHS gets a request for information from OMB, the CIO team produces a report with data extracted from the repository and any updates from the affected agencies. “Over time, we’ll be able to answer more and more of these requests for information without involving the operating divisions,” Teeter said.

For example, OMB recently re- quested information on the alignment of HHS projects and investments with e-gov, lines of business and SmartBuy initiatives. Each category required unique data.

HHS was able to encapsulate the request into one form, collect the information while making it easier for the agencies to respond, and then add the information to the repository to expand the HHS knowledge base about its projects and investments for future purposes.

The software creates forms or workbooks that reflect business rules, which ProSight keeps current with OMB guidance. “From that point, you can extend those playbooks for other purposes that might be unique to your organization,” Teeter said.

The CIO team also developed a Performance Measurement and Evaluation System configured to use the ProSight software to collect measurement data from a number of performance categories.

Action and reaction

The system is a reaction to the performance measures agencies are required to report, such as to OMB, the Government Accountability Office and the HHS Inspector General. The software gathers data in a central repository shared across HHS operating divisions. The department CIO’s office collects information quarterly and reports to the agency CIO how a division is performing in those areas.

“We actually have programmed in trends for whether they’re improving or declining, and the target goals for that measurement area,” Teeter said. “So, on a quarterly basis they can react to that. It’s a great tool for providing visibility into those things.”

HHS turns the data into a spreadsheet now, but ProSight can create a dashboard for a graphical view.

This summer HHS will start internal activities “moving in lock step with OMB efforts” to enhance the performance reference model, Teeter said.

The department will collect information on performance reference model measures related to OMB Exhibit 300s, which will let HHS align project performance goals with overall department objectives.

Specifically, the plan is to be able to show an alignment from the President’s Management Agenda through the HHS Government Performance and Results Act goals, through the HHS goals and continuing down to the actual projects initiated to support all those seemingly disparate objectives.

The data collection will illustrate the progress HHS projects are making and whether they should continue to be supported, adjusted or terminated.

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