Administration aims to get HR, financial centers on track

The Office of Personnel Management and the Office of Management and Budget expect by the end of the year to answer some of the biggest questions surrounding the Lines of Business Consolidation initiatives.

OPM will issue a set of minimum service-level agreement metrics for Human Resources Management Centers of Excellence. Meanwhile, OMB is in the final stages of figuring out who would pay for the transition costs when agencies switch from one shared-services provider to another.

Both of these issues are part of a larger LOB puzzle that slowly is coming together. During fiscal year 2006, officials expect a lot of activity, from agencies migrating to Centers of Excellence, to private-sector participation in becoming Centers of Excellence, to setting standards for human resources systems and approving vendor software that meets those requirements.

“We want to look at whether these functions, like financial management, are core to the agencies’ mission, or should they spend money to get data from a shared-services provider,” said Karen Evans, OMB’s administrator for E-Government and IT. She was speaking at a recent luncheon sponsored by the Association for Federal In- formation Resource Managers in Washington. “We really want people to look at this, and we will work with them as they move forward.”

Evans said OMB is working on how to deal with the cost of switching from one Center of Excellence to another when an agency’s needs are not being met.

A service provider also likely would have to pay the cost to get rid of an agency that is a bad customer, Evans said.

Norm Enger, OPM’s e-government program director, said a working group will draft a minimum service-level agreement template for all Centers of Excellence.

“Agencies can add more specifics in their own SLAs, but these are the basic levels that the Centers of Excellence must meet,” he said at the E-Gov Institute’s 5th annual Enterprise Architecture Conference in Washington. “We are looking at the criteria for what good customer service is, as well as the application of performance metrics.”

The SLA template will come just in time, as OMB expects large agencies to begin migrating to Centers of Excellence next year. While there is no stated goal, Evans said she expects at least three large agencies to migrate to financial management Centers of Excellence.

Evans said some small agencies already have migrated to financial management COEs, including the National Gallery of Art, the Federal Housing Finance Board, the Institute of Museum and Library Services, and OPM.

The Homeland Security and Housing and Urban Development departments are among the large agencies considering moving to a human resources shared-services center.

OMB estimates the government will save $5 billion through 2015 through the HR and financial Lines of Business.

Enger said the HR Line of Business task force also will publish a series of architecture documents by Dec. 31. The first set will be the framework for HR systems:
  • Requirements for compensation

  • Requirements for benefits

  • Requirements for personnel processing actions.

“These will talk about the business process requirements or the framework for the systems,” Enger said. “It is part of the HR Management Improvement Program, so we can test and certify vendor software.”

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