HHS moves to consolidate HR processes

The Health and Human Services Department has embarked on a program to aggregate human resources data from its 40 physical locations into a single Enterprise Workflow and Information Tracking System (EWITS).

EWITS aims to improve and consolidate the “disjointed effort” various HHS organizations have made to track more than 20 human resource-related processes, said Jack Stoute, acting director and CIO of the department’s program support center. HHS oversees eight operating agencies, representing more than 68,000 employees.

The first EWITS process to go live is recruitment, which provides information regarding available jobs, salaries and position grades, Stoute said.

EWITS is based on an earlier, similar effort by the National Institutes of Health. That system, called the Workflow Information Tracking System, tracks when HR personnel receive and send information.

“The recruitment module alone contains approximately 250 data elements, multiple process steps and workflows, hundreds of validation rules and multiple role-based participants,” said Bob Chatfield, director of the Personnel Accountability and Systems Division. “We believe that having the capability to track and report upon HR actions through their entire lifecycle, within the framework of a single departmentwide system is unprecedented.”

This tracking capability will provide HHS a “good handle on how long the steps take and allow upper-level management and overseers the ability to home in on the process and collect metrics to see how we’re doing,” Stoute said.

This data has already been consolidated into three physical locations, he added. “We aren’t trying to move people, but we are trying to have data reportable from one system.”

To help build EWITS, HHS has procured BizFlow, a business process management program offered by HandySoft Global Corp. of Vienna, Va. BizFlow can execute workflows that incorporate processes from other software applications, said Scott Byrnes, vice president of HandySoft.

Byrnes said private-sector companies have spent millions implementing many legacy applications and vendor applications. As these systems become antiquated, “agencies are faced with the challenge of whether to migrate to next version of an off-the-shelf application or spend $10 million to create a custom application.”

In response to this challenge, HHS looked at various systems used by its organizations and decided to use EWITS as its enterprise system, according to Stoute. In order to use EWITS, HHS is running the business process management tool over existing processes to serve as a user interface and workflow.

“Some of the tracking systems that were in place are still in place because EWITS does some of the tracking, but some of the tracking systems will eventually be phased out,” Stoute said. “EWITS is not stagnant; we are adding new features,” he added. The program will “act as a glue” that interfaces with the EHRP, hiring and job classification systems.

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