OPM set to standardize personnel data

Of the 89 items of information that agencies collect for a civilian employee's personnel file, an address is not among them.

In fact, the information that agencies collect seems more useful in compiling a statistical database rather than a complete and useful employee record, Office of Personnel Management officials say. The lack of some information slows down the movement of personnel records and requires additional work by human resources employees.

To solve this problem, OPM is in the final stages of establishing 411 data elements, including an employee's address and amount of leave accrued, for a new electronic personnel file.

In the fall

The electronic records will replace paper versions starting Sept. 30.

Eventually, OPM expects each record will have fields for an additional 89 data elements. Agencies also will begin updating a centralized database biweekly early next year to create a warehouse of civilian personnel information, said Norm Enger, OPM's e-government project director.

The new online database is part of the Enterprise Human Resources Integration e-government project that OPM manages.

As EHRI moves into its final stages, OPM has hired Rhonda Diaz to replace Sandra Gibbs as the project manager, Enger said.

'We have continuity with the project because Rhonda understands the history and has had a lot of contact with agency counterparts,' Enger said. 'There has been no holdup in any milestone with this change.'

Diaz said her background in working on personnel systems will be beneficial in helping the project reach its milestones.

Diaz had been OPM's assistant director for work force information, where she ran the central personnel data file and FedScope, a database of federal civilian work force statistics. She also was in charge of deploying the Defense Department's Modern Defense Personnel System before coming to OPM.

EHRI, one of five e-government initiatives OPM is managing, eventually will provide three tools for agencies. OPM already has launched a work force analysis and planning application, which agencies began testing in January.

The agency will add the repository of personnel data, which includes electronic personnel files, at the end of the summer, and the system early next year will let agencies feed information digitally into the federal retirement system, which OPM is modernizing under a separate project.

Enger said the repository will be the first data warehouse to consolidate the personnel records of the government's 1.8 million civilian employees.

From here to there

'Employees no longer will have to wait for their information to be transferred from one agency to another when they take a new job,' Diaz said.

OPM has been working with its EHRI partner agencies to standardize the data elements and set a policy for the data's use, Enger said.

Diaz added that OPM will publish the data standards in a Personnel Data Standards Guide later this year.

To assist agencies in transferring data to the new repository, OPM plans to award a contract later this month for the integration of EHRI with agency personnel and payroll systems, Enger said. The teams bidding on the contract include IBM Corp., Lockheed Martin Corp., and SRA International Inc. of Fairfax, Va.

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