FERC is first to use VA's payroll servicing center

When the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission this month started paying its
1,200 employees through a new human resources application, it marked dual
milestones—one for FERC and one for the Veterans Affairs Administration.


The development of the agency’s Management, Administrative and Payroll System
(MAPS) represents one way FERC is reinventing itself for a less-regulated energy market,
said Todd Singleton, an associate partner with Andersen Consulting of Chicago and a
consultant on the project.


The agency now issues its payroll through the new human resources, time-and-labor and
payroll application, which is based on integrated business applications from PeopleSoft
Inc. of Pleasanton, Calif.


Implementation of the system also is a breakthrough for Veterans Affairs. FERC is the
first franchising customer for VA’s new HR Link$ Federal Franchising Service.


The more cross-servicing VA can do for other agencies, the less it costs the government
overall, said Jennifer Duncan, the department’s director of the HR Link$ Federal
Franchising Service.


Veterans Affairs’ PeopleSoft HR and payroll service will compete directly with the
Agriculture Department’s National Finance Center in New Orleans for federal
outsourcing contracts.


“NFC is clearly the big kid on the block,” Singleton said.


After four months of planning, it took FERC only 10 months to move all its personnel
and payroll processes onto a Compaq Digital AlphaServer 1200 cluster in VA’s Austin,
Texas, Automation Center.


The AlphaServer was the best value, given FERC’s size and user characteristics,
Singleton said. The MAPS Alpha cluster runs Tru64 Unix, formerly Digital Unix, and hosts
the PeopleSoft HRMS 7.01 integrated business application for the federal government.


Application data resides in an Informix Dynamic Server 7.23 database management system
from Informix Corp.


Human resources administrators and timekeepers in Washington and Veterans Affairs’
shared services center in Topeka, Kan., access the PeopleSoft applications from Pentium
PCs running Microsoft Windows 95. They work on Novell NetWare 4.x LANs connected to the
Austin Automation Center by a T1 WAN.


In the next phase of the MAPS project, the Energy Department agency will configure the
PeopleSoft business software for work force management tasks such as performance and
skills development without having to worry about building any interfaces, said John
Sotelo, a financial project specialist in FERC’s Finance Accounting and Operations
Office.


Veterans Affairs was the first executive department to buy the complete federal
PeopleSoft suite. In 1995, it paid $6 million for PeopleSoft software and $9.3 million for
support services. It spent another $650,000 on expert systems software for interactive
voice response, position classification and resume processing.


Duncan estimated that about 70 percent of all federal agencies have bought some parts
of PeopleSoft’s integrated business app suite.


Most of the software will become part of live applications this year, said Jon Klem,
vice president and general manager of the PeopleSoft federal business unit.


For information about the HR Link$ Federal Franchising Service, send e-mail to jennifer.duncan@mail.va.gov.


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