OPM creates data warehouse

OPM creates data warehouse

Prototype expected to play key role in agency's analysis of federal work force

By Patricia Daukantas

GCN Staff

The Office of Personnel Management has taken the first steps toward building a comprehensive warehouse of federal work force information.

Office of Personnel Management users would have a simplified point'and'click interface to query multiple sources in the data warehouse based on SAS' HR Vision.

The data warehouse, still a prototype, will be the computerized part of OPM's comprehensive model for helping agencies plan their work force needs.

SAS Institute Inc. of Cary, N.C., customized its HR Vision decision-support software for OPM's prototype. The work force planning model will track public- and private-sector trends to reflect agency worker requirements, said Mary Lou Lindholm, OPM's associate director for employment service.

Lindholm said the model has five components: strategic direction setting, data and trend analysis, study of the current work force, development and implementation of an action plan, and continued monitoring and evaluation.

OPM's data warehouse, dubbed the Workforce Planning and Analysis Information System, will have a key role in the second of the five steps, Lindholm said.

The agency has identified a number of federal databases of information useful in work force planning. Besides OPM's own Central Personnel Data File, OPM frequently draws on occupational analyses from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, demographic studies by the Census Bureau, university profiles and curricula from the Education Department, and diversity data from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

OPM officials want to pull everything into a single resource, Lindholm said.

HR Vision gathers all the information behind a point-and-click interface, said Kristine Vick, partner for HR Vision solutions in the SAS public-sector group.

Written in the SAS programming language, HR Vision copies data from the original flat-file or relational databases and stores it in a common-format repository.

'The typical end user does not have the programming knowledge to get to those different data sources,' Vick said.

OPM's prototype warehouse resides on a server running Microsoft Windows NT at an OPM facility in Macon, Ga., Vick said. Users will interact with it via standard Web browsers and passwords.

The prototype leverages existing security within the data sources that it draws from, adding its own layer of security, Vick said. It can be updated automatically as often as OPM desires.

The OPM work falls under the SAS group's new method of working with customers on project strategy to finalize the goals early on, said Mary Ann Campbell-Hickland, a SAS marketing communications specialist. She said the new method makes for a faster return on investment.

For simplicity, OPM officials asked the project bidders to limit the prototype warehouse to a few occupations within the federal work force. OPM's own human resources office and the Social Security Administration will act as testers, Lindholm said. They will see whether their users can extract meaningful information from the data warehouse.

Based on the testers' feedback, OPM may solicit bids for a full beta version that would cover all occupations within the federal work force.

OPM officials hope the prototype will tell them whether the project is feasible. 'It may be very tough,' Lindholm said. 'It may be that we can't get all the things we want into the one automated tool.'

Beta version next

OPM awarded the contract to SAS late last year and has worked closely with SAS engineers on the prototype system, which was delivered last month. Testing could take most of the summer, and it may not be until autumn that OPM solicits bids for the full beta version.

Lindholm said she hopes that by this month, OPM will be working with a contractor on a beta version for release by the end of summer next year.

According to the tentative schedule, additional agencies would test the system late next year, and the system would reach final form in early 2002.

Congressional leaders and the White House are pushing for work force planning efforts, OPM spokesman Edmund Burns said.

'The government work force is changing,' he said. 'We'll need different skills.'

OPM will show off the prototype to federal human resources managers and specialists at a conference next month in College Park, Md., Vick said.


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