Outsourcing HR, financial apps pays off for FERC

Outsourcing HR, financial apps pays off for FERC

In October, when the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission moves application management and hosting of its human resources systems to an application service provider, it will be on familiar ground.

That's because last October FERC did the same with its financial systems, through a contract with Accenture of Chicago. The experience won FERC officials over to the idea of using ASPs.

'I'm even more convinced that they're a good solution,' said Janet Dubbert, FERC's director of management, administrative and payroll support.

The financial system, using PeopleSoft Financials software from PeopleSoft Inc. of Pleasanton, Calif., serves 135 users, most of them in Washington but also in Atlanta, Chicago, New York, Portland, Ore., and San Francisco. Using the PeopleSoft system has cut costs while giving managers immediate access to accurate financial data, she said.

Accenture supplies application management services while a subcontractor, USinternetworking Inc. of Annapolis, Md., provides database management and hosts the system on Compaq ProLiant servers. The system taps a Microsoft SQL Server database.

The commission always had planned to outsource its application management and hosting, as well as its payroll operation, because FERC isn't staffed to handle them. 'Internally, we've never had the support structure to manage' the systems, Dubbert said.

Since 1999, FERC has had an outsourcing deal with the Veterans Affairs Department's Financial Services Center for human resources and payroll processing.

Seeking a provider

But last fall, VA decided to phase out application management and hosting in a client-server environment'though it still hosts mainframe environments and provides other services. FERC was left looking for another provider.

FERC officials decided to combine their financial and human resources processing requirements and in February awarded the contract to essentially the same ASP team providing financial services: Accenture, using PeopleSoft HRMS and Financials, with USi providing application management and hosting. VA will continue to provide payroll services.

Dubbert said there is an advantage in having a single source for both ASP services because, 'ultimately, they're going to be interfaced.'

'By putting it into one ASP, I have better control,' she said. The one-year contract with five one-year options gives FERC flexibility and puts the responsibility for upgrades on the contractor, she said.

And, she said, a tour of USi's facilities convinced her that the system is secure.

Meanwhile, FERC's own users, who access the systems through the commission's network, won't notice the difference. 'None,' Dubbert said when asked how much change the users will see. 'It's completely transparent.'

'Kevin McCaney

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