Budget cut forces DHS to revisit plan for HR apps

Congressional action to slash funding for the Homeland Security Department's human resources system could slow the project.

Conferees on the DHS appropriations bill set a $43.2 million budget for the department's human resources work, rather than the $70 million both chambers' appropriations committees had approved.

Cutting the funding is an unusual move. Conference committees usually only work out differences between House and Senate bills, but in this instance, they agreed to reduce the HR system funding even more.

The administration had requested $133.5 million for the department's human resources projects, including $21 million for the system that's dubbed MaxHR.

DHS awarded the MaxHr contract to Northrop Grumman Corp. in June, providing for spending up to $175 million over three years via a blanket purchasing agreement.

DHS deputy secretary James Loy said last week at a lunch meeting sponsored by IBM Corp. that the department plans to submit its personnel regulations proposal to the White House on Dec. 17. Following the meeting, he acknowledged that the funding cutback could slow rollout of the system.

'Most of those funding dollars are oriented to the training piece' of the HR system, Loy said. 'We can't afford to do it on the cheap because if we try, it's not going to be robust enough' to do what's needed.

The funding reduction could slow some of the planned computer-based training during the rollout of the personnel system set to begin next year, said a DHS official who requested anonymity.

'Some of the funding [that Congress cut] is for the fundamental IT backbone of the system that allows me to find you in the system, find out how much you are paid and the statistics about you,' the official said.

The official said the department could absorb the cut by extending its implementation schedule and that Northrop Grumman could make some changes, too.

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