Personnel Reform and Better Technology Are Intrinsically Linked

Maksim Kabakou/

It isn't enough to ask employees to do more with less -- they must do things differently.

The roles of agency chief human capital officers are evolving to emphasize how information technology can deliver smarter, more cost-effective services, boost training and encourage cross-agency collaboration, according to a new report.

The report, “Embracing Change,” released Tuesday by the Partnership for Public Service and Grant Thornton, highlights the results of an annual survey of 62 agency CHCOs and human resources leaders. While CHCOs cited common problem areas -- diminished budgets, declining employee engagement, an outdated pay system, an inadequate federal hiring process -- technology was touted in many areas as a solution, according to the report.

Agencies, for example, should make better use of workforce data to facilitate better management, CHCOs noted. A proposal in the Obama administrations’ 2015 budget would boost those analytics efforts through the creation of an engagement dashboard. The Office of Personnel Management and Office of Management and Budget also should continue developing and using data-driven HR tools, the report states.

In addition, 30 percent of CHCOs cited technology as essential to success in their role, though the majority cited staff resources (66 percent) and financial resources (66 percent) as most critical to their success.   

Consistent with findings in previous CHCO surveys, many respondents to the 2014 survey acknowledged that it is not enough to ask employees to do more with less; many must create more cost-effective ways of doing business. Many emphasized the need to consolidate or share HR services and IT platforms within or across agencies.

Technology also could play a larger role in boosting federal employee training efforts, particularly as agencies look to cut costs and improve employee engagement. Many CHCOs thought that HR University -- developed by an interagency workgroup sponsored by the CHCO Council -- should be continued and perhaps expanded.

OPM’s recently released strategic information technology plan is another example of how agencies can work differently with fewer resources to achieve results, the Partnership and Grant Thornton noted.

“Working smarter with more efficient systems and processes is only part of the equation,” the report states. “Leaders throughout government, including in Congress, must do their part too . . . With some stability returning to the budget process, now may be a good time to reinforce the link between the budget and the workforce an agency needs to get the mission accomplished.”   

(Image via Maksim Kabakou/