Information Technology:

Selected Agencies' Use of Commercial Off-the-Shelf Software for Human Resources Functions

AIMD-00-270: Published: Jul 31, 2000. Publicly Released: Aug 30, 2000.

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Joel C. Willemssen
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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO provided information on the use of commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) software applications to improve human resource (HR) functions within federal agencies, focusing on: (1) how five federal agencies were using COTS systems/applications to improve their HR functions; and (2) for these five agencies, identify the agencies' reported estimated costs and expected benefits from using HR COTS systems.

GAO noted that: (1) the Department of Defense (DOD), the General Services Administration, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Department of Labor, and the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) all have efforts underway to use COTS systems and applications to improve their HR functions; (2) quantifiable benefits expected included requiring fewer employees to perform HR functions, reducing manager time for transactions and data analysis, eliminating duplicative or multiple systems, and implementing self-service HR functions, such as employee changes to health and life insurance benefits; (3) nonquantifiable benefits expected included a more user-friendly environment, easier manager/employee access, better decision-making and data analysis, improved data accuracy, and better information sharing; (4) despite these expectations, four of the five agencies' systems efforts have encountered delays, while three of the four agencies have increased cost estimates; and (5) to date, three of the five agencies--DOD, Labor, and VA--have reportedly achieved quantifiable benefits, such as full-time equivalent reductions from their HR COTS systems or related efforts.

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