Human Capital:

Selected Agencies' Use of Alternative Service Delivery Options for Human Capital Activities

GAO-04-679: Published: Jun 25, 2004. Publicly Released: Jul 16, 2004.

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Bernice Steinhardt
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Human capital offices have traditionally used alternative service delivery (ASD)--the use of other than internal staff to provide a service or to deliver a product--as a way to reduce costs for transaction-based services. GAO was asked to identify which human capital activities agencies were selecting for ASD, the reasons why, how they were managing the process, and some of the lessons they had learned. Eight agencies were selected to provide illustrative examples of ASD use.

The selected agencies were using ASD for the full range of their human capital activities. Agencies generally approached their management of ASD in similar ways. They conceptually agreed that human capital activities that did not require an intimate knowledge of the agency, oversight, or decision-making authority could be considered for ASD, although in practice they showed differences in their choices of ASD activities. GAO identified several lessons the agencies had learned about ASD management, such as the importance of understanding the complexity and requirements of an activity before making an ASD decision. As the President's agent and adviser for human capital activities, OPM also has a central role in assisting agencies' management of ASD. Several agencies noted that they used OPM's Training and Management Assistance program, which provides human capital contract assistance. However, the officials also cited the need for sharing information about specific ASD efforts, useful metrics, and lessons learned.

Recommendation for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Not Implemented

    Comments: OPM has not taken the recommended action. Instead, in September 2006, OPM released the Human Resources (HR) Line of Business Target Requirements for Shared Service Centers. This effort to take some agency HR practices out of the agency domain and use alternative service delivery (ASD) to provide a service or deliver a product is designed to enable the agency resources to do the more valuable, strategic work of HR. The governing structure of the HR Line of Business includes the Multi Agency Executive Strategy Committee (MAESC) comprised of 22 member agencies with OPM and OMB as co-chairs. The 24 participating agencies are OPM, OMB, DHS, DoC, DoD, DoE, DoI, DoJ, DoL, DoT, ED, EPA, GSA, HHS, HUD, Intel, NASA, NSF, SSA, State, Treasury, USAID, USDA, and VA. The MAESC ultimately reports to the OPM Director, who chairs the Chief Human Capital Officers' Council (CHCOC), and the OMB e-Gov Administrator. The CHCOC has established a HR Line of Business subcommittee, which updates the Council on ASD activities and has included the subject on the agenda of the CHCO Training Academy.

    Recommendation: Given the need expressed by agency officials about the importance of sharing data and lessons learned concerning the use of ASD for human capital activities and consistent with OPM's ongoing efforts in this regard, the Director of OPM should work with the Chief Human Capital Officers (CHCO) Council to create additional capability within OPM to research, compile, and analyze information on the effective and innovative use of ASD and strengthen its role as a clearinghouse for information about when, where, and how ASD is being used for human capital activities and how ASD can be used to help agency human capital offices meet their requirements. OPM should work with the CHCO Council to disseminate the type of spending data that human capital offices could use to leverage their buying power, reduce costs, and provide better management and oversight of their ASD providers. Such data would include the types of human capital services being acquired, which ASD providers are being used for specific services, how results are being measured, and how much is being spent on specific ASD activities.

    Agency Affected: Office of Personnel Management


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