"A lot of people see this as the cornerstone that will help feed some of their other subsystems or other information." -Melinda Morgan
"The tool has really opened up people's eyes to the validity and the integrity of the data," said Melinda Morgan
, acting deputy director of the department's finance staff.
About 18 months ago, Morgan's staff began a project to adapt WebFocus from Information Builders Inc.
of New York for their use.The goal was to develop a suite of reports that could integrate payroll and personnel information and quickly provide reports and analyses.They wanted to get around the slow, painstaking process of searching the National Finance Center's mainframe for the information.
"We had been using Information Builders'
Focus product for the last 10 years or so, the mainframe version," Morgan
said."When they came out with the Web product, we thought this was a good way to marry some of our HR and mission data." Her
team spent about nine months planning their approach and then began testing.Morgan
said three or four department employees worked on the system while doing their other jobs.The system has been running for more than six months now, "and the important thing is that we were able to do it for $25,000," she
The system keeps track of pay and benefits, Morgan
said, and it has the capacity to do some what-ifs, such as identifying employees eligible to retire and projecting the effects if they do leave.
"This is an opportunity to reach out to some of the more mission-oriented organizations, on the law enforcement side, and say: What different information do you need?Do you need to know when your people were last promoted?Do you need to know, more importantly, where people are and whether there is a duplication of resources?"Morgan
Part of the application's appeal was that it was a reusable investment, she
said.It took data from legacy systems, tied it to mission data and put it into a place where it would get multiple uses.
For example, Morgan
said, "If we give people more money, do they stay?That kind of information."She
said the finance staff has passed a lot of information to Justice's personnel staff director, Debra Tomchek.
"It was available through the National Finance Center, but the way we got to it was by going through a very cumbersome process," Morgan
That involved tapping into NFC's mainframe and searching though libraries for program code.Justice used about 50 libraries dealing with human resources and payroll data-more than 30 of its own and about 20 trusted libraries belonging to other agencies.
"This tool allowed us to jump-start and streamline our reporting, and bring information down to managers' desktops, so they could make projections from trends and help contribute to the human capital information gathering," Morgan
The system retrieves information from the NFC and puts it into an Oracle8i database in Rockville, Md. WebFocus runs on top of the database.Users access it through the agency's intranet, using passwords.The system controls relational access privileges to different parts of the database.
Along with speed and analytical capabilities, Morgan
said the system also saved the department some money, cutting in half the per-minute charges for tapping into NFC's mainframe.
Justice is now looking to share the wealth, passing on its experiences to agencies such as the IRS
and Agriculture Department."There's no sense in everybody recreating," Morgan
said."We'll show people what we've done and be glad to share the code, share the logic, train their people, whatever it takes."
The bottom line is making good use of the data."A lot of people see this as the cornerstone of