FWS plans to digitize its employee performance tracking system

Jenna Tews (left) and Shawn Nowicki discuss plans to combat invasive species in Ohio’s Conneaut Creek in 2015. The agency is working on a pilot of a platform that will track the performance of its workers (Joanna Gilkeson/USFWS)

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The Fish and Wildlife Service’s method of tracking the performance of its employees may soon get an upgrade.

Human resources software company Acendre is developing a pilot with the Interior Department agency to replace its paper-based performance management system with a new automated platform. The agency aims to deploy a pilot of the system in early 2017 — and, if all goes well, potentially launch the system to the agency’s 9,000 workers.

The pilot is part of a larger project within the agency to streamline its business processes, Pamela Sirotzky, chief of FWS’ Office of Business Innovation and Transformation, told FedScoop.

When the Office of Personnel Management in 2008 issued its End-to-End Hiring Roadmap, aiming to reduce the time it takes to hire a federal worker to 80 days, FWS conducted an analysis of its own processes and found it missed the mark, she said.

“We wanted to come up with ways to improve what we felt were the bottlenecks in the hiring process as well as in employee management processes,” Sirotzky said.

So FWS started replacing paper-based HR processes with automated systems, first constructing a digital library of job descriptions and then building on it with new applications to create a suite of interconnected web tools, called the Human Capital Management System.

Acendre’s cloud-based software will use APIs to draw from that system information about job titles and reporting structures to help provide a dashboard for managers.

The program presents managers with a picture of who reports to them and allows them to electronically enter goals for each of their employees, Mike Giuffrida, co-founder and CEO of Acendre, told FedScoop.

Employees, over the course of each performance appraisal period, can use the system to take note of their achievements in an electronic journal. During the performance review, the employees and managers can then access that information.

The system can also automatically generate a development plan for employees who are falling short in an area. In the long term, the platform will be able to gather data on how engaged workers are over time based on how they self-report their job satisfaction.

“There’s big challenges in the federal government [workforce] at the moment with aging baby boomers and having to do more with less, so performance engagement are fundamental,” Giuffrida said.

Acendre started in Australia but came to the U.S. in 2010. While FWS is the first U.S. federal agency to use the company’s performance management system, the Agriculture Department uses Acendre’s recruiting tool, Giuffrida said.

After FWS launches a performance management application, Sirotzky said she’s not sure what her team will tackle next. She noted, though, that a benefit to streamlining the HR process is it helps standardize how the decentralized agency — which manages the country’s 150 million-acre National Wildlife Refuge System and has offices across the country — operates, Sirotzky said.

“At the end of the day …  these tools are not created to make HR’s lives better, they’re created to make managers’ lives better,” she said. She added, “A manager’s time is better spent doing mission-critical work.”

Contact the reporter on this story via email Whitney.Wyckoff@fedscoop.com, or follow her on Twitter @whitneywyckoff. Sign up for all the federal IT news you need in your inbox every morning at 6:00 here: fdscp.com/sign-me-on.

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Applications & Software, Department of the Interior, Departments, Tech
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