By Daniel P. Elkins, Mission and Installation Contracting Command Public Affairs OfficeJune 30, 2011
FORT SAM HOUSTON, Texas -- An automated form developed practically overnight by a human resources specialist here in a search of a more intuitive tool to track performance planning and the appraisal process for the Army’s acquisitions workforce is being adopted by the Department of Defense.
In March, Department of the Army officials conducted training for the Mission and Installation Contracting Command leadership here in preparation for the May 22 transition of appropriated fund employees from the National Security Personnel System to the Acquisition Workforce Personnel Demonstration Project, or AcqDemo. It was during this training that Victor Gallegos, the MICC AcqDemo program manager, learned the millions of dollars required to develop a process to capture appraisal actions were simply not in the budget.
Instead, individuals were to document performance management actions in a Microsoft Word document as an interim solution, which struck Gallegos as a move in the opposite direction given the ever-growing importance of documenting appraisals and maintaining records.
“It posed a challenge since the document offered no tracking and no signatures,” Gallegos said, “and seemed we are taking a step back” in technology.
He promptly decided to brush up on his programming skills to see if he could build a better tool that enhanced the proposed Microsoft Office Word form due to its limitations.
While under NSPS, Gallegos said employees had access to the online Performance Appraisal Application tool as part of the Defense Civilian Personnel Data System. Through the application, employees, rating officials and higher level reviewers could create performance plans and monitor and rate performance.
“I was wondering if I could create a form accessible by everyone from a shared drive that still allowed tracking,” he said. “By the next morning, I had about a 70-percent solution.”
Gallegos spent countless hours of personal time over a few days developing the form that incorporates a PDF format offering extended features and from which reports can be extracted. Each section of the form is expandable, and the employee and rater sections are digitally locked by signature. The common access card-enabled program also offers a secure element allowing employees to access their respective objectives and appraisal data from a shared network location.
“This is significant,” insists Maria Allen, the chief of the MICC Civilian Personnel Division. “The Microsoft Word document was an antiquated solution while the new form not only makes documenting performance easier for employees, but also for managers as well.”
The HR specialist presented his program during the visit by the Department of the Army team, which quickly recognized the form was in fact the greatest leap in capturing AcqDemo performance data since the personnel program’s implementation in February 1999.
Department of the Army officials staffed the new program among other Army AcqDemo managers at the end of May and also recognized its potential application for the almost 14,000 DOD acquisitions employees transitioning from NSPS.
After sharing the appraisal program with Jim Irwin, the DOD program director for AcqDemo, earlier this month, a few adjustments to meet DOD requirements were added and implementation should come soon.
“This is a form essential to the performance management process of AcqDemo, so it was a red hot priority to get out to everyone with our recent conversion of some 13,000-plus folks from NSPS,” Irwin said. “His quick and careful support enabled that to happen in a few short days.”
NSPS is a human resources pay and performance management system for federal civilian employees intended to replace the long-standing General Schedule system. The 2010 National Defense Authorization Act called for the repeal of NSPS and transition of employees back to the General Schedule and other pay systems by Jan. 1, 2012. Since its repeal, more than 214,000 have transitioned out of the personnel system.
The number of personnel transitioning out of NSPS includes approximately 6,100 federal employees in the Army who transitioned to AcqDemo last month. Among those were about 150 members of the MICC who are responsible for planning, integrating, awarding and administering contracts in support of Army commands, direct reporting units, U.S. Army North and other organizations to provide the best value for the mission, Soldiers and their families.