Recently, the Department of Homeland Security reached a milestone in the effort to implement functionally-oriented information technology portfolios that support the department’s mission and business functions: The completion of an architecture to manage our human resources systems, called the Human Capital Segment Architecture (HCSA).

It will be our model for conducting segment enterprise architectures for other mission and business functions going forward. HCSA promises to guide real and lasting transformation in our human capital organization.

The HCSA was not an academic exercise but a practical, executable way forward that combines both strategic and tactical approaches.
This article is the second in a three-part series adapted from testimony by Department of Homeland Security CIO, Richard Spires, addressing duplicative investment spending in government, released on Feb. 17, to a House Oversight and Government Reform subcommittee. The first article focused on the need for portfolio governance to make the hard, but necessary decisions to reduce redundancy.

Our first business-driven segment architecture, the HCSA, got underway in November 2010. The project involved a core team of DHS component representatives and enterprise architecture experts from the Office of the CIO working collaboratively with the Chief Human Capital Office (CHCO) planning team to provide project leadership and analysis.

A comprehensive HR IT system inventory revealed 124 systems at DHS, including many duplicative systems and applications across the enterprise….For the first time, the vision for human capital is shared across all DHS components.”

Oversight of the HCSA project came from the Human Resources Information Technology Executive Steering Committee (HRIT ESC), a portfolio governance board of human capital and IT executive representatives from every DHS component.

The HCSA effort conducted an in-depth analysis, formulated recommendations for executive review, and ultimately created a plan of action to guide DHS HRIT investments and human capital business processes for the next five years.

The plan identifies several near-term efficiencies, as well as critical longer-term improvements to fill automation gaps and reduce redundancy.

Outcomes from this project were not exclusive to technology. The HCSA also took an in-depth look at key business processes that, when combined with enabling technologies, represent the way work is done today.

The plan of action cites as many improvement opportunities in business processes as it does in technology. And, for the first time, the vision for human capital is shared across all DHS components. The HRIT Strategic Plan, created as an outcome from this effort, reflects the goals and objectives that will guide the department’s HRIT investments over the next five years.

One of HCSA’s key outcomes was a first-ever enterprise view of the current state of human capital people, processes, technology, and data. A comprehensive HRIT system inventory revealed 124 HRIT systems at DHS, including many duplicative systems and applications across the enterprise.

As an example, DHS currently maintains nine different Learning Management Systems (LMS). The HCSA plan of action will effectively shift a large number of these component-based systems and services to enterprise or Federal Government solutions, reducing redundancy and driving cost savings.

To maintain the momentum of the HCSA effort, we took actions to continue to mature the overall governance process as the HCSA neared completion. The department’s HRIT executive steering committee, which reviewed every stage of the HCSA, will continue to make final decisions on HRIT investments and hold components accountable for their role in the transformation.

Commitment, accountability, and diligence will be required–from executives to make decisions, from HR and IT subject matter experts to collaborate on transformational projects, and from all organizations to operate within the governance guidelines established and execute on the agreed upon plan of action.

The HCSA has been a watershed for expanding HR and IT communication channels between the department and components. Never before have the department’s HR and IT communities worked together so closely for such an extended period of time. The long-term impact of this level of close collaboration on the department’s function cannot be overstated.

More than 80 DHS employees, including a core team of HR and IT thought leaders from every component, met regularly to validate analysis, share ideas, and explain their systems, making possible a giant leap forward in aligning and coordinating activity between HR and IT across DHS.

The final article in this series looks at reducing the number common operating systems at DHS consolidated duplicative IT systems used for managing the department’s human resources work.

Richard Spires is CIO of the Department of Homeland Security and an officer of the Federal CIO Council. Prior to his appointment in 2009, he served as CIO and later Deputy Commissioner at the IRS.