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[ISN] Coast Guard turns HR helm over to vendor
By Megan Lisagor
Dec. 2, 2002
The Coast Guard has outsourced the operations of its human resources
management system, a move the agency hopes will increase access to
current information and enhance the system's security.
With its new role in the Homeland Security Department, the Coast
Guard's mission is taking center stage, leaving less room for
information technology troubles. Anticipating this change, the agency
awarded Corio Inc. a contract in July to host its personnel program.
"Corio's going to pretty much run everything behind the scenes," said
Dave Swatloski, chief of the Coast Guard's information resources
The $6 million, seven-month contract, with four option years, will
allow the Coast Guard to focus on what it does best. "Just running a
very large system is a challenging proposition," said John Ottman,
Corio's executive vice president. "Their business is protecting the
coastlines, and that's where they want to focus."
The Coast Guard has reached the final stages of deploying a commercial
software package from PeopleSoft Inc. ? a major modernization effort
launched about four years ago to integrate multiple personnel
Even with a centralized system, agency officials realized they were
running out of resources. So, they initiated a competitive bidding
process and eventually asked Corio to come on board.
The company offered the best value to the Coast Guard, with the
ability to meet its security requirements and expanded capacity needs,
Swatloski said. "We had [disaster recovery] plans in place, but not
the robust type we'd like to have," he said.
Corio, meanwhile, will maintain duplicate systems running at two data
centers, handling security and intrusion detection down to the
database level, Ottman said.
"Security and disaster recovery are major concerns for them,
particularly with their role in homeland security," he said of the
Coast Guard. "They were more comfortable having an expert come in."
The Coast Guard has taken a smart path, experts said. "The most
successful organizations are those that truly identify their core
missions" and acquire other functions as services, said Myra Shiplett,
director of the Center for Human Resources Management.
The challenges ofrunning an effective system now belong to Corio.
"Maintaining a robust level of secur-ity will no doubt present the
most critical challenge as it does with any system used to collect,
store and provide access to confidential personnel data," said Rich
D'Adamo, president of Workforce Solutions LLC.
But security isn't the only concern. The Coast Guard also is looking
for around-the-clock service.
"We didn't have the resource level and staff to do 24/7 right now,"
Swatloski said. Under Corio's watch, the system will be Web-based and
available to about 45,000 employees anyplace and anywhere, according
Automatic upgrades and updates are another benefit, Shiplett said,
although the Coast Guard will keep any customization work in-house.
For instance, it has added a capability that enables users to issue
orders to military members and move them around.
"In general, the implementation of an automated system should free up
agency resources that can be redirected to mission-oriented
activities," D'Adamo said. "In the case of the Coast Guard, I would
expect that the new system will enhance their ability to accomplish
workforce planning goals, which includes recruiting and retaining a
That could mean hiring more employees, a possibility Corio is prepared
to handle. "If their requirements surpass where they are today, there
certainly would be no problem from our perspective to scale," Ottman
Flexibility is crucial as the Coast Guard heads into the Homeland
Security Department, along with 21 other agencies.
"The need to build in the capability to share information across
platforms with other prospective Department of Homeland Security
agencies could also be quite demanding," D'Adamo said.
For now, the Coast Guard has Corio's full attention. The agency
expects to transition its system to the company in March.
"To this point, they've been very helpful," Swatloski said.
Under a new contract, Corio Inc. will host and operate the Coast
Guard's human resources management system, which is based on a
PeopleSoft Inc. application. The job includes:
* Beefing up security and disaster recovery.
* Making the system Web-based and available around the clock to about
The company is currently in the planning stages and a migration is
expected in March.
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