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Accountability System: A system that contributes to agency performance by monitoring and evaluating the results of its human capital management policies, programs, and activities; by analyzing compliance with merit system principles; and by identifying and monitoring necessary improvements.

Activity Metric: A tabulation, calculation, or recording of activity or effort that can be expressed in a quantitative or qualitative manner. Also referred to as an output metric. Outputs are the products and services produced by a human capital program or activity. Outputs may include processes (e.g., paperflow, consultation) or attributes (e.g., efficiency, effectiveness, timeliness, accuracy, customer satisfaction).

Agency Annual Performance/Budget Plan: A combined performance and budget plan prepared yearly by agencies. Agencies are required to submit these plans in accordance with OMB Circular No. A-11, July 2004. This combined document must satisfy all statutory requirements for an annual performance plan as dictated by the Government Performance and Results Act (GPRA). A performance/budget plan relates specific program performance goals to the accomplishment of the agency’s long-term strategic goals.

Agency Strategic Plan: A formal description of how an agency will carry out its mission over a period of time. The strategic plan must include the agency's mission, its strategic goals, the strategies to be used to achieve the goals (including workforce adjustments, staff skills, and human resource programs), a description of the relationship between annual program performance goals and the agency's strategic framework, key factors that could affect achievement of strategic goals, and a description of program evaluations used in preparing the strategic plan. GPRA requires agencies to develop and maintain strategic plans covering a 5-year period, the plan is updated every 3 years.

Alignment : The positioning of the human capital system's policies, practices, and strategies in relationship to the agency's strategic plan and performance plan, so what is done in the system is in direct support of the agency's mission, goals, and objectives.

Audit: A systematic, independent, and documented process for obtaining evidence and evaluating it objectively to determine the extent to which agreed upon criteria are met (i.e., the agency strategic human capital goals/objectives and OPM's criteria for meeting Human Capital Assessment and Accountability Framework (HCAAF) standards in adherence with merit system principles, veterans' preference rules, and rules for avoiding prohibited personnel practices).

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Benchmarking: An organization change process directed toward continuous improvement. A benchmark is a comparative standard for evaluating accomplishments against known exemplars of excellence. It is a targeted goal beyond current capabilities, but for which the organization is striving. It is a search for best practices among recognized leaders who sustain superior performance and is focused on analyzing what the superior organization did to improve that could be applied in other places.

Best Practice: An innovative and creative human resource (HR) practice, project, activity, or program that facilitates achievement of the organization's mission. The relationship between the practice and its applicability to enhancing the mission is clear, and the practice is easily replicated by other organizations with similar circumstances. Best practices may be considered to be tested solutions to common business challenges.

Business Case: A method for projecting and documenting the benefits to be gained as a result of investing resources in a given strategy. A business case typically provides a cost/benefit analysis, information on return on investment over time, etc. Business cases tell agencies about the likely consequences of certain actions.

Business Forecasting: Determining future workforce needs by assessing anticipated changes in demographic trends, mission or program changes, external mandates, cyclical workload factors, job evolution, new technology and/or work processes, budget constraints or growth, new organizational designs, etc.

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Chief Human Capital Officers Act of 2002 (CHCO Act): Title 13 of the Homeland Security Act. The Act establishes Chief Human Capital Officers (CHCOs) in agencies, the Chief Human Capital Officers Council led by the Director of OPM, strategic human capital management systems, the relationship of strategic human capital management to agency performance plans and reports, and human resources flexibilities. It clarifies management accountability for managing human resources.

Coaching: Observing an employee at work and providing feedback and facilitative problem solving to enhance performance and correct deficiencies. Coaches use timely feedback to reinforce positive behavior or correct actions that are not consistent with the agency's mission or vision. Coaching focuses on helping an employee develop the skills and knowledge required to perform effectively.

Communities of Practice: A group of people bound by a shared interest, purpose, or practice. Within communities of practice, people share ideas and knowledge in many different ways, including real-time collaborative sessions, newsletters, and links to Websites. Communities of practice are often more flexible than formal networks in filling in gaps for community members about how formal training, policies, and procedures work in the "real" world.

Competency: An observable, measurable set of skills, knowledge, abilities, behaviors, and other characteristics an individual needs to successfully perform work roles or occupational functions. Competencies are typically required at different levels of proficiency depending on the specific work role or occupational function. Competencies can help ensure individual and team performance aligns with the organization's mission and strategic direction.

Competency Gap: The difference between the projected or actual availability of mission-critical competencies and the projected or actual demand for such competencies. Identification of current or future gaps typically addresses the size, composition, and competency proficiency levels of the workforce.

Competency Model: A framework that describes the full range of competencies required to be successful in a particular occupation. These models usually describe the required occupation-specific, or technical, competencies and general cross-occupational competencies (e.g., analytical competencies). Competency models are used to support key human capital programs such as selection, career development, training, and performance management.

Competency-Based Career Development Program: A program that focuses on the development of competencies so that employees acquire the critical skills and knowledge needed to perform their jobs and advance in their careers. Competencies define the clusters of knowledge and skills collectively needed for successful job performance and are directly related to achieving the agency's mission and goals. Through competency-based career development programs, agencies ensure they cultivate the skills and knowledge needed by the workforce to carry out mission requirements.

Compliance: The process of adhering to the merit system principles and related laws, rules, and regulations for which Federal leaders, managers, supervisors, and employees are held accountable.

Critical Success Factors: The areas on which agencies and human capital practitioners should focus to achieve a system's standard and operate efficiently, effectively, and in compliance with merit system principles. Each of the five HCAAF systems is based on critical success factors that make up the overall system. For example, Change Management and Diversity Management are two critical success factors associated with the Leadership and Knowledge Management system.

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Effectiveness: The level of achievement of program goals and the results intended (as defined in strategic plans and in legislation). Examples include the percentage of trainees employed 1 year after completing job training, the rate of compliance in filing tax returns, and the percentage of customers/employees satisfied in relation to relevant indices.

Efficiency: The ratio of the outcome or output to the input of any program; the degree to which programs are executed or activities are implemented to achieve results while avoiding wasted resources, effort, time, and/or money.

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Federal Workforce Flexibility Act of 2004: Legislation enacting several reforms relating to Federal human capital management, Federal employee career development and benefits, and pay administration. In the Act, changes to seven specific flexibilities are cited and the authorities related to them are broadened and increased.

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Government Performance and Results Act of 1993 (GPRA): The primary legislative framework through which agencies are required to set strategic goals, measure performance, and report on the degree to which goals are met.

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Human Capital Accountability: The responsibility shared by leaders, Chief Human Capital Officers, line managers, and human capital practitioners for ensuring people are managed efficiently and effectively in support of agency mission accomplishment in accordance with merit system principles.

Human Capital Investment: Identifying and using resources, including time and money, to ensure the workforce has the information, skills, and competencies needed to work effectively in a rapidly changing and complex environment as part of the agency's effort to achieve cost effective and timely results.

Human Capital Officer (HCO): The OPM representative to a Federal agency(ies) expected to partner with the agency to advance and maintain a strategic, effective, efficient, and compliant human capital system to support the agency's mission accomplishment. The HCO is the ambassador to the agency in the transformation of human capital in the Federal Government.

Human Capital Management Outcome: The intended result, effect, or consequence that occurs from carrying out a program or activity or delivering products and services. Examples of human capital management outcomes include establishing jobs that reflect appropriate work and organizational structuring, filling jobs with employees who have the competencies and skills required to do the work, and providing employees with accurate, transparent, and timely benefits and record keeping. Quality, customer satisfaction, and effectiveness indicators may all be used to measure outcomes. Note that outcomes differ from outputs. Through their work activities, individuals and groups produce outputs (i.e., products or services). Examples of human capital outputs include job analysis, classifying jobs, recruiting applicants, benefits and retirement counseling, personnel actions processing, etc.

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Key Elements: A description of what you would expect to see in an effective critical success factor. Key elements are similar to the Elements of Yes initially developed as part of the HCAAF. Each critical success factor contains several key elements.

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Leadership and Knowledge Management System : A system that ensures continuity of leadership by identifying and addressing potential gaps in effective leadership and implements and maintains programs that capture organizational knowledge and promote learning.

Leadership Competency Model: A model that describes the sets of skills and abilities required for individuals to guide the workforce. In the Federal sector, OPM's 1998 Leadership Competency Model (comprised of 27 competencies grouped by five broad dimensions) is the accepted model. It reflects the qualifications necessary to succeed in the Governmentwide Senior Executive Service and is also used by agencies in selecting managers and supervisors.

Leadership Development Program: A program whose purpose is to ensure: (1) current leaders continue to develop and "grow" the knowledge and skill necessary to effectively lead the organization, and (2) when a leader leaves a job, an equally talented and prepared employee in the organization is ready to step in and assume the responsibilities of the position. A leadership development program might also be designed to ensure that the organization has a recruitment strategy in place to attract the type of person needed for the leadership position. Successful leadership development programs are typically based on a well-defined set, or model, of leadership competencies.

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Mentoring: A formal or informal relationship between senior and junior employees for the purpose of supporting learning and development. A mentor holds a higher position and is usually outside the employee's chain of supervision. Informal mentor/protege relationships often develop in the workplace or in a professional group. When agencies establish formal mentoring programs, they assign mentors to proteges and provide formal orientation to them about their roles. Agencies typically target groups of people for mentoring who would most benefit from the mentoring process and identify mentors who are able to provide guidance effectively. Mentoring techniques include coaching, role modeling, career development advice, etc., to foster the protege's individual growth and career development.

Merit System Principles: Nine principles found in 5 U.S.C. 2301 by which Federal personnel management is to be implemented. Consequently, the merit system principles provide guidance for how managers should manage their human resources. These principles are the undergirding of the entire Federal Human Capital Management System. The Merit System evolved in America to ensure selections for Federal jobs would be open, competitive, and free of political coercion.

Metrics: Measurements that provide a basis for comparison. Strategic human capital management requires a reliable and valid set of metrics that provides an accurate baseline against which individual agency progress can be assessed. Required outcome metrics are provided for the three systems that implement strategic human capital plans and programs: Leadership and Knowledge Management, Results-Oriented Performance Culture, and Talent Management. Additional suggested metrics are also included.

Mission-Critical Occupations: Occupations agencies consider core to carrying out their missions. Such occupations usually reflect the primary mission of the organization without which mission-critical work cannot be completed.

Model Organization: An organization that results from effective workforce planning. A model organization typically reflects an agency's future direction. The model organization includes numbers and types (by competencies and occupations) of positions and employees needed and establishes the structure needed to carry out the agency's work activities.

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Outcome Metric: An assessment of the results of a program compared to its intended purpose. An outcome statement is a statement of basic expectations. Outcome measurement cannot be done until the results expected from a program or activity have been defined.

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Performance Goal: A target level of performance expressed as a tangible, measurable objective against which actual performance can be compared, including a goal expressed as a quantitative standard, value, or rate.

Program Evaluation: An assessment—through objective measurement and systematic analysis—of the results, impact, or effects of a program or policy; the manner and extent to which Federal programs achieve intended objectives. Program evaluations also are frequently used to measure "unintended results" (good or bad) which were not explicitly included in the original statement of objectives or were unforeseen in the implementation design. Evaluation, therefore, can serve to validate or find errors in the basic purposes and premises that underlie a program or policy.

Prohibited Personnel Practices: Twelve personnel practices found in 5 U.S.C. 2302 that must be avoided. These practices describe results or outcomes of poor management practices and should never occur. Managers are held accountable for making human resource decisions free of prohibited personnel practices.

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Result: The desired effects when key elements of a critical success factor are effectively implemented. Results are expected for each system in the HCAAF in two categories: effectiveness results and compliance results. Compliance results refer to specific statutory or regulatory requirements.

Results-Oriented Performance Culture System: A system that promotes a diverse, high-performing workforce by implementing and maintaining effective performance management systems and awards programs.

Return on Investment (ROI): A comparison of the monetary value of the business impact with the costs for a given human capital program. ROI is usually expressed as a percentage. ROI is part of a comprehensive measurement and evaluation system; there are various models to determine ROI.

Risk Assessment: A determination of the level of vulnerability or likelihood of adverse effects resulting from an action or decision. Risk assessments identify and manage potential risks. In the area of human capital, risk assessments help identify problems that pose high risk to organizational integrity including financial or legal threats, systemic violations of employee protections or veterans' preference, and potential loss of integrity in the public eye. It is growing more common for such assessments to be conducted when undertaking human capital initiatives to determine the potential risks to stakeholders.

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Staffing/Hiring Strategy: A strategy or plan for recruiting and hiring based on the agency's strategic goals and objectives. It includes analyzing and establishing viable recruitment sources that will produce candidates with mission-critical competencies and fill the vacancies in the organization, and targeting these sources for recruitment efforts. A staffing/hiring strategy is designed and executed to help establish the model organization.

Stakeholder: An individual, or group of individuals, who have a significant or vested interest in the outcome of an undertaking, key decision, or venture. In human capital ventures, different individuals and groups often have a shared responsibility for the successful outcome of a program or initiative because they share in the benefits of the program. Congress, customers, managers, and employees are examples of potential stakeholders.

Standard : A description of the critical human capital management outcomes for agencies to strive toward in each of the five HCAAF systems. For example, the standard for the Talent Management system is that the agency has closed skills, knowledge, and competency gaps/deficiencies in mission-critical occupations, and has made meaningful progress toward closing skills, knowledge, and competency gaps/deficiencies in all occupations used in the agency.

Strategic Alignment System: A system led by senior management—typically the Chief Human Capital Officer (CHCO)—that promotes alignment of human capital management strategies with agency mission, goals, and objectives through analysis, planning, investment, measurement, and management of human capital programs.

Strategic Human Capital Management : The active alignment of the talent, energy, knowledge and enthusiasm that people invest in their work, with the strategic objectives of the organization [Jeanne DiFrencesco, ProOrbis]. Leaders and managers can maximize their human capital assets by leading from the perspective that human capital produces sustained advantage; and by actively advancing the relationships among strategy, organizational design, deployment of talent, and results.

Strategic Human Capital Plan: A plan that sets forth how the agency's human capital management strategies will be aligned with the agency's mission, goals, and objectives through analysis, planning, investment, and management of human capital programs. Broadly stated, the plan describes what the agency will do to ensure its employees have the mission-critical competencies required to carry out the agency's strategic goals. This includes workforce planning and deployment, including succession planning; recruiting and retaining talent; achieving performance goals; and addressing unique programmatic challenges.

Suggested Performance Indicators: Examples of visible evidence of the existence of key elements and compliance with merit system principles. Cumulatively, the indicators—both effectiveness indicators and compliance indicators—identify how well the agency is doing relative to key elements. The suggested performance indicators are linked to the key elements and are not meant to be an all-inclusive list. Human capital practitioners may need to search for other indicators if agency approaches differ from the list of suggested performance indicators provided. Agencies may decide which suggested performance indicators provide the best evidence they have implemented practices that lead toward achieving the standard.

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Talent Management System: A system that addresses competency gaps, particularly in mission-critical occupations, by implementing and maintaining programs to attract, acquire, develop, promote, and retain quality talent.

Training Needs Assessment: An identification of the gaps between the knowledge, skills, and abilities or competencies employees have and those they need to do their work effectively. A training needs assessment helps determine which employees need training and in what areas and forms the basis for agency training plans. Many sources of information exist to help agencies conduct a training needs assessment, including employee skills assessments against established competencies, Individual Development Plans, focus groups, workforce surveys, organizational performance data, etc.

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Validity Study: A study that determines the extent to which something does what it was intended to do. In the area of talent, for example, an agency might want to validate whether use of a particular recruitment source yielded candidates with the competencies required to support the agency's mission.

Veterans' Preference : Laws that were enacted to prevent veterans seeking Federal employment from being penalized because of time spent in military service. Consequently, veterans who meet eligibility requirements and who are disabled or have served on active duty during specified times or campaigns are entitled to preference over nonveterans for hiring from competitive lists of eligibles and for retention during reductions-in-force.

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Workforce Study: A study undertaken to look at the impact of a specific issue or policy on the workforce. OPM, for example, may conduct a workforce study to determine the impact of a Federal human resources policy on the success of the Federal Civil Service as a whole. Studies are sometimes prompted by analyses of personnel trends, findings from oversight reviews, or calls from stakeholders such as Congress. Subjects of studies undertaken by OPM (and many agencies which engage in their own studies) in recent years include veterans' preference, openness in the employment process, and telework.

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