Environmental Factor, January 2006, National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences
eOPF files are Here
By Colleen Chandler
Personnel files are now just a click away. Well, almost.
As part of the E-Gov initiative within NIH to provide employees with easier and faster access to their Official Personnel Folder records, those cumbersome files are being converted to an electronic storage medium. NIH officials said the physical files will still exist, at least for now, but the idea is to move away from the massive storage requirements of the old paper versions. The eOPF initiative, as it is called, was officially launched late last year.
The new electronic files will be accessible 24 hours a day through an automated system. Eventually, officials said, the system will be fully Internet-based to allow access anywhere at any time. Currently, however, employees can only access their records from a recognized computer address, such as their office computers.
According to a presentation by Bob Specter, eOPF Implementation Team member, the benefits of electronic personnel records include:
- Allowing employees to view or print documents 24 hours a day instead of having to request your file and wait several days.
- Allowing employees to monitor their own personal information such as address and emergency contact information, which ensures greater accuracy.
- Less people will handle personnel files, resulting in less potential for misfiled documents.
- Employees can sign up for e-mail notification each time a document is added to their file.
- Electronic files are more secure than paper, last longer than paper files, and are easy to back up, and hence, recover.
- Government costs associated with storing, maintaining and retrieving records are reduced.
- Employees can search for specific documents.
The electronic files are secured with full encryption, and every transaction on the system is logged. It is backed up daily, with weekly backups stored off-site. The automated system requires security certification from both OPM and the Department of Health and Human Services, and access is further restricted by the DHHS firewall, another electronic security measure designed to stop unauthorized access.
The eOPF effort is expected to be fully implemented throughout DHHS by summer, and in all federal agencies by summer 2008, according to the eOPF web site.