This post is for IT departments. It offers some tips for tracking accountability through corporate data systems, a huge concern for the large number of organizations at both the federal, state, and local levels that will receive funds as part of the US rescue programs.
For months, we've been writing about how to reorganize for greater effectiveness with the smaller footprints. Over the past few days we've been writing about the opposite problem: reorganizing for expansion. The stimulus and other rescue funding is causing some organizations to grow, i.e. those responsible for managing the torrential funding stream (see "Transparency for accountability as the funds roll out" and "Accounting for trillions through OMB").
"Responsible," or accountable, are the operative words here. With a large number of new hires and even larger number of contractors flooding selected departments and agencies at the federal and state levels, the possibility of losing our "whose responsible" handle on the funds and their effectiveness is very high indeed.
There's something IT departments can do something right at the beginning, right now, to help. IT can do its part to ensure that org charts (what we're calling accountability maps) are naturally built into the system as people come on board. To do this, IT needs to collect two simple bits of data for each new "hire," whether employee or contractor:
- A position title keyed to a unique ID representing its place in the organization's structure (separate from the person's name and unique personnel ID); and
- A link to the supervisor position directly responsible for this job-holder (its "parent," in logical terms).
Large-scale enterprise data systems held by finance, HR, and IT departments usually house this information already. Finance tracks jobs for accounting purposes and HR tracks people's employment records, enabling them to automatically generate their own internal accountability charts. While most organizations, and certainly government, has this information, it is rarely rendered as a whole (see our USGov map of executive branch accountability.)
While IT often has this information (typically, in its LDAP directory), it sometimes has something more, the logins of all the contracted positions whose work is important enough to require access to internal information systems. If a contractor has access to the organization's network, there's usually a record of who authorized this access, i.e. the contractor's "parent."
Contractors are the "dark matter" of organizations, the great bulk of personnel who are not recognized by most finance and HR systems, except as line items and lump sums. If contractors are hired as a group, perhaps from an outsourcing firm, their from-to, parent-child links should connect to a lead contractor who in turn plugs into a particular supervisor, manager, or point of contact in the host organization.
If this information is collected at the beginning of the expansion wave, then you can automatically generate maps of the growing organization as it grows, attaching budgets, funds, deals, and other information as responsibilities are assigned. Thus, transparency for accountability is in place at the start, not after the fact. It enables complexity to be mapped and understanding to develop in real-time so changes and improvements can be made that are vital to success.
This simple recommendation--to gather and store job titles and parent links for all employees and contractors--is how any organization--public, semi-public, or private--develops its own charts of accountability. These connections serve as the foundation for the much greater participation and collaboration required to make the new organizations work in a time of tumult and uncertainty.
-- Jeff Stamps