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Human Capital Management



The HCAAF Resource Center presents specific guidance on the systems defined in the Human Capital Assessment and Accountability Framework (HCAAF) with linkages to merit system compliance. The guidance complies with merit system principles, veterans’ preference rules, and other civil service laws, rules, and regulations, including those relating to prohibited personnel practices.

The sections provide information about each of the following five human capital systems and their expected results as well as linkages to merit system compliance, where appropriate:

  • Strategic Alignment
  • Leadership and Knowledge Management
  • Results-Oriented Performance Culture
  • Talent Management
  • Accountability.

These five systems, though distinct, are necessarily interrelated to serve a common purpose of producing a world class workforce which:

  • Is effective in achieving agency mission results
  • Delivers the highest quality products and services
  • Quickly adapts to changing environments.

Human Captial Assessment and Accountability Framework (HCAAF)

The HCAAF consists of five human capital systems that together provide a consistent, comprehensive representation of human capital management for the Federal Government.

  • The HCAAF fuses human capital management to the merit system principles-a cornerstone of the American civil service-and other civil service laws, rules, and regulations.
  • Establishment of the HCAAF and its related standards and metrics, fulfills OPM's mandate under the Chief Human Capital Officers Act of 2002 (CHCO Act), as codified at 5 U.S.C. 1103 (c), and implemented under subpart B of 5 CFR 250, to design systems and set standards, including appropriate metrics, for assessing the management of human capital by Federal agencies. Definitions for each system, and an explanation of the standards and metrics, are documented in HCAAF Systems, Standards, and Metrics.
  • The regulation at 5 CFR 250.203 establishes requirements for an agency to maintain a current human capital plan and submit to OPM an annual human capital accountability report. The requirements in the regulation are by design congruent with the planning and reporting requirements contained in OMB Circular A-11 and title 31 U.S.C.

The HCAAF supports an ongoing process of human capital management in every Federal agency (planning and goal setting, implementation, and evaluating results, organized) in five systems:

HCAAF System Relationships

The five human capital systems work together to form a coherent structure that supports strategic human capital management in compliance with merit system principles.

Using the HCAAF will enable agencies to transform the Federal workplace into high-performing arenas where every employee understands and is able to maximize his or her contribution to agency mission. By applying the HCAAF, Federal agencies will be able to focus on:

  • Human capital management systems and practices that most impact attainment of their mission
  • Measurable, observable agency and individual performance results.

This will help to assure the American people’s continuing trust in the Federal Government’s ability to serve them through an effective civilian workforce.

HCAAF Taxonomy

The following components reflect the overall taxonomy of the HCAAF and explain how the information is organized in this resource center.

A standard describes the critical human capital management outcomes for agencies to strive toward in each of the five human capital systems.
These are 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.
Critical Success Factors
Each system is based on critical success factors that make up the overall system. Critical success factors are 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. For example, Change Management and Diversity Management are two critical success factors associated with the Leadership and Knowledge Management system.
The results describe the desired effects when key elements of a critical success factor are effectively implemented. Results are presented in two categories: effectiveness results and compliance results. Compliance results refer to specific statutory or regulatory requirements.
Key Elements
Each critical success factor contains several key elements that are similar to the Elements of Yes that were initially developed as part of the HCAAF. Key elements describe what you would expect to see in an effective critical success factor.
Suggested Performance Indicators
The suggested indicators (both effectiveness indicators and compliance indicators) describe examples of visible evidence of the existence of key elements and compliance with merit system principles. Cumulatively, the 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 that they have implemented practices that lead toward achieving the standard.


Metrics have been established to help agencies accomplish the standard for the three systems that implement strategic human capital plans and programs (i.e., Leadership and Knowledge Management, Results-Oriented Performance Culture, and Talent Management). These three systems have both required and suggested metrics.

  • Required metrics focus on human capital management outcomes from three perspectives: organization, employee, and merit system.
  • Suggested metrics focus on human capital management activities that support outcome metrics and show the health of a specific HCAAF critical success factor.

The metrics were developed through rigorous criteria. To be incorporated in the HCAAF, a metric had to meet the following criteria:

  • Align with the HCAAF
  • Drive organizational effectiveness directly or indirectly
  • Be applicable Governmentwide
  • Be actionable (under the control of the agency)
  • Be practical (cost effective and acceptable)
  • Be reliable (stable)
  • Be valid (accurate and appropriate for its purpose)

The metrics described in this guidance were carefully chosen to maintain their usefulness over time. In addition, many other human capital metrics exist that agencies may find they want to implement. Consequently, agencies are encouraged to augment these governmentwide metrics with other activity and outcome metrics relevant to their human capital objectives.

Refer to each specific system's section for the suggested metrics.

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