Expert groups have recommended ongoing monitoring of the public health workforce to determine its ability to execute designated objectives. Resource- and time-intensive surveys have been a primary data source to monitor the workforce. We evaluated an administrative data source containing US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) aggregate federal civil service workforce-related data to determine its potential as a workforce surveillance system for this component of the workforce.
We accessed FedScope, a publicly available online database containing federal administrative civilian HHS personnel data. Using established guidelines for evaluating surveillance systems and identified workforce characteristics, we evaluated FedScope attributes for workforce surveillance purposes.
We determined FedScope to be a simple, highly accepted, flexible, stable, and timely system to support analyses of federal civil service workforce-related data. Data can be easily accessed, analyzed, and monitored for changes across years and draw conclusions about the workforce. FedScope data can be used to calculate demographics (eg, sex, race or ethnicity, age group, and education level), employment characteristics (ie, supervisory status, work schedule, and appointment type), retirement projections, and characterize the federal workforce into standard occupational categories.
This study indicates that an administrative data source containing HHS personnel data can function as a workforce surveillance system valuable to researchers, public health leaders, and decision makers interested in the federal civil service public health workforce. Using administrative data for workforce development is a model that can be applicable to federal and nonfederal public health agencies and ultimately support improvements in public health.