As one of the nation’s most prestigious and respected public universities, the University of California (UC) needs high quality human resources (HR) policies and programs to support its world class academic and research operations. In addition, the UC Board of Regents requires assurances that HR policies are applied appropriately and consistently throughout the ten campuses, five medical centers and two national laboratories that comprise the UC system. To satisfy these needs, UC leadership sought validated HR standards to measure performance; assessment processes that compare performance against the standards and identify any necessary remedial actions; and external validation that certifies compliance with the standards.
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No off-the-shelf HR standards or existing assessment models matched UC requirements. Despite recent advances, “human resources” remains a relatively ill-defined practice, with little overall consensus on a universal set of standards against which HR can be measured. Also, while there are programs to certify individual HR professionals on the basis of their credentials or expertise, no program exists to certify HR systems as a whole. Thus, UC looked to the National Academy of Public Administration for assistance given the Academy’s strong reputation, large body of HR-related work, and deep reservoir of talent and expertise within its Academy Fellowship and staff.
This joint UC-Academy partnership produced the Certified Assessment of Human Resources Systems (CAHRS). Designed for UC, CAHRS is sufficiently flexible to be transferable to other organizations, both public and private, with relatively minor modification. CAHRS consists of five components:
1. Validated HR Standards against which HR performance can be measured
2. Readiness Review to prepare an organization for Self-Assessment
3. Self-Assessment to formally compare HR operations to the Standards
4. Peer Review to ensure the integrity of the Self-Assessment by producing an independent expert Opinion on the extent to which the Standards have been met
5. Certification which occurs when the Peer Review Opinion attests or certifies that an organization has successfully met all of the Standards