The agency planned to replace its three HR systems in 2016 by moving to services offered at the National Finance Center in the Agriculture Department, but has since run into massive issues, according to Ned Holland, the assistant secretary for administration at HHS.

"The project is turning out to be a problem. We've got the program on pause, we are going to re-evaluate and ... we are likely to go back to market, because it didn't go very well," Holland said.

But the agency will still look for other avenues for transitioning from three HR systems to just one in the form of a shared service, Holland said at a Partnership for Public Service event March 13 focusing on shared services.

"It is clear to me that we need a single HR system for the Department of Health and Human Services. Frankly it's almost as clear to me that we need a single HR system for the entire federal government. It will not be easy," Holland said.

While the program is on pause HHS will continue data clean-up efforts and focus on documenting their processes for when the project resumes, according to the agency.

The work already done on data integrity and business process management as well as the gathering of requirements is still extremely valuable, the agency wrote on the HR modernization website.

Holland also criticized the current state of shared services providers within the government, saying that in most cases they lack the funding to make large-scale improvements even as they charge other agencies for their services.

"One of the problems that we have with shared services providers is that they are inadequately capitalized – not inadequately expensed but inadequately capitalized," he said.