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FCW : May 30, 2015
hared services, in which organizations get common business and oﬃce services from a third party provider, has been a regular private sector and state and local government practice for years. The federal government has languished in its use of shared services, but the push is on to change that. Beginning with the Federal IT Shared Services Strategy, released by the Oﬃce of Management and Budget (OMB) in May 2012, agency chief information oﬃcers are now expected to follow a "Shared First" approach to IT service delivery. Next generation shared services are one of the essential tools agencies will need "to successfully accomplish their missions in the face of tight resources and rising customer needs,” then federal CIO Steven VanRoekel said when the strategy was published. That’s not debated, and there are clear signs that the move to shared services is accelerating throughout government. How to get there without disrupting agency functions, however, is still a concern. A recent survey of agency chief ﬁnancial oﬃcers by the Partnership for Public Service found that many have implemented select shared services initiatives, but “are not viewing widespread implementation as their priority, due in part to past experiences with shared services and the challenges of sustaining long-term transformation efforts." The Shared Services Strategy outlines three general categories of IT intra-agency shared services, to be delivered by designated agency providers: • Commodity, such as web site and content management, infrastructure and asset management, and email, help desk and collaboration. • Support, such as records, human resources and ﬁnancial management. • Mission, such as performance management, geospatial IT, and federal health architecture. As well as a direct savings in IT costs and the people needed to provide these kind of services in- house, the Shared First approach is designed to support the OMB’s PortfolioStat process, an annual evidence-based review of an agency’s IT investment that aims to identify those that are not "well aligned" with agency missions or business functions, and can be cut back to free up funds for other purposes. It also leverages the use of strategic sourcing to help agencies get the lowest prices possible for their IT. In May 2014, four agencies— Agriculture’s National Finance Center, Interior’s Interior Business Center, Transportation’s Enterprise Services Center and Treasury’s Administrative Resource Center—were named as Federal Shared Service Providers (FSSPs) for core accounting and other purposes. Agencies are expected to consider these providers when looking for these shared services, before looking to other providers. Some of the Shared First vision has been relatively easy to implement. Many agencies have already moved to such things as Google Apps for email, for example, and, increasingly, electronic archiving, records management, help desk and collaboration functions are outsourced to service providers. Other parts need more help to put in place. In March 2013, the OMB issued a memo directing federal agencies "with limited exceptions” to use a shared service for future modernization of their core accounting and ﬁnancial systems. The Treasury Department was given the job of evaluating how well agency proposals met this guidance, and to work with agencies and service providers to improve the way those ﬁnancial services are delivered. Moving the more complex agen- cy functions to shared services has shown mixed success. In March 2015, for example, Health and Human Services (HHS) said it was halting the planned 2016 move of its human resources services to the Agriculture Department’s National Finance Center because of technical complexities and other issues. It might instead opt to go with a private sector services provider. Ned Holland, assistant secretary for administration at HHS, said at a con- ference hosted by the Partnership for Public Service that a part of the prob- lem with FSSPs was that they didn’t have the funding to make the kind of Target IT Shared Services Federal Agencies, Cautiously, Moving the more complex agency functions to shared services has shown mixed success. Sponsored Content SHARED SERVICES
May 15, 2015
June 15, 2015