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FCW : July 30, 2014
Shared services When it comes to case management, federal law enforcement agencies often have to find their own solutions BY ADAM MAZMANIAN Some of the most interesting projects are the ones that never happen. While the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives was planning its new case management system, the agency explored the idea of adopting the system used by the Drug Enforcement Administration, its fellow Justice Depart- ment agency. Case management for federal law enforcement does not easily translate into a shared service, ATF CIO Rick Hol- gate said in an interview with FCW. Back- end business functions such as finan- cial management, payroll and human resources make good shared services because they can run on a common platform and they are not mission-critical activities. “The further you get into the mission space, the harder things get,” Holgate said. A customized system like DEA’s Inves- tigative Management Program and Case Tracking System is about as far into the mission space as you can get in federal IT. But ATF agents and IT staffers who checked out IMPACT as part of their research were impressed by how closely the DEA system fit ATF’s requirements. “It was something like an 80 percent fit in terms of functionality,” Holgate said. “That’s a high degree of fit given that the two different organizations didn’t coordi- nate or communicate in how we devel- oped case management processes.” The FBI’s Sentinel and systems used by the Secret Service and the Immigra- tion and Customs Enforcement agency did not match as closely. IMPACT tracks DEA investigations from the opening of cases to the sub- mission of completed investigations to prosecuting attorneys, which it does with a single command. It interfaces with many of DEA’s peripheral systems, including time and attendance, financial management and laboratory management. Holgate and others were intrigued by other ways in which the two agen- cies overlap — notably that in addition to law enforcement, DEA and ATF have regulatory missions. DEA regulates the licensing of medical practitioners, manu- facturers and suppliers who conduct legal commerce in controlled substances and their raw materials, and ATF licenses sellers of firearms and explosives. Things got a bit trickier when Holgate and his counterparts at DEA looked at how a shared service might work on a practical level. DEA was happy to give ATF its source code, he said, but ATF lacked the in-house skills to maintain and Is law enforcement a new frontier for shared services? Department’s Interior Business Center, the Transportation Department’s Enter- prise Services Center and Treasury’s Administrative Resource Center. There are some synergies between shared services and data standardiza- tion, but shared financial services alone will not guarantee Data Act compli- ance, especially considering that the government expects the migration to take 10 to 15 years. Nevertheless, the discipline required under the Data Act could boost agency efforts to prepare financial data when it comes time to move to a shared service. “I would say that unless an agency already has their service provider or is in the process of moving to a pro- vider, the agency will be responsible for complying with the Data Act with- out great assistance from a third ser- vice provider,” said Elizabeth Anger- man, executive director of Treasury’s Office of Financial Innovation and Transformation (FIT), in an interview with FCW. “However, I think the data standard that comes as a result of the Data Act could be a longer-term solu- tion to streamlining and standardizing the business process across the shared- service providers.” The designation of financial shared- services providers was accompanied by a request for information from Trea- sury seeking ideas and ultimately pro- posals from private-sector firms to sup- ply services to help agencies migrate to shared services, minimize risks, plan for disaster recovery, improve cost structures and manage data in compli- ance with governmentwide standards. Although those procurements were not necessarily developed with the Data Act in mind — President Barack Obama signed the bill into law just two days after the RFI was posted — the focus on data quality, data portability and common standards supports the goals of the legislation. Indeed, Trea- sury’s Bureau of the Fiscal Service has been working on a plan for gov- ernmentwide financial data standards similar to the Data Act’s mandate. “We expect there to be some com- mon themes that we get from the RFI,” Angerman said. “One of those is likely to be the opportunity for industry to help look at the quality of the data before agencies move to the shared- services provider.” One possibility, she added, is a contract vehicle devoted to helping agencies clean up their data. Christina Ho, executive director for 20 July 30, 2014 FCW.COM
July 15, 2014
August 15, 2014