On the road to a Federal Integrated Business Framework

On the road to a Federal Integrated Business Framework

The General Services Administration’s new shared services framework could expand the use of cloud services across the federal government, according to the Unified Shared Service Management Office's Robert Wuhrman.

GSA and the Office of Management and Budget are working on a Federal Integrated Business Framework (FIBF) to identify all of the common end-to-end processes in federal management and administration. Once the framework is complete, OMB will mandate how the government does 80 percent of its administration in finance, acquisition, grants, travel and human resources.

“One of the problems we’ve had historically is government agencies standing up very similar systems and then overcustomizing them,” Wuhrman said at an Oct. 19 Armed Forces Communications and Electronics Associations panel in McLean, Va.

When Wuhrman joined USSM and began working on governmentwide shared services, he realized that for the most part, agencies’ back-office systems weren’t so different. “It doesn’t really make sense for us to be building our own systems and customizing them,” he said.

USSM and OMB are in the process of establishing managing partners for the different business processes that will help create a unified federal architecture that a vendor could use to build and provide services. Managing partners work with their providers and others in the federal community to identify common processes. The USSM office is directing the overall common framework and “the skeleton” for what FIBF needs to be, Wuhrman said.

So far, the Treasury Department is the managing partner for financial management, and  the Office of Personnel Management will be the partner for HR management. USSM is still looking to for managing partners for acquisition, travel and grants management.

If vendors better understand federal agencies’ needs, USSM hopes they can build a baseline system that can meet that 80 percent of requirements, allowing agencies to configure the framework to address their specific business needs.

The consolidation of capabilities enabled by the FIBT also could shift even more government processes to the cloud.

Though there will the option for on-premise versions, putting these shared services in the cloud would reduce the number of instances of the same software across government and allow providers to layer their services on top of the system.

“You minimize the need to constantly have to patch and upgrade [software], to constantly have to secure it,” Wuhrman told GCN. With just a few cloud environments, security can be put around those shared services and the framework can run across the whole government.

The Treasury Department’s Office of Financial Innovation and Transformation, which will outline and standardize financial processes, is almost finished with its framework, and OPM’s human resources framework will follow. After the frameworks are built, Wuhrman said, the next step would be determining how these lines of business relate to and intersect with one another.

Shared services for some agencies, however, may be more complex. Shared software-as-a-service cloud models, like that of a single financial system across government, are more difficult for the Department of Defense to adopt, according to DOD Deputy Director for Defense Business Jane Rathbun.

“Before we get to ‘across the federal government,’ we have to get ‘across DOD,’” she said at the AFCEA event. Software-as-service cloud configuration would be challenging because of the level of customization required, and Rathbun questioned whether or not the provider would be able to manage the software upgrades in the cloud for the department. 

About the Author

Amanda Ziadeh is a former reporter/producer for GCN.


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