shared services

Setting the standards for shared services

As federal agencies look to modernize their IT portfolios, the General Services Administration’s United Shared Services Management office is ready to help them consolidate their technology capabilities. But USSM Executive Director Beth Angerman realizes that it can be more complicated to succeed under tight budget constraints.

“President Trump’s budget and two executive orders have forced agencies to look at duplication and shared services, but this is not some brand new concept,” Angerman said at the Sept. 25 Professional Services Council Tech Trends event. "We’ve been looking at this for a long time."

USSM created the Modernization and Migration Management Framework in August 2016 to provides a playbook for agencies seeking to modernize or share their support systems. The guide identifies six phases of IT modernization projects for four different work streams and offers guidance, tools and templates for shared service migrations.

Over the past few months, USSM has focused on creating a Federal Integrated Business Framework to enable government agencies to coordinate their common business needs. The framework focuses on standardizing definitions for 57 data elements, creating use cases to show how the federal government operates and determining metrics to measure the success of outcomes.

“If we are really going to share we need to sit down and agree on what we are sharing, so we can create a process that helps us manage those standards as things evolve, new legislation is passed and new policies are implemented,” Angerman said. “This will allow us to better leverage our buying power in government in much smarter way.”

Opportunities also exist for industry to share their best practices with USSM. On Sept. 14, the office issued a request for information seeking details on existing software as a service solutions for financial management.

USSM is looking to learn about configuration options that industry solutions can provide to allow for customer choice and flexibility, and also what financial management business rules and processes in government should be standardized to eliminate customization. Responses are due on Oct. 6.

When moving forward with shared services, Angerman said, she has learned that looking at standards, change management and capital resources matter the most.

“Our hypothesis is that the government doesn’t need to own its mega administrative systems developed only for the federal government and customized in the way that we have always done it,” she said.

The ability to keep these customized services up to date with the most secure and innovative technologies is limited today, so Angerman said the limited amount of capital funds should be dedicated to mission-focused systems.

“The ability of shared service providers to scale and innovate services is largely dependent on a funding model that gives them access to capital to do so and for so many reasons it remains a challenge,” she said. “Once there are agreed-upon standards, we can see what tools are available and in use in the private sector to better determine if government is really too unique to use them or not.”

About the Author

Sara Friedman is a reporter/producer for GCN, covering cloud, cybersecurity and a wide range of other public-sector IT topics.

Before joining GCN, Friedman was a reporter for Gambling Compliance, where she covered state issues related to casinos, lotteries and fantasy sports. She has also written for Communications Daily and Washington Internet Daily on state telecom and cloud computing. Friedman is a graduate of Ithaca College, where she studied journalism, politics and international communications.

Friedman can be contacted at [email protected] or follow her on Twitter @SaraEFriedman.

Click here for previous articles by Friedman.

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