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Who will pay for these shared services?

Say you set up an IT service in your department, a tracking system for instance, that proves to be most successful. In fact, the system turns out to work so well that other departments within your agency start using it. Perhaps even other agencies are interested in using this system, concluding this one would be superior to whatever they could cobble together on their own. Feather in the cap, yes? This is, after all, what the White House's Office of Management and Budget is looking for'eliminating redundant IT systems.

The trouble is, such popularity may cost your department dearly. You may have to upgrade the servers to meet the increased demands. Perhaps the software licenses need to be upgraded as well. And where will this additional scratch come from? You barely have enough IT budget to cover your own department, after all.

OMB chief architect Richard Burk provided some answers to this dilemma at today's Architecture Plus Seminar, held in Washington by the Environment Protection Agency and the Bethesda Md., chapter of the Armed Forces Communications and Electronics Association.

Starting with the 2008 budget cycle, Burk said, agencies could financially justify services under with the Federal Enterprise Architecture Component Reference Model (SRM), rather than under the FEA's Business Reference Model, as they had done in years past. Each year, agencies must map their to their enterprise architecture to their IT financial spending, and submit the results to OMB.

In years past, Burk explained to us after his presentation, using the BRM alone forced agencies to justify a share service through a specific business line, even when that service might actually have supported many different business lines. In contrast, justifying a shared service under the SRM requires no one business line. Instead, an agency can list the multiple business lines it supports, and, in doing so, arrive at a more accurate estimate of costs and benefits.

'We recognize the fact that many agencies are going to make investments in services, and then share [those services] across multiple lines of business. So this year, agencies can now map those investments to the SRM specifically and exclusively,' he said.

Empowering the SRM in this way is a significant change, one showing that OMB is standing behind the idea of reusable service components. 'You may well make an investment in a workflow management system, or tracking system, or customer relationship management system or geospatial. The justification of that is built into the service,' Burk said.

Nor do shared services need to be limited to a single agency. Burk also mentioned that agencies should use the Component Organization and Registration Environment, otherwise known as Core.gov, to list what services they have that might be of interest to other agencies.

--Posted by Joab Jackson

Posted by Brad Grimes, Joab Jackson on Jul 13, 2006 at 9:39 AM


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