OMB launches 'Shared First' IT consolidation drive

In a draft proposal, federal agencies are asked to consolidate at least two agency systems under a shared services approach by December 2012.

The Office of Management and Budget released a draft policy that would require agencies to move at least two IT systems to a shared services model by the end of next year.

Under the plan, agencies must develop a shared services plan that includes ear-marking at least two commodity IT projects to migrate to a shared services environment by Dec. 31, 2012. Intra-agency system consolidation should be the initial focus, the OMB policy says.

The proposal also calls for agencies to develop benchmarks to measure quality and uptake of services provided under a shared services approach. Measurements could include current usage, customer satisfaction and service-level-agreement performance, OMB said.


Related coverage:

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Survey: Half of public sector CIOs balk at shared services


The shared services assessments are due by March 31, 2012, according to the proposal. 

The draft notes there are 300 organizations in the federal government, employing more than 2.6 million people and operating more than 10,000 IT systems. The bill for IT spent on unclassified programs alone is $80 billion annually, the policy notes.

The "Shared-First" plan is a continuation of the administration’s 25-point grand plan unveiled last year to improve federal IT management by increasing IT return on investment and operating more services over common IT platforms. 

Shared First calls for taking a “crawl, walk, run approach” that would enable agencies to gain experiences in sharing IT services initially by consolidating intra-agency commodity IT systems or “low hanging fruit.”

The focus on shared services within agencies “presents quick win opportunities" and "is typically less complex to implement and faster to manage than efforts between agencies,” the OMB draft policy says.

The policy draft calls for changing the “default setting” for IT investment decisions “from the development of new components to the utilization of existing resources,” enabling agencies “to do more with less and streamline their operations.”

The Shared First plan is part of what incoming federal CIO Steven VanRoekel has promoted as the federal government's “Future First” mission, a mandate to “continuously architect for the future.”

Among its principles, according to OMB, are: multiple consumers for each service, process standardization, object re-use, continuous monitoring of service, security controls and standardized application interfaces.

OMB is asking for comment on the “Shared First” plan by Jan. 31 from public sector agencies and industry and research groups before it releases a formal policy by next April. Comments can be sent to egov@omb.eop.gov with the subject line of “Shared First.”

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