Shared Services Government: A Blueprint for Sustainability

Until now, the federal governments’ approach to common support functions like human resources, financial management, travel, grants management, and cybersecurity have resulted in massive duplication of energy and effort. Earlier this year, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) issued a shared services policy to designate four agencies to act as leaders on a governmentwide standardization effort around technology, human resources, and financial services. As a blueprint for sustainability, shared services deploy industry best practices along with decades of lessons learned across the government landscape.

Ultimately, the goal of shared services is to aggregate resources, systems, and processes to improve quality, delivery, and cost of services. As a result of a merger of the Unified Shared Services Management Office with the Office of Executive Councils, a new entity was born. The Office of Shared Solutions and Performance Improvement of Governmentwide Policy (OSSPI) was formed to transform the way the government does business to improve the efficiency and effectiveness across federal agencies. With the use of cross-section and cross-government collaboration, performance data and expertise will play into strategies and policy changes. 

The OSSPI executes the Sharing Quality Services Cross Agency Priority (CAP) Goal. This program is designed to increase government efficiency, not eliminate jobs. Essentially, the CAP Goal program provides the components of the Federal Government Performance Plan which requires concrete goals and trackable metrics to ensure public accountability. Shared services allow agencies to introduce innovations like robotics, data analytics, and software integration. The goal is to improve future efficiencies and performance to free up the workforce to continue their focus on critical missions. Instead of workforce reduction, the process should improve high-value outcomes that align with agency missions and human capital planning objectives. The OSSPI coordinates governance, executes the CAP Goal program, and develops processes to support implementation.

To lead the shared services transition, the Quality Services Management Offices (QSMO) will optimize the federal workforce with shared resources to refine standardization, improve efficiency, and reduce duplication. 

The QSMO mission includes the following agencies and their respective mainspring:

  • General Services Administration: Concentrate on human resource services, automation, data analytics;
  • Department of Treasurer:  Focus on financial services, travel, and payroll;
  • Department of Health and Human Services: Centralize grant management; and
  • Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency: Explore cybersecurity risks, threats, and solutions.

The QSMO operates as a government storefront or marketplace. Agencies can shop various solutions for technology, implementation, and support through industry partnerships. Moving away from the one-size-fits-all mentality, shared services creates long-term options for agencies to integrate solutions to respond effectively and evolve into a sustainable channel of government. The entire effort is essentially the first step to development standards across government and recognize opportunities to share services. 

To improve standardization efforts, these selected agencies will lead and serve as common resources to reduce redundant tasks and share human resources and technology between agencies. Once the majority of the standards are agreed upon by the cross-agency community, it becomes a candidate for shared services. 

The key role of QSMOs is to offer modern technology and transaction solutions to drive scale, standardization, and efficiency. QSMOs will:

  • Present and supervise a marketplace of solutions for common technology, services, or fully managed services to respond to agency needs;
  • Advance and govern the long-term sustainability of the services and solutions marketplace;
  • Launch a customer engagement and feedback model that allows for continuous improvement and performance management of solutions; and
  • Navigate the implementation to standards established through the collaborative governance process that produce efficiencies in process and scale.

Achieving the benefits of shared services is a long-term effort and will challenge leaders to rethink how they make decisions. With everyone on board, the use of federal shared services is estimated to generate up to $40 billion in cost savings by the year 2025. 

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