The General Services Administration and the Office of Personnel Management are teaming up under the Centers of Excellence initiative to improve IT systems that manage and store data on federal personnel, the agencies announced May 17.

“The time to address structural changes at OPM is now and GSA is helping us meet the needs of the federal workforce,” said OPM acting Director Margaret Weichert in a news release.

“Aging IT infrastructure at OPM has put the agency in an unsustainable position and hurt OPM’s critical human capital mission. By partnering with GSA — a proven leader in federal IT and technology contracting — through the CoEs, we are taking steps toward long-overdue transformation in OPM’s IT infrastructure and operations.”

OPM is the third agency to partner with GSA as part of the Centers of Excellence program, which began in December 2017 with the U.S. Department of Agriculture and has since been applied to the Department of Housing and Urban Development, as well.

“GSA is proud of the success that has been demonstrated by our Centers of Excellence initiative at both USDA and HUD,” said GSA Administrator Emily Murphy in a news release. “We are excited to begin the CoE discovery phase with OPM and leverage the expertise of our GSA IT team as we work with OPM to modernize their IT capabilities.”

According to the news release, the OPM CoE will focus on four areas of technical improvement: IT workforce planning; IT planning and governance; mainframe and disaster recovery planning; and the retirement services technology portfolio.

The CoE program includes five modernization centers — cloud adoption, contact center, customer experience, data analytics and infrastructure optimization — though GSA did not specify how the areas of focus for OPM would map to those centers.

“The American people deserve best-in-class services on par with those offered by the private sector,” said Chris Liddell, White House deputy chief of staff for policy coordination, in a statement.

“The GSA Centers of Excellence are focused on building the institutional capacity for sustainable change over the long-term, by sharing the best practices developed as they deliver meaningful and immediate results.”

Weichert telegraphed a potential partnership in a roundtable with members of the media on Tuesday, May 14, where she said that the administration would pursue partnerships between OPM and GSA in the absence of legislation that would enable them to merge the two agencies.

That legislation was proposed to Congress May 16.

According to the news release, OPM will begin with a sprint-based discovery phase to determine how best to address the agency’s IT needs.