The Trump administration wants federal agencies to share more IT systems and services, rather than developing or purchasing their own, and it announced April 26 that it would be launching a new strategy to encourage that transition.
The Centralized Mission Support Capabilities for the Federal Government memorandum, issued by acting Office of Management and Budget Director Russ Vought, outlines the goals for shared services, establishes a method by which some agencies will be determined Quality Service Management Offices (QSMOs) that will lead certain shared service efforts, and creates a series of boards to advise on potential shared service opportunities and implementation strategies.
“This is a bold step forward for us to continue to help agencies achieve core mission by consolidating redundant administrative functions, eliminating duplicative costs, replacing antiquated technology, in order to improve both the quality and the delivery of these services,” said Federal Chief Information Officer Suzette Kent at a roundtable held after the announcement.
“We’re designating lead agencies for a set of common services where we have already agreed on the standards.”
The first four QSMOs — Treasury for financial management; Health and Human Services for grants management; the General Services Administration for human resource transaction services; and the Department of Homeland Security for cybersecurity services — will be “leading comprehensive planning efforts for a set of solutions” that move shared services forward.
Other QSMOs may be announced further down the road as more shared service priorities arise.
Agencies will also be required to appoint a Senior Accountable Point of Contact within the next 30 days to help coordinate actions across agencies and promote the adoption of shared services — which will come from both government and industry sources.
Most involved agencies, however, will spend the immediate future in planning stages to determine what shared services should be applied and where to better serve the government.
“There are things that are going to be done soon, but also this is a multiyear effort,” said David Lebrk, fiscal assistant secretary at the Department of Treasury.
For the federal workforce, this means that the most immediate impact of the new policy will be a dialogue with shared services leaders on how their jobs could be made easier or how the alteration of services at their agency may impact their work, according to Kent.
GSA’s NewPay system, which plans to provide software-as-a-service HR capabilities to government agencies, will also have a more immediate impact on federal employees.
But according to the memorandum, agencies will have to work with the Office of Personnel Management to determine which employees might be impacted by changing services and make plans to move them to another area of the agency or offer them training programs to migrate to another type of work.
“On NewPay or even the global approach to employee services is not about reducing the size of the federal workforce. This is about making sure that, consistent with the [President’s Management Agenda] we’re doing higher-value work,” said GSA Administrator Emily Murphy.
According to Kent, the initiative will encourage federal agencies to participate in shared services programs with a “pull and push” method.
“The pull, we expect, is because we will be offering a higher quality of services and services that are needed by every single agency. And also a pull because the standards have been defined. We want to have a place that agencies want to go because they’re confident in that suite of service offerings and the ability to deliver those services,” said Kent.
The push will come from new expectations that agencies justify why they are going elsewhere for the service.
“If someone wants to go out and acquire something different or do something different, their first stop is with the quality service management lead to understand how that aligns with the standards that have been set and the suite of solutions that are already available,” said Kent.
Jessie Bur covers federal IT and management.