It's been not quite a year since the creation of the Unified Shared Services Management Office, the flagship of the federal government sea change shift to Shared Services.
To mark the progress that has been made in that time, the General Services Administration held Shared Services Industry Day on Aug. 22 as both an informational session on the USSM's advancement and a rallying cry for more collaboration with industry to move forward.
"The state of shared services needs to be a lot stronger than it is," said GSA Deputy Administrator Adam Neufeld. "Every dollar spent on administrative services or every minute of a leader's time spent on these functions is a dollar or a minute away from the mission.
"The government simply cannot afford to do what it has been doing. We need to improve our shared services across the board."
GSA officials went on to lay out the progress USSM has made in centralizing functions like payroll, category management and IT migration with a series of panel discussions. Here are four takeaways from the day.
- Progress achieved before funding
One of the questions about USSM's establishment in October 2015, was how it would achieve its goals without any earmarked funding in the federal budget. Nearly one year later, the mission is still ongoing, even though the funding isn't.
This year’s operations have come from lines of business and from Chief Executive Officers, or CxO, Councils.
Executive Director Beth Angerman said that USSM has stood up its framework, including the Share Services Governance Board, Provider Council and Customer Council and is examining how shared services can improve HR functions.
On addition to the USSM plan, Angerman said, was the addition of Managing Partner Council to inform on best practices for the provider networks.
"This ecosystem is only going to work if we have really good partnerships with the subject matter experts in the organizations that house that experience around these different functional areas."
The Obama administration has requested $5 million to fund USSM in 2017.
USSM's first catalog drops this fall
Angerman also noted that USSM will roll out a catalog this fall detailing where agencies can shop for shared services.
"Do you know how many people say, ‘I don’t know who I can actually go to for those services,’" she said. "So we, for the first time, have the data to be able to make that information available to help inform customers and help make it transparent to industry as well."
The catalog will include a list of more than 260 subfunctions or activities and should better inform stakeholders on how the process works.
The Shared Services impact on contract vehicles
One question posed to a panel discussing the marriage of shared services and category management was its impact on some of GSA’s most popular contract vehicles.
"One of the fundamental things we are looking at with category management is how to get our arms around the data," said Steven Krauss, director of GSA’s Category Management Strategic Execution Office. "What we are starting to look at is what constitutes a best-in-class contract vehicle and how do we get more agencies to be buying off of those recognized vehicles as opposed to, say, creating their own standalone contracts."
Krauss added that the most common "suspects" for a best-in-class vehicle are GSA’s "One Acquisition Solution for Integrated Services" and Schedule vehicles, making them likely choices for future shared services tools.
What to expect from the presidential transition?
One of the biggest questions surrounding shared services is its future for the next administration.
With the election still more than two months out, Shared Services Policy Officer Dave Mader said that the goals of shared services have been evolving over the course of several administrations and, therefore, are likely to continue, no matter the president.
"What we are here doing and what this is all about is good government," he said. "It really does transcend political agenda."