recommended reading

Shared Services Can Be a Money Maker for Some Agencies

J Duggan/Shutterstock.com

Sharing services isn’t just a good way for federal departments to lower information technology costs, it’s also a way for underfunded agencies to scratch back some of their dwindling budgets by providing services to their peers, a Customs and Border Protection official said Monday.

CBP’s technology division has lost more than $600 million or about half its operating budget over the past four years as money has been shifted to pay for more border patrol officers, CBP Chief Technology Officer Wolfe Tombe said.

The only way Tombe’s office could absorb those cuts and continue to perform its mission was to ramp up shared services it could offer to other Homeland Security Department divisions for a “charge back” fee, he said.

CBP has developed infrastructure as a service and email as a service products for other Homeland Security divisions to purchase, he said.

Tombe was speaking during a panel discussion at the American Council for Technology and Industry Advisory Council’s annual Management of Change conference in Cambridge, Md.

Federal Chief Information Officer Steven VanRoekel launched a shared services strategy in May 2012. He has cited shared infrastructure for commodity IT -- such as computer storage, email and wireless services -- as one of the easiest ways for the government to cut IT costs.

Agencies also may be able to cut costs and earn revenue by managing community clouds, Tombe said.

He is especially interested in developing a shared law enforcement cloud, similar to an intelligence cloud being developed by the CIA and National Security Agency, he said. The cloud would be open to federal state and local law enforcement he said.

Storing information in computer clouds run by Amazon and other companies is typically cheaper for government agencies than storing information in on-site data centers because corporately run clouds can pack information more tightly and achiever larger economies of scale. Government-run clouds use essentially the same principle but at a smaller scale and can make it easier to share information between agencies.

Among the easiest ways to launch a shared service is with a newly adopted tool such as a learning management system that the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives purchased to track training and education programs, ATF Chief Information Officer Rick Holgate said during the same panel discussion Monday.

A general lack of learning management systems across the Justice Department made it easier for other divisions to pick up the ATF system, he said.

“Those of us in DoJ who don’t have a strong capability can foresee moving to a shared capability much more readily than if we had something today we were heavily invested in, felt very strongly about or that was a highly capable environment,” Holgate said.

In other cases, Justice has divvied up shared services among divisions with specialized knowledge in a particular service such as ATF with email or the U.S. Marshall’s Service with property management systems, he said.

When the department tried to impose shared financial services tools from the top down, the effort was less successful, Holgate said.

“In an attempt to be accommodating to bureau-level or component-level differences the department allowed some of us to approach financial management in a way that didn’t necessarily maximize the benefit of the shared environment,” Holgate said. “We still retained a little bit of our distinct ways of doing financial management across bureaus which means that inherently the shared service is not quite as shared as it could otherwise be.”

(Image via J Duggan/Shutterstock.com)

Threatwatch Alert

Denial-of-service attack

Cyberattacks Block Lloyds Customers from Online Banking

See threatwatch report

JOIN THE DISCUSSION

Close [ x ] More from Nextgov
 
 

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from Nextgov.com.
We think these reports might interest you:

  • It’s Time for the Federal Government to Embrace Wireless and Mobility

    The United States has turned a corner on the adoption of mobile phones, tablets and other smart devices, outpacing traditional desktop and laptop sales by a wide margin. This issue brief discusses the state of wireless and mobility in federal government and outlines why now is the time to embrace these technologies in government.

    Download
  • Featured Content from RSA Conference: Dissed by NIST

    Learn more about the latest draft of the U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology guidance document on authentication and lifecycle management.

    Download
  • A New Security Architecture for Federal Networks

    Federal government networks are under constant attack, and the number of those attacks is increasing. This issue brief discusses today's threats and a new model for the future.

    Download
  • Going Agile:Revolutionizing Federal Digital Services Delivery

    Here’s one indication that times have changed: Harriet Tubman is going to be the next face of the twenty dollar bill. Another sign of change? The way in which the federal government arrived at that decision.

    Download
  • Software-Defined Networking

    So many demands are being placed on federal information technology networks, which must handle vast amounts of data, accommodate voice and video, and cope with a multitude of highly connected devices while keeping government information secure from cyber threats. This issue brief discusses the state of SDN in the federal government and the path forward.

    Download
  • The New IP: Moving Government Agencies Toward the Network of The Future

    Federal IT managers are looking to modernize legacy network infrastructures that are taxed by growing demands from mobile devices, video, vast amounts of data, and more. This issue brief discusses the federal government network landscape, as well as market, financial force drivers for network modernization.

    Download

When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.