Federal agencies need not reinvent the wheel when it comes to consolidating and sharing services such as information technology. A few agencies are leading the way in this area to help stretch funding and resources, though the potential for more collaboration still exists, according to a new report by the Partnership for Public Service and Deloitte.
The report, released Thursday, highlighted three federal agencies and one city/county government that are at different stages of moving from single lines of business to more efficient and effective models of providing mission and support services.
NASA in 2002 put in motion plans for its Shared Services Center, which now provides 55 support services like IT, human resources, finance and procurement together in one location to serve 10 NASA centers. The Energy Department’s Office of Environmental Management also consolidated both support and mission functions into its Consolidated Business Center to help improve procurement and manage the closure of contaminated nuclear sites.
Furthest on the shared services continuum is the Homeland Security Department, which, although still in the initial phase, is implementing the Integrated Investment Life Cycle Management framework to help address fragmented budgeting and redundant program reviews, among other challenges. Last year, the department applied the framework to mission-critical areas like screening and vetting, cybersecurity and biodefense. The framework has since led to improvements in clearing the lines of authority between departments and components, acquisitions oversight, data center consolidation and enabling the mobile workforce.
“To address national priorities as they proceed, [agencies] must identify the barriers to sharing governmentwide resources and efforts across disparate agencies,” the report states. “Only then can they determine how funding, oversight, operations and support services need to change in order to break through current barriers.”
Other agencies can certainly learn from these examples and can employ a variety of success factors to help move to a shared services model. Among the key recommendations are creating a clear and compelling business case, focusing on activities and processes that organizations have in common, putting an organization-wide plan for effective governance in place, encouraging trust by engaging key stakeholders early, continually measuring performance, and recognizing the importance of experienced leaders, according to the report.
“Although transforming how agency functions and services are delivered is disruptive, we found that agencies that took on the challenges have good results to show for it – improved operations, greater efficiency, cost savings and satisfied customers,” the report states. “We envision more agencies taking the risks involved in radical change to streamline and wring savings from mission-support and mission-critical services.”