Shared services poised for adoption

Quality Service Management Offices shared service offerings move closer to reality for federal agencies.

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With three of four Quality Service Management Offices (QSMOs) advancing their first offerings, federal shared services efforts have made significant progress in the last few months, according to White House and General Services Administration officials.

"In the last year, there have been three designations of QSMOs," GSA Administrator Emily Murphy said in remarks at ACT IAC's Shared Services Summit on Sept. 16. A fourth designation is expected soon.

During the summit, leaders of QSMOs at GSA, the Treasury Department and the Department of Homeland Security's Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency said they are close to offering initial services. A fourth QSMO at the Department of Health and Human Services is nearing a final approval by the Shared Services Governance Board that reviews operational plans, according to its manager at the agency.

The QSMO strategy, Deputy Federal CIO Maria Roat said, takes the long view. "They're not a one-year thing that may or may not happen. This looks to deliver value," she said, in remarks at the summit.

QSMOs are the Trump administration's contribution to the federal government's long running effort to shift federal agencies over to common services, according to Robert Shea, national managing principal, public policy at Grant Thornton and former associate director of the Office of Management and Budget.

"The Bush and Obama administrations had a more autocratic 'you will migrate to shared services'" approach, Shea said on the television program Government Matters on Sept. 17.

The QSMO effort, which looks to establish customer-focused marketplaces and standards for common federal services that are under continuous assessment for their effectiveness, is a "softer approach," he said.

"The government overall has improved its customer service culture and experience. That is a major factor driving shared services under the Trump administration," Shea said.