GSA Selects OPM for Third Centers of Excellence

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Under the program, OPM will work with industry to modernize its IT infrastructure and improve the government’s tech workforce planning.

The General Services Administration on Friday announced the Office of Personnel Management will be the third agency to participate in the Centers of Excellence program, a White House initiative aimed at overhauling the government’s outdated tech.

The program, which launched in late 2017, brings together leaders from government and industry to assess issues in key facets of a given agency’s IT infrastructure and stand up solutions to fix them. The effort is intended to both bolster agencies’ existing systems and make it easier for them to adopt new technologies in the years ahead.

At OPM, officials will use the program to drive improvements in four main areas: IT workforce planning, IT planning and governance, mainframe and disaster recovery planning, and retirement services technology portfolio. 

“The time to address structural changes at OPM is now, and GSA is helping us meet the needs of the federal workforce,” OPM Acting Director Margaret Weichert said in a statement. “Aging IT infrastructure at OPM has put the agency in an unsustainable position and hurt OPM’s critical human capital mission. By partnering with GSA ... we are taking steps toward long-overdue transformation in OPM’s IT infrastructure and operations.”

In phase one of the program, OPM and GSA officials will work with industry to identify issues in those four categories and figure out the best way to address them. In phase two, officials will recruit another batch of vendors to implement those solutions.

Though no agencies have completed the full program, the Centers of Excellence initiative has had some early success at its first two sites, the Agriculture and Housing and Urban Development departments. Agriculture officials said they realized some $26 million in cost avoidance and savings during the first phase of the program, and the department is currently working with a dozen companies to stand up new IT solutions. On Friday, HUD began recruiting vendors to put its proposed IT fixes into practice.  

“GSA is proud of the success that has been demonstrated by our Centers of Excellence initiative at both USDA and HUD,” GSA Administrator Emily Murphy said in a statement. “We are excited to begin the CoE discovery phase with OPM and leverage the expertise of our GSA IT team as we work with OPM to modernize their IT capabilities.”

The announcement comes as the Trump administration finalizes plans to merge OPM into a yet-unnamed office within GSA. After ceding its security clearance operations to the Pentagon, officials said OPM lacks the revenue and technological capabilities to handle its duties on its own.