Shared Services in government is nothing new. The idea began in the 1980s with the consolidation of payroll and some other administrative functions. In the '90s the focus was on creating entities that could provide common business functions across government and, in that effort, become a cost center.
The 2000s saw the rise of the term 'Line of Business' that looked at common business functions across government to identify opportunities to transform, streamline and share. The Obama Administration looked specifically to IT as a shared service, releasing the Federal IT Shared Services Strategy that provided federal agency chief information officers and key stakeholders guidance. This guidance focused on the implementation of shared IT services as a key principle of their efforts to eliminate waste and duplication, with the intention to reinvest in innovative mission systems.
Most recently, the Trump Administration issued a new policy that created a system for assessing which agency functions--such as payroll or cybersecurity--have consistent standards across government and which specific departments would be best positioned to act as leaders in those areas.
To support this effort, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) designated a single agency as the Quality Service Management Office (QSMO) to manage that function area from end-to-end. The four shared services and their agencies defined as part of this plan are:
- Human Resources Transactions - General Services Administration
- Financial Management - Treasury Department
- Grants Management - Health and Human Services Department
- Cybersecurity - Homeland Security Department
Through all of the different shared services pushes, the aim of creating more efficient business processes has remained the same. Unfortunately, the challenges to get there have also remained. These include clearly defining and allocating funding, leadership, and standards.
To stay up to date on the current shared services push and what's next under the Biden Administration, there are several events and resources worth checking out.
- Customer Experience Conference @930gov (May 6, 2021; virtual) -- This event will explore the policies, applications, and technologies involved with improving customer and employee experience with the ultimate goal of improving citizen services.
- Stronger Together: State and Local Cybersecurity Collaboration (white paper) -- This publication outlines promising programs that states have initiated to enhance collaboration with their local government counterparts for cyber resilience. It also provides high-level recommendations for state officials looking to strengthen partnerships with local government officials on cybersecurity.
- IT Consolidation - What's Next for Government and Education Modernization Initiatives? (white paper) -- Organizations that have already made significant IT consolidation progress are experiencing lower costs, more efficiency, greater availability, and enhanced security. These organizations are also experiencing greater effectiveness in managing data. Cloud services, for example, can provide elastic computing, shared storage, and shared services, which combine to help scale computing power and resources without scaling personnel.