Federal shared services takes hold through Uncle Sam's List

Thursday - 8/1/2013, 7:30pm EDT

Lisa Schlosser, deputy federal CIO

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Uncle Sam's list is up and running, and is one example of how shared services is taking hold across government.

Lisa Schlosser, the federal government's deputy chief information officer, said the website lists more than 100 shared services and more are on the way.

"As we continue to communicate and as new shared services evolve, we will continue to update the clearinghouse and share the information across the agencies," she said. "We're still looking at the initiatives. It's still in the pilot stage right now. We are populating it. It continues to evolve."

The Office of Management and Budget called for the creation of Uncle Sam's list as part of its shared services implementation guide released in April.

Uncle Sam's List is an internal community within the MAX.gov collaboration site that is maintained by the CIO Council's Shared Services subcommittee.

The list provides information on IT shared service areas, providers and related existing contract vehicles.

The fact that in a few short months agencies are populating the site with shared services shows the impact of OMB's strategy, which it released in May 2012.

"We are seeing a lot of movement in shared services. It's being driven by both the strategy that was established under this administration and the continuation of PortfolioStat sessions," Schlosser said. "As you know PortoflioStat is focused on identifying areas of duplication both within the agency and across the federal government. So as we see opportunities for new shared services through PortfolioStat and other means, we surface those and determine how we want to go forward."

OMB also established the Shared Services Executive Council of all the providers. She said the group shares best practices and discuss where the value of shared services is coming from.

"For now, the shared services providers are providing on a periodic basis mostly to share practices, to determine how they can move forward with the best customer service metrics and approaches, and that group will continue to evolve to look at other aspects of shared services," Schlosser said.

She added the broader definition of shared services is helping agencies get their arms around the concept better. OMB is encouraging agencies not just to look at the shared service providers for human resources or financial management, but look at consolidating systems or contracts internally too.

One example is the Commerce Department, which reduced the number of contracts to buy computers.

The agency said it's paying 35 percent less for desktop computers than it did previously, and is saving more than $200 million on administrative costs more broadly.

"We are looking for opportunities particularly in strategic sourcing so you see agencies looking at areas like consolidation of mobile contracts or consolidation of acquisition vehicles," Schlosser said. "But you also are seeing through initiatives such as FedRAMP. Agencies are starting to take advantage of government-wide opportunities to take advantage of work that is done once and able to be used more cost effectively and efficiently by other agencies."

Agencies are finding those opportunities in two ways.

Schlosser said PortfolioStat continues to bring the CXO community together to prioritize opportunities.

Secondly, agencies submitted to OMB an enterprise roadmap earlier this year as required under the May 2012 strategy.

"We are in the process of evaluating the enterprise roadmaps and incorporating the results of that evaluation as part of the PortfolioStat processes," Schlosser said. "So ,what the architectures were intended to do was link the business and the technology to ensure all of our technology solutions meet the mission and the business requirements. It also is to identify areas of waste and duplication where consolidation or shared services might be possible."

Federal CIO Steve VanRoekel said he's conducted nine PortoflioStat sessions in the past few weeks, and more are on the way for this fall.

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