OMB names four new shared service providers

Tuesday - 1/13/2009, 7:49am EST

By Jason Miller
Executive Editor
FederalNewsRadio

The Bush administration has added one more piece to its e-government legacy.

The Office of Management and Budget Monday named four shared service providers under the Information Security Line of Business initiative. The departments of Treasury Bureau of Public debt, Interior's National Business Center, Transportation's Federal Aviation Administration's Enterprise Service Center and Justice received approval to provide other agencies certification and accreditation (C&A) services.

The centers will provide tools to help agencies complete their IT security certification and accreditation, which means they will help agencies analyze risk, develop steps to mitigate risks and ensure there are internal controls to verify the mitigation.

These four agencies bring the number of back-office functions that now have shared services centers to seven-payroll, human resources, financial management, grants management and security-Federal Information Security Management Act (FISMA) reporting and FISMA training.

"What the shared service centers do is help with the certification and accreditation processes," says Karen Evans, OMB's administrator for e-government and information technology. "They have gotten down the cost and are effective in putting the documents together."

Evans announced the four centers at a press briefing where OMB also released three other reports.

The other reports included the quarterly progress on how agencies are implementing Homeland Security Presidential Directive-12, the Congressionally mandated e-government benefits report and the Chief Information Officer Council's transition guide.

Evans says all these reports show that the next administration has a solid foundation to build from.

"My discussions have been that they want to build on what's already there," she says. "Hopefully they will avoid some of the mistakes we've made in the past. I would take a hard look at customer satisfaction data because it mirrors opportunities for improvements."

TRANSITION PLAN

The CIO Council's transition plan provides some of those areas. Dave Wennergren, vice chairman of the council and Defense Department deputy CIO, says the transition guide gives new political appointees a primer on the council, how it works and what it has focused on over the past eight years.

It also looks toward the future and where there are opportunities.

"Tapping into the power of the citizenry is the theme of the document," he says.

The council details seven areas the next administration should focus on, including secure information sharing, IT security, workforce and environmental responsibility.

Web 2.0 also plays a big role in the transition guide. The council is calling for more internal and external transparency through the use of social networking tools.

Wennergren says the council has presented the transition guide to the Obama transition team and they responded well to the ideas and opportunities.

One of those opportunities is with the certification and accreditation process. Former federal officials have complained for years that the C&A process is static and doesn't let agencies understand the changing nature of threats against their systems.

OMB and the National Institute of Standards and Technology have updated the FISMA requirements, tried to standardize the data and pushed agencies to focus on risk mitigation.

By approving the shared service centers, OMB is letting qualified federal entities compete with the private sector and improving the standardization of C&A.

"We want agencies to do an analysis of who can provide the best services," Evans says. "The big thing is to try to make the best use of best practices."

WINNING BIDS

The four agencies won approval based on them meeting eight criteria, including the technical understanding of the C&A process, the ability to provide customer support and how well they conform to NIST FISMA standards.

Agencies wanting to buy these services will go through a typical procurement process.

"Agencies will evaluate the capabilities and use one of the shared service providers unless they show a business reason why they wouldn't," Evans says. "We are trying to make sure agencies are taking a concerted approach."

OMB also issued the HSPD-12 quarterly report.

The administration found that agency and contractor employees received 188,000 more cards since Oct. 27. In all, the number of federal and contractor employees with secure identification cards increased to 1.7 million out of more than 5 million that need it, or 31 percent overall. This is up from 28 percent in October.

The final report OMB issued is the e-government benefits and results report. Evans says the report is the notification to Congress on how much money agencies will spend, and which agencies will spend what on e-government projects in 2009.

OMB expects agencies to spend more than $138 million on e-government initiatives. That is down from $161 million in 2008.

The report also details agencies success in meeting the administration's e-government goals.

For instance, OMB says 87 percent of all e-government project milestones were met in 2008, up from 81 percent the year before. Agencies also certified and accredited 94 percent of all their systems, up from 92 percent in 2007.

"The report discusses the current state of IT portfolio management and opportunities for improvements as the next administration comes in," Evans says. "It looks across the board at specific areas and provides metrics, milestones and where improved and where we still need to."

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