OMB gives agencies four months to figure out shared services

Thursday - 5/3/2012, 5:49am EDT

Jason Miller, executive editor, Federal News Radio

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The Office of Management and Budget is re-invigorating the Lines of Business initiatives but with a bit of a twist.

OMB issued its Shared Services Strategy Wednesday detailing the steps over the next four months agencies must take to begin chipping away at more than $46 billion in duplicative IT investments. The plan focuses on commodity IT, such as email and storage, and emphasizes both governmentwide and intra-agency shared services.

The LOB initiative, started under the Bush administration, focused solely on governmentwide initiatives, such as human resources and financial management systems.

The end result would give agencies tools to innovate with less money, wrote Steven VanRoekel, the federal chief information officer, in a blog post.

"[The strategy] covers the entire spectrum of IT shared service opportunities throughout the federal government and promotes the use of existing and new strategic sourcing methods where agencies can combine their buying power for similar IT needs and get lower prices and improved service leverage in the process," VanRoekel wrote.

VanRoekel said the Shared Services Strategy builds upon the TechStat, recently announced PortfolioStat and the administration's Campaign to Cut Waste initiatives. VanRoekel released a draft strategy in December, asking agency and industry for comments.

"I'm very supportive of having a shared services strategy, but not because I need OMB telling me what I need to do because we've been talking internally about shared services for some time to gain efficiencies and administrative savings, but having OMB push in the same direction helps with momentum," said one agency CIO, who requested anonymity because they didn't receive permission from their agency to speak to the press. "I don't think shared services are new to the government, but the one thing that sets the current discussion apart from the previous shared service providers is while they did have IT systems security, and sort of basic back office functions, where the shared services strategy is going now is expanding beyond that. It's looking at more traditional IT services like data center or cloud or help desk."

The strategy sets a series of deadlines for agencies:

  • By Aug. 31 — Departments must submit an Enterprise Roadmap to OMB that includes the agency's commodity IT consolidation plan and LOB Service Plan. A part of this roadmap will be a list of IT assets agencywide to include all IT systems and services that support mission, administrative and commodity IT programs, using the Federal Enterprise Architecture Reference Model taxonomies provided in the common approach.

    Additionally, agencies have to give OMB a synopsis of the agencywide IT investment portfolio review conducted annually using the process described in the PortfolioStat memo issued in March.

    And finally, the LOB managing partners will prepare a "LOB Service Plan" that includes an assessment of each associated IT shared service area and a plan to improve quality and increase uptake in each area by the end of FY 2013. A high-level summary of alternatives is also to be included which incorporates legacy federal IT requirements and agency goals and/or guidance.

  • By Dec. 31 — Agencies must complete two OMB-approved IT shared service initiatives in 2012 and report status to OMB.

  • By April 1, 2013 and annually afterwards — Agencies must submit an updated Enterprise Roadmap to OMB.

"The Shared-First approach creates new opportunities for industry to provide shared IT services to agencies that are more agile in delivery and more responsive to a wide variety of evolving mission, support and commodity IT requirements," VanRoekel wrote. "The strategy recognizes the need for agencies to gain proficiency in managing or consuming shared IT services and therefore provides an initial focus on commodity IT consolidation opportunities, as called for in the August 2011 OMB memo to CIOs."

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