Lorenze: The next management agenda

Here are 5 steps government must take to achieve greater efficiency, effectiveness and economy

The government’s perennial management reform agenda has invariably centered on the same three principles: efficiency, effectiveness and economy. The Clinton administration tackled government inefficiency with a National Performance Review, Hammer Awards and other efforts to measure government performance. The Bush administration has tried to address chronic management challenges with the President’s Management Agenda, which focuses on five major management reforms.

A common thread in each recent administration has been a belief in the power of information technology to achieve its reform agenda.

The federal enterprise architecture is a useful tool for evaluating and approving IT spending. That architecture, along with improved capital planning and investment controls, is now well established as a framework for managing IT investments governmentwide.

The shared services model, another favorite of the Bush administration, will undoubtedly gain momentum, too, once federal agencies unravel the mysteries of service-oriented architecture (SOA) systems and process integration.

The constraining issue moving forward is whether agencies have the skills and resources to perform the increasingly complex business analyses necessary to realize the SOA/process integration vision. Without new skills and additional resources, the government may not achieve the full promise of current technology to deliver government services more efficiently, effectively and economically.

Now is the time to address those constraints. With five steps, we can overcome them.

1. Federal agencies must adopt new business models that incorporate interagency operations and take advantage of shared services and other IT-enabled capabilities.

2. The shared services business model must support the federal enterprise architecture and a governmentwide capital planning and investment control process. The government must integrate the architecture’s compliance with its formulation and execution of the budget. It is not useful when the budget, the architecture and capital planning and investment control process operate independently of one another.

3. The shared services model must address financing issues. The government’s designated Centers of Excellence must pay for their infrastructure upfront and wait for clients to reimburse them over time. Lack of an adequate payment and financing mechanism is a huge constraint on the government’s success with initiatives such as the Office of Management and Budget’s lines of business. Reaching the optimal level of efficiency from shared services in the quickest possible time requires an upfront investment.

4. Federal systems must be designed to share information that supports cross-agency needs. Achieving a true SOA will necessitate converting older data into transportable formats. Security and IT controls, which have centered on accrediting single-purpose systems, must be redefined to support a shared services infrastructure. It would not be economically feasible to convert all older systems, but we need to write a road map to help us reach our information-sharing objectives.

5. The federal enterprise architecture must be updated with the necessary information to support shared-service opportunities.

The next two years are a critical transition period in which we should take full advantage of technology to achieve a lasting, constructive effect on government efficiency, effectiveness and economy.

Lorenze is a managing director at BearingPoint. He has 18 years of experience working with government agencies.

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