Year Ahead

Scott Quehl: Sharing services at scale

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Strategy and efficiency are terms not often tied together, but times change. Budget pressures now are permanent, forcing government agencies to rethink day-to-day activities and long-term goals. Technology will thread throughout government performance to help address this new reality, virtually reaching across agencies and to customers to transform service delivery.

This is the year when shared services become essential. Managing customer cases collaboratively beyond agency boundaries simply offers more. The success of BusinessUSA, where the Internet connects companies to more than 1,000 programs and information sources at nine agencies, suggests digital government’s promise.

Paying for those changes will increasingly come from C-suite leaders rethinking existing budgets. Will $25 million in savings from consolidating 200 personal computer contracts be considered a technology initiative? An acquisition initiative? A budget initiative? Or a human resource initiative if savings ease furlough pressures and fund tools to make the most of employee talents? All of the above.

There will also be funding from private partners ready to risk capital to share in savings. Imagine an agency with multiple, antiquated email platforms. The CIO, with the support of agency leaders and the financial and acquisition community, could lead a single cloud-based email implementation across the enterprise. Efficiencies would fund only half the migration, and the cloud provider would fund the balance, recovering its investment only when it meets service, security, savings and other requirements. A federal team would be equipped to monitor the provider and take action if performance falls short.

That will happen at a scale that makes a difference as agency leaders pull together and a thoughtful approach to sharing in savings is applied.

About the Author

Scott Quehl is a senior principal at Accenture Federal Services and a former chief financial officer at the Department of Commerce.

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