Shared Services

Does government need a FITARA for shared services?

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"The stars are aligned" for a bill that could codify the use of shared services across government, much like the Federal IT Acquisition Reform Act galvanized support for agency CIOs, said John Marshall, founder and CEO of the Shared Services Leadership Coalition, at an AGA leadership conference panel on Feb. 23.

Marshall said a shared services bill might find fertile ground on Capitol Hill this year. He said that with the Obama administration looking for legislative wins, and Congress looking to show the public it can agree and unite on something meaningful, such a bill could be possible.

Shared services, he said, have been a common idea in every presidential administration for the last quarter-century. What's differed has been each administration's approach. A law that sets up best practices and other common rules would speed implementation of the services across government, much like FITARA did for IT.

However, Matthew Miller, assistant commissioner of the Treasury Department's Bureau of the Fiscal Service, said the move to shared services must be based on an "adopt standard, improve standard" approach, under which service provider agencies adopt a uniform service model that customers then follow. Providers would in turn look to improve the service as time passes and capabilities change. Without that common approach, Miller said, much of the value of using shared services disappears.

With tight budgets and pressure to find ever greater efficiencies, shared services' time is right, said Elizabeth Angerman, executive director of the General Services Administration's Unified Shared Services Management organization.

Angerman said agencies must realize that just because they might be doing something well that's unrelated to their core mission, that doesn't mean they should necessarily continue to do it. "You can give it to someone else," she said, to free up resources for the mission.

About the Author

Mark Rockwell is a senior staff writer at FCW, whose beat focuses on acquisition, the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Energy.

Before joining FCW, Rockwell was Washington correspondent for Government Security News, where he covered all aspects of homeland security from IT to detection dogs and border security. Over the last 25 years in Washington as a reporter, editor and correspondent, he has covered an increasingly wide array of high-tech issues for publications like Communications Week, Internet Week, Fiber Optics News, tele.com magazine and Wireless Week.

Rockwell received a Jesse H. Neal Award for his work covering telecommunications issues, and is a graduate of James Madison University.

Click here for previous articles by Rockwell. Contact him at mrockwell@fcw.com or follow him on Twitter at @MRockwell4.


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