Shared Services

Agencies should look to industry for scaling shared services

Beth Angerman. Official photograph.

GSA's Beth Angerman said a standard approach to common activities is essential for wider adoption of shared services.

To expand the government's use of shared services, agencies should look to the private sector, said Beth Angerman, executive director of the General Services Administration's Unified Shared Services Management office.

USSM sees an opportunity to "more tightly partner industry with government to be able to scale," she said, which would allow USSM to "share the risk differently than the way that we have structured shared services today."

Adapting industry practices would also help agencies stay current with technology developments, she said during an interview with Government Matters, adding that many agencies have struggled in that regard.

Angerman said her hope is to accelerate technical solutions that would give the "government access to technology that we see available in the commercial storefront." In the past, the federal government "really hasn't been able to allow that technology into our space."

Once a bridge between government and industry has been built, Angerman said, it would provide "better efficiency and a better process…which as a result will hopefully bring a value proposition to both the government and the taxpayer."

She emphasized the need for "getting the government to agree on some standards in the way that we do…common things" in human resources, procurement and travel management. "Every agency pays people," she said. "Every agency hires people. Every agency manages people. Every agency buys things."

In addition, "if we could agree on some standards on how we actually do those processes, that will allow us to bring that technology in," reduce manual processing and improve the government’s performance, she said.

As an acknowledgment of the ongoing effort to implement shared services, Angerman's USSM team was a finalist for a 2017 Service to America Medal in the Management Excellence category, awarded by the Partnership for Public Service. The winners will be announced in September.

"I think there's a real recognition that government will never be a business," Angerman said. Yet "we have real challenges in government, [and] we need to figure out how we can leverage those best practices and make them work."

About the Author

Ben Berliner is an editorial fellow at FCW. He is a 2017 graduate of Kenyon College, and has interned at the Center for Responsive Politics and at Sunlight Foundation.

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