Shared Services

GSA takes the long view on shared services

business management (Alexander Supertramp/ 

The General Services Administration is taking the long view on shared services, using the transition model of its big next-generation telecommunications contract as a guide, GSA's top manager said on May 15.

Agency administrator Emily Murphy said a gradual move to shared services will take a concerted, collaborative effort between government and commercial providers.

"We're looking to buy commercial where appropriate," Murphy said in remarks at the Coalition for Government Procurement's Spring conference. The overall move "is not about public versus private" solutions, she said, but ultimately about saving the federal government money and creating efficiencies.

The process starts with the agency's Unified Shared Services Management Office identifying requirements and obtaining consensus on those requirements from agencies. Those requirements will be turned over to a service management office inside GSA or another agency to put together a solution, Murphy explained.

"If it's a contracting solution, we want to make sure there are at least three contracting vehicles available," she said. "We want to make sure there is opportunity and competition."

The shared services development process, Murphy said, will place emphasis on developing efficiencies and saving money not necessarily on speed.

"This isn't an overnight solution," she added. "It's a 10 year process."

Up next, Murphy said, is a solicitation for a software-as-a-service payroll offering. That request for proposals is coming by the end of May.

GSA and the Office of Management and Budget are currently putting together a checklist for agencies to gauge how prepared they are to transition to a new payroll system, she said. Payroll and other financial services currently are offered through shared services from other agencies.

"Rather than saying 'we have a new contract and everyone move,'" Murphy said, transition to shared services such as payroll is "a quarter-by-quarter, month-by-month" process.

GSA is also looking at the transition model it developed for its massive next-generation Enterprise Infrastructure Solutions telecommunications contract as a guide to transition to shared services.

The EIS plan allows the agency to retain a portion of fees to pay for the transition. "We could do that so next few years, one transition [to a shared service] will have the ability to pay for the next," she said.

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, 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 or follow him on Twitter at @MRockwell4.


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