News and notes from around the federal IT community.
Shared services: Is mapping the next big thing?
Big-picture issues dominated much of the shared-services track at ACT-IAC's Executive Leadership Conference. Yet amid the discussions of why agencies are reluctant to share and how they can share mission-driven services, a more specific question emerged. As Paul Bartley, the Department of Health and Human Services' deputy assistant secretary for program support, put it, "What's the next payroll?"
He was referring to the fact that payroll operations, which at one time had been performed on scores of agency systems, are now handled almost entirely through four shared services, saving roughly $116 million annually.
Financial services are generally seen as the next big push. Agencies are now required to use one of four designated government providers or justify to the Office of Management and Budget why they can't. But ELC participants agreed that the best way for the government to get traction is to focus on particular services rather than simply encourage shared services as a general model.
"There have got to be some logical next candidates," Bartley said. "We need to identify them and help people learn what to focus on."
And what are those candidates? According to several participants, mapping should be the next service to aggressively share. "Why isn't there a single entity doing all the maps?" one audience member asked. "Wait, there is -- but nobody is using them."
Olga Brown-Leigh, a special assistant at the National Weather Service, agreed that a single authoritative source for mapping and geographic information systems could be "the next idea." And Interior Department Geospatial Information Officer Jerry Johnston, whose office is launching shared services, said strong interoperability standards, now-mature cloud computing resources and broad agency demand for geospatial capabilities are indeed combining to make mapping a compelling candidate.
Former Department of Homeland Security CIO Richard Spires, however, urged agencies not to overlook core computing resources as the next target. "They can be outsourced, [and] they should be outsourced," he said. "Nobody in Silicon Valley does their own compute functions."
Spires also argued that progress on any service would require clear leadership from the White House and OMB. "We need incentives to move," he said. "But there's also got to be a stick."
Page promoted at GSA
Kevin Youel Page was named deputy commissioner of the General Services Administration's Federal Acquisition Service. He will start his new duties Nov. 2
Page has served in multiple roles at GSA in the past three years, including deputy assistant commissioner for the Office of Integrated Technology Services and most recently as assistant commissioner of the Integrated Award Environment, where he helped create the Acquisition Gateway in the agency's developing Common Acquisition Platform.
In an Oct. 20 FAS-wide email, Commissioner Tom Sharpe said Karen Kopf, deputy assistant commissioner for IAE, will serve as acting assistant commissioner beginning Nov. 2.