The pros and cons of shared services

Agencies providing common services bring a lot of benefits, but a few changes too.

Anne Rung

GSA wants to ease out of offering shared HR services, says Anne Rung.

The Department of Homeland Security is about to unveil another shared service for federal users.

DHS's "Carwash" service is essentially a security scrub that will accelerate mobile applications development for other federal agencies, said Keith Trippie, executive director of the department’s enterprise system development office.

The application, which he said would become available in October, will check mobile apps' code, insure they meet standards for accessible use and will let app developers know about vulnerabilities that come to light as the app is used, allowing faster corrections of those weaknesses. The service will be offered at no charge for an initial 90 days, said Trippie. The agency is currently working out a pricing plan.

Trippie spoke as part of a panel at a shared-services forum in Washington, D.C., on Sept 12. The event illustrated the economic push and pull that shared services exert on federal agencies.

The forum, convened by the American Council for Technology/Industry Advisory Council, hosted a long list of speakers from federal agency shared services providers and suppliers who supplied economic and practical insight.

Anne Rung, associate administrator at GSA's Office of Governmentwide Policy, said her agency is moving away from offering shared human-resources services, having determined such services are not really among its core strengths. The agency will put more emphasis on acquisition, real estate and IT technology, said Rung.

GSA issued a formal request for information on Sept. 12 asking for advice on how to withdraw from HR. HR services provided by GSA, according to the agency's web site, include personnel management, personnel action processing, benefits and retirement services, training and education solution, specialized support for small agencies and financial management solutions. Rung told FCW that a time line for the withdrawal hasn't been finalized.

GSA's focus on a tighter core of shared services offerings and DHS's planned roll out was evidence of what federal CIOs and managers say is a continual interplay of economic and technological forces driving shared services.

A panel of federal agency leaders who have used shared services successfully to cut costs and increase efficiency, shed some light on why shared services can be a mixed blessing.

Tight financial times, said David Fisher, chief risk officer and senior advisor to the commissioner at the Internal Revenue Service, make sharing services more attractive for federal agencies pushed to find less expensive and more efficient ways of doing things. "Shared services are the key to survival," said Doug Nash, CIO at the Forest Service. "We used to do everything ourselves, including IT."

That changed, however. The agency began outsourcing its help desk after finding it unwieldy, he said, adding that he would rather focus on his agency's core duties than tinker with the intricacies of things like network management.

Fisher, who served as the chief administrative officer and chief financial officer of the Government Accountability Office until last May, said federal agencies have to be aware of some of the subtle challenges shared services can bring. Cloud-based shared services, he said, can change acquisition, shifting emphasis from capital expenditures on gear and networks to a longer view as agencies look for more efficiencies from streamlined IT operations.

"Procurement organizations may be struggling. It's a different kind of buy," said Fisher. "The payout is longer."

X
This website uses cookies to enhance user experience and to analyze performance and traffic on our website. We also share information about your use of our site with our social media, advertising and analytics partners. Learn More / Do Not Sell My Personal Information
Accept Cookies
X
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Do Not Sell My Personal Information

When you visit our website, we store cookies on your browser to collect information. The information collected might relate to you, your preferences or your device, and is mostly used to make the site work as you expect it to and to provide a more personalized web experience. However, you can choose not to allow certain types of cookies, which may impact your experience of the site and the services we are able to offer. Click on the different category headings to find out more and change our default settings according to your preference. You cannot opt-out of our First Party Strictly Necessary Cookies as they are deployed in order to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting the cookie banner and remembering your settings, to log into your account, to redirect you when you log out, etc.). For more information about the First and Third Party Cookies used please follow this link.

Allow All Cookies

Manage Consent Preferences

Strictly Necessary Cookies - Always Active

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data, Targeting & Social Media Cookies

Under the California Consumer Privacy Act, you have the right to opt-out of the sale of your personal information to third parties. These cookies collect information for analytics and to personalize your experience with targeted ads. You may exercise your right to opt out of the sale of personal information by using this toggle switch. If you opt out we will not be able to offer you personalised ads and will not hand over your personal information to any third parties. Additionally, you may contact our legal department for further clarification about your rights as a California consumer by using this Exercise My Rights link

If you have enabled privacy controls on your browser (such as a plugin), we have to take that as a valid request to opt-out. Therefore we would not be able to track your activity through the web. This may affect our ability to personalize ads according to your preferences.

Targeting cookies may be set through our site by our advertising partners. They may be used by those companies to build a profile of your interests and show you relevant adverts on other sites. They do not store directly personal information, but are based on uniquely identifying your browser and internet device. If you do not allow these cookies, you will experience less targeted advertising.

Social media cookies are set by a range of social media services that we have added to the site to enable you to share our content with your friends and networks. They are capable of tracking your browser across other sites and building up a profile of your interests. This may impact the content and messages you see on other websites you visit. If you do not allow these cookies you may not be able to use or see these sharing tools.

If you want to opt out of all of our lead reports and lists, please submit a privacy request at our Do Not Sell page.

Save Settings
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Cookie List

A cookie is a small piece of data (text file) that a website – when visited by a user – asks your browser to store on your device in order to remember information about you, such as your language preference or login information. Those cookies are set by us and called first-party cookies. We also use third-party cookies – which are cookies from a domain different than the domain of the website you are visiting – for our advertising and marketing efforts. More specifically, we use cookies and other tracking technologies for the following purposes:

Strictly Necessary Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Functional Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Performance Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Social Media Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Targeting Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.