The General Services Administration wants to modernize the federal payroll process — possibly consolidating it — as a shared service on behalf of the rest of government.
GSA’s Unified Shared Services Management Office, in partnership with the Office of Personnel Management, issued a request for information Friday looking to industry for new solutions to improve “the execution and cost efficiency of Federal payroll management, with an emphasis on the calculation of individual gross and net pay,” according to the solicitation.
The larger problem lies in a lack of governmentwide standardization — that current payroll federal shared service providers use “separate, independently developed and maintained Human Resources (HR), Payroll, and Time & Attendance systems to calculate pay,” the RFI says. “Each SSP relies on multiple transactional systems, data sources, and interfaces to arrive at accurate gross and net pay. In addition, each SSP maintains its own methods and practices for maintaining and evolving these systems in response to emerging human capital and information technology requirements.”
There are currently five federal payroll providers — the Defense Finance and Accounting Service, the Agriculture Department’s National Finance Center, the Department of Interior’s Business Center, the Department of State and GSA’s Payroll Services Branch — that were established in 2000 by the ePayroll initiative. Combined they serve about 2.3 million federal employees nationally and process about 99 percent of the payroll for civilian feds.
Through the RFI, USSM is looking to evaluate “the costs and benefits of consolidation, competition, agility, flexibility, variation, etc.,” but it does not mean for certain it will result in a consolidation or singular replacement, it says. “The issuance of this RFI is not meant to imply there would or would not be a single product, platform, architecture, or provider recommended for Federal payroll. As with many common or government-wide solutions, the final approach may involve one or multiple technologies, delivery modalities, and providers.”
Additionally, the USSM office is seeking solutions that address specific federal payroll challenges, some in particular that deal with lingering technology issues like identity and access management, data management and validation, and the use of cloud technologies.
As it stands now, the “five SSPs maintain their payroll and related systems in separate physical and virtual environments” and each “employs different configurations of infrastructure and system architecture,” which prevents them from integrating and sharing resources or expertise, the RFI says.
“USSM is proud of its role in issuing this RFI with the federal payroll shared service providers. This kind of collaboration across the government shows our ability to achieve economies of scale and reduce duplicative investments,” Beth Angerman, executive director of USSM at GSA, said in a release.