Playbook for governmentwide shared services coming from GSA

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The General Services Administration plans to release a shared services playbook in June, educating agencies about how they can best consolidate governmentwide back-office functions, a GSA official said Tuesday.

Beth Angerman, executive director of the Unified Shared Services Management team at GSA, told the 2016 eSignature Summit for Digital Government, presented by eSignLive by VASCO, that the playbook would serve as a tool to make agencies better customers of shared services and give them a set of best practices for implementation. 

“When I say playbook, I don’t mean ‘Hey, you should do a resource plan.’ I mean ‘You should do a resource plan and this is what the resource plan needs to entail. And your resource plan needs to include things like what it means to plan to implement, and what your organization is actually going to look like post-implementation’ — to have that vision and then connect the dots,” Angerman said.

The Unified Shared Services Management team was launched at GSA in October, in partnership with the Office of Management and Budget, to establish a governmentwide strategy and governance model to drive shared services. These are administrative functions, like HR, IT services and accounting, that are performed by one agency for others so they can focus more on mission-oriented outcomes. 

For instance, 99 percent of payroll functions in the federal government are performed by four agencies.

“Our new ecosystem of shared services is working to change expectations of agencies and help them focus on outcomes instead of these legacy processes — focus on data instead of transactions, technology instead of paper,” Angerman told the summit, produced by FedScoop.

The new playbook, and the ecosystem as a whole, will in essence look to address a predicament of inadequate service supply for an unclear demand. Typically, shared services providers are faced with offering services “without understanding the demand — without looking at where agencies are in the lifecycle of their current systems,” she said. 

But of course this is tough, Angerman explained, because behind the sexy mission functions and innovative programs getting attention from congressional appropriators are the commonplace, back-office functions that comprise share services and struggle for a cut of the budget.

“Less money is being earmarked for all of the functions we’re responsible for,” she said. “The problem is that some of the biggest challenges the government faces depend on these functions — the need for better data for better decision-making; the need to hire capable and qualified resources. All of those depend on your financial and your HR capabilities in your organizations, which is why this initiative becomes so important to being able to deliver on mission.”

That’s where the Unified Shared Services Management team comes in. It’s focused on “creating a supply that is scalable,” Angerman said — “creating a marketplace that has the opportunities for industry and federal agencies to work together to find the right solutions.” 

She added: “We have to better align our demand and our supply so that we can build a supply that can actually scale.” 

And with a playbook that points agencies to the ways to embrace share services and be more transparent about their needs, it “makes it easier to introduce innovation” and “move government away from customization,” she said. 

“We can look at common processes and we can create an actual continuous improvement process where we can always be looking at how to reform and how to transform some of the ways we do business and deliver these common outcomes.”  

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Agencies, Beth Angerman, General Services Administration, Government IT News, shared services
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