Federal CIO Steven VanRoekel first floated the idea of making broader use of shared services in October 2011, shortly after stepping into the job, then he formally unveiled a shared services strategy last May. The idea is to replace agency-specific IT resources with services that can be shared across departments and agencies, with an eye toward increased efficiency and cost savings.
The new Federal Shared Services Implementation Guide identifies goals for federal IT teams as they move ahead, including improving return on investment and boosting productivity through use of innovative services and integrated governance processes.
[ The government needs to take transparency more seriously. Read The Freedom From Information Act. ]
The guide outlines seven steps in shared services adoption. They are: assess internal functions and services; identify shared service providers; analyze legacy services; make shared-service decisions; identify funding; negotiate agreements and service levels; and maintain these operations after deployment.
The CIO Council has launched an online shared-services catalog, called Uncle Sam's List, where services are listed in three categories: commodity IT, support services, and mission services. Commodity IT consists of IT infrastructure, which is asset-oriented, and enterprise IT services, which is utility- or usage-oriented. Support services include budgeting, financial, human resources, and property and acquisition management. Mission services address core governmental functions, such as disaster response, national defense and food safety. Access to the online catalog requires registration and a password.
The report points out that cost savings are a significant driver of shared services adoption, but not the only one. Other benefits include improved quality of service, resources redirected to an agency's primary mission, more efficient processes and new functionality.
The CIO Council advises managers charged with implementing shared services of the importance of getting executive buy-in. Without that commitment, identifying the areas to be migrated to shared services and implementing the organizational changes required to succeed "will be prohibitively difficult," according to the report.
A well-defended perimeter is only half the battle in securing the government's IT environments. Agencies must also protect their most valuable data. Also in the new, all-digital Secure The Data Center issue of InformationWeek Government: The White House's gun control efforts are at risk of failure because the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives' outdated Firearms Tracing System is in need of an upgrade. (Free registration required.)