Shared Services Seminar Series

The Administration views shared services as a key tool for agency reform. The most common cause of underperformance typically occur in the area of governance: program and project management, requirements definition, execution oversight, and communications. Successful governance models involve collaborative partnerships between providers and customers and are characterized by shared understanding of vision, business objectives, performance incentives, roles, responsibilities and accountabilities.



Busting the Myths Surrounding a Powerful Tool for Agency Reform

The April 5th “Shared Services Myth Busting” workshop at the National Academy of Public Administration (NAPA) was an enormous success. The event was hosted in partnership with the Shared Services Leadership Coalition and the Senior Executives Association.

 

High level takeaways from the April 5th workshop include:

  1. Absence of the “voice of the customer” is a consistent failure in the implementation of shared services.   Most shared services experiences were top down, with little or no consideration of the needs of the ultimate consumers.
  2. Size matters.  Small agency needs (EEOC) are much different than large agency needs (DHS), but there is frequently no distinction made when implementing inter-agency shared services plans.
  3. Mission requirements come first.   Any shared services plans that negatively affect mission capabilities are a non-starter.  Examples include hiring highly technical talent at an S&T agency or impinging on DoD armed services HR functions.
  4. The different “flavors” of shared services are not known to consumers of shared services.  The three categories of shared services in the PMA were new to most participants and it is evident that an education effort is required.
  5. The PMA is seen as a positive way to implement shared services.  A long-term effort to implement shared services that is consistent with the goal of modernizing federal government processes was perceived as a good rationale for shared services.
  6. There are “quick wins” that could be accomplished in the very short term.  These included burn centers, shuttle services, etc. 

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Governance Innovation - Busting the Myths Surrounding a Powerful Tool for Agency Reform

The Administration views shared services as a key tool for agency reform. The most common cause of underperformance typically occur in the area of governance: program and project management, requirements definition, execution oversight, and communications.  Successful governance models involve collaborative partnerships between providers and customers and are characterized by shared understanding of vision, business objectives, performance incentives, roles, responsibilities and accountabilities. The event was hosted in partnership with the Shared Services Leadership Coalition and the Senior Executives Association.

Background

As government begins to consider the implications of the President’s Management Agenda, the second of a series of breakfasts on shared services was hosted on May 2, 2018, at NAPA’s offices. At a high level, the session covered a shared services governance structure focusing on the voice of the customer, case studies of successful shared services governance structures, the development of service standards for shared services, and a discussion about grant programs and shared services. Speakers included Lesley Field, Acting Administrator for Federal Procurement Policy in the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) and Shared Services Policy Officer, and Beth Angerman, Acting Deputy Associate Administrator of the Office of Governmentwide Policy in GSA and leader of the Shared Solutions and Performance Improvement Team. A panel discussion followed on how to leverage the voice of the customer that included three executives representing different roles in the government shared services journey: Jeff Koch, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Administration and Management at U.S. Department of Labor (DOL); Tom Muir, Director, Support Services at Department of Veterans Affairs; and Rhea Hubbard, Senior Policy Analyst at OMB and a leader in the grants CAP goal effort.

The Challenge

Ms. Field focused on the vision of the administration to put a shared services stake in the ground, recognizing that “this is a relay, not a sprint, and one that will take 10 years to complete, and will save an estimated $2 Billion.” Reviewing the cross-agency goals, she discussed the relationship between IT modernization, shifting from low value to high value work, and shared services as part of a holistic approach.

Ms. Angeman discussed the Sharing Quality Services Cross-Agency Priority (CAP) Goal and the governance plan for shared services. This a comprehensive and complicated structure that starts at OMB and the President’s Management Council, and drives down to agencies and vendors. There were several revealing ideas in her presentation. Agencies themselves can decide how to start shared services by implementing: i) Technology Contracts; ii) Implementation & Integration Support Contracts; and/or iii) Help Desk and Transaction Support Contracts.  There isn’t a mandate for agencies to adopt a prescribed shared service approach.  According to Beth, “One size doesn’t fit all,” and it is important to listen to the voice of the customer. The dynamic is to find the right balance between choice and scale. Beth added, “I really feel like the ground is shifting” in terms of acceptance of a shared services future.

Panelists brought their own experiences to the discussion, but focused on the voice of the customer. While the big ideas may come from the top, the ultimate responsibility and success hinges on the customer’s willingness to engage and transform. This is no easy task.

A Case Study in Shared Services

Jesse Samberg provided a case study in shared services from his time in New York City with the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA). Prior to implementing shared services, the MTA was comprised of seven agencies, each using its own basket of applications for benefits administration, payroll, timekeeping, etc. Post shared services, the MTA now uses one Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system, one document management system, and one customer relationship management system.  All using a single point of entry for all users.

What You Need to Know About the PMA

The President’s Management Agenda (“PMA”) describes three broad “Priority Goal” drivers of transformation:

  • Modern information technology must function as the backbone of how Government serves the public in the digital age.  Meeting customer expectations, keeping sensitive data and systems secure, and ensuring responsive, multi-channel access to services are all critical parts of the vision for modern Government. 
  • Data, accountability, and transparency initiatives must provide the tools to deliver visibly better results to the public, while improving accountability to taxpayers for sound fiscal stewardship and mission results.  Investments in policy, people, processes and platforms are key elements of this transformation and require cross-agency cooperation to ensure an integrated Data Strategy that encompasses all relevant governance, standards, infrastructure and commercialization challenges of operating in a data-driven world.
  • The Workforce for the 21st Century must enable senior leaders and front-line managers to align staff skills with evolving mission needs.  This will require more nimble and agile management of the workforce, including reskilling and redeploying existing workers to keep pace with the current pace of change.

The management agenda looks to these 3 “Priority Goals” to drive the overall change described in the PMA. There are a total of 14 CAP Goals including the above 3. Each goal identifies leaders who will be responsible for implementing the goals, and includes specific target objectives and dates.

These goals are not new to this administration, rather they have been considered as “top of stack” needs since the Clinton Administration put significant focus on them. However, this PMA has taken the effort to the next level by focusing in execution as well as ideas. In particular, there are 14 Cross Agency  Priority (“CAP”) goals that identify ways to achieve the transformation of government. “The President’s Management Agenda identifies Cross-Agency Priority (CAP) Goals to target those areas where multiple agencies must collaborate to effect change and report progress in a manner the public can easily track.” This idea is crucial to the

What is most interesting and important about the PMA is the way that these goals intersect with one another across agencies, functions, leadership and outcomes.  This is an enterprise view of the workings of government, and the PMA is a means toward finding enterprise solutions. 

Sharing Quality Services

One critical enterprise solution relates to the CAP Goal; Sharing Quality Service (“SQS”). Shared Services is the consolidation of technology, operations and/or people within the same organization, or across organizations. Shared services are cost-efficient because they standardize and centralize back-office operations, and eliminate redundancy. Along the road to considering many of the above goals, it is in the interest of the government as a whole, as well as individual agencies, to consider whether a shared service operation can facilitate various of the other goals.

The effort of the SQS goals is that “The Federal Government will establish a strategic government-wide framework for improving the effectiveness and efficiency of administrative services by 2020, leading to continual improvements in performance and operational cost savings of 20% annually at scale - or an estimated $2 billion over the next 10 years.”

One of the improvements upon previous shared services efforts is the inclusion of a Governance and Operating Model.  The Model has several levels of responsibility starting with the President’s Management Council (“PMC”) setting overall strategy, down to vendors providing services. 

Between policy makers and agencies sits a newly created Service Management Office (“SMO”), a “Federal storefront to the commercial service providers. Subject Matter Experts drive standardization, respond to user concerns, manage the creation of Federal unique micro-services, and manage the integration of commercial suppliers. Accountable for overall performance of service.”

The SQS model has several “flavors” of shared services; Technology Contracts; Implementation and Integration Support Contracts; and Help Desk and Transaction Support Contracts.  These common solutions deliver services to the Federal government that enable the SMO to scale, innovate, and help drive standardization and cost reductions in mission support functions.

Who is Ready to Move?

One of the interesting dynamics included in the SQS Cap Goal is a chart about satisfaction with the “quality of support and solutions I received from the (Human Capital/Financial Management/Contracting/Information Technology) during the last 12 months.” When you review the scores, you will notice that they are all in the 5 range on a scale of 1 to 7, or roughly a B- to B.  This says “I’m not in the excellent range, but it will be difficult to motivate me to change.” 

Based on these satisfaction polls, we need to focus on the coalition of the willing in order to build a shared services movement. Many of those who attended our breakfast series are in our corner.

Conclusion

A guiding principle of this process is “one size doesn’t fit all.” While there is an imperative to become more efficient by adopting a shared service model, agencies have the option of taking one or more of the above referenced “flavors”.  This is a critically important notion that recognizes the complexity of government technology, requirements, workforce, etc. Large agencies may be better served by building a shared service operation within, while smaller agencies would migrate to a Federal Shared Service Provider. In any event, so far that decision is being left to the agency.

                                                                                                                                                             

Download the Powerpoint  Shared Services and How a Strong Governance Process Works for Providers and Customers 

Fiscal Accountability and Shared Services

The President’s Management Agenda views shared services and solutions as key tools for agency reform.  Today, leading firms in the private sector use a full-service shared services model for financial management that is driving increasing efficiency gains through innovation and automation.  However, the Federal Government lags behind the private sector and experiences significant challenges when trying to replicate commercial best practices. 
 

Accomplished:  Discussed “Fiscal Accountability: Financial management shared services models, best practices, and challenges” with approximately 70 government and industry professionals.  Heard from 3 OCFO leaders on their shared services journeys from HUD, Depart of State, and Depart of Justice.  We propose recommendations to OMB that will enable agencies to accomplish administration priorities.

Summary Recommendations:

  • Expand number and use of common solutions and use of centralized services
  • Promote Best-practices through proven commercial innovation and tools

Recommendations to 5 Core Shared Solution Challenges (received from break-out group work):

  1. Old technology, outdated processes, and culture of compliance creating inflexible environment: 
  • There is resistance to new processes and ways of conducting business.  Recommend ample advanced notice and focused change management practices to increase success of adoption. 
  • Promote actions on movement from low to higher value business analysis skillsets
  • Create environment and systems that will attract Millennial and younger talent

 

  1. Enterprise-wide, there are duplicative back-office financial management services (contracts, people, and technology) at hundreds of locations
  • Promote Reimagine efforts across cabinet agencies on how to tackle inefficiencies.  Establish target goals and further internal standardization and consolidation efforts.
  • Promote internal agency efficiency through culture of employee upward feedback
  • Create a culture of sharing, best processes, and broader information sharing across agencies that will promote operational improvement

 

  1. There is “low” customer service satisfaction for back office administration activities
  • Providers of service should migrate to customer service orientation with SLA’s and feedback mechanisms like those used in commercial industry.
  • Recommend increased, real-time and transparent information sharing

 

  1. Commercial innovation has outpaced Federal capabilities
  • Expand use of public / private partnership models from industry to bring innovation
  • Some agencies finding the budget cycle and process restrictive to acquiring new innovation.  Recommend expanded use of multi-year funding and contracting and more flexible acquisition arrangements.
  • Make more R&D funding available to agencies

 

  1. Commercial vs. Government benchmarks are widening
  • Proceed with Federal / Industry benchmarking assessing gaps
  • Utilize tools like tight SLA’s and ability to decrease costs. 
  • Utilize right mix of public and private workforce and innovation automation to decrease gaps.

The event was hosted in partnership with the Shared Services Leadership Coalition and the Senior Executives Association.

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Innovation in Federal HR Service Delivery: How Emerging Technologies Can Transform an Organization

As government leaders begin to link talent management and organizational success, the combination of enabling technologies and shared services has quickly become a key component of any HR transformation. 
 
In the Federal arena, both HR professionals and their program counterparts find it difficult to recruit and retain employees. This is partly due to the sharp competition of resources but it is also due to complex work processes that characterize the Federal talent acquisition process. In response to these challenges, three trends in Federal HR are emerging. They include: Managed Services, Automation, and Software as a Service (SaaS).

HCMS Automation Powerpoint Whitepaper Presentation

The Acquisition of Federal Shared Services

As government leaders move out to fulfill agency mission goals, objectives, and adhere to new administration priorities, the ability to successfully acquire and operate with shared services will play a vital role for long-term success.

Within the Federal Government, successful acquisition of shared services requires the ability to overcome number of challenges that are often counter to traditional government acquisition contracting methods.

Our highly interactive, customer centric participation seminar discussed topics including key differences between centralized services and shared services, offered best practices in defining a contractor provided shared service delivery model, and provided updates related to the Section 809 acquisition reform.

 

Acquisition Challenges

The Future of Work: How emerging technology and innovation is shaping work, the workforce, and the workplace for Federal organizations

Federal organizations are changing the way they work. Through adoption of digital workforce capabilities, process robotics, cognitive technologies, crowdsourcing solutions, and other emerging technologies, the very nature of work is changing. These innovations will enable government work to become more impactful and productive, increase decision-making capability, and better support the overall well-being of the employee. This will have a profound impact on how Federal Organizations execute their missions and how Shared Services Organizations meet customer needs.

This is the sixth in a series of seminars exploring major challenges in the areas of human capital leadership, governance innovation, fiscal accountability, acquisition and emerging technologies as they relate to shared services. The objective of the series is to enhance the government’s understanding and execution of shared services as mission-enhancing value drivers in Agency Reform Plans.

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