In 2016, the federal government made 400 duplicative investments in administrative functions. These investments were made across government for similar, back-office systems that are complicated, redundant and costly.
Today, the government has more than 40 versions of the same travel software package, none of which can integrate or connect with each other. Another example of the widespread redundancy are the multiple payroll systems which exist across the government.
The result of this siloed approach is that American citizens are paying several times over for services that are outdated, which has led to antiquated systems plagued with duplication and fragmentation. This redundant, agency-specific approach has led to increased costs, reduced efficiencies and systems that don’t have modern capabilities. For example, the government operates more than 100 workforce systems, 40 financial management systems, and more than 1,900 contracts to support financial management.
And don’t forget, operating and maintaining these outdated systems is expensive. Equally frustrating, these expenses divert significant resources away from agency missions and dampen the government’s ability to deliver quality services to its ultimate customer — the American people.
This is why the administration is committed to enhancing and streamlining the government’s core administrative functions with modern solutions that are efficient, effective and a better investment of taxpayer dollars. Today, the Office of Management and Budget issued a memorandum entitled “Centralized Mission Support Capabilities for the Federal Government,” outlining a new approach to government-wide shared services. This common sense proposal will help federal agencies more effectively use new, modern approaches and government-wide solutions to complete mission-specific work.
Several shared services already exist within the framework of our government, providing better services with significant cost savings. For example, federal employees across the country use vehicles for everyday work. The U.S. General Services Administration saw the potential to cut down on maintenance and fleet management costs by operating a centralized fleet for other agencies instead of each agency running its own fleet program. Today, GSA manages more than 200,000 government vehicles for other agencies. This shared solution delivers more than $350 million in savings for taxpayers every year.
The Shared Services Strategy is a key initiative in the President’s Management Agenda which focuses on three key areas. First, the model works to expand current shared services that are successful. Second, the strategy identifies new opportunities where shared services can benefit agencies and taxpayers. Lastly, the initiative selects lead agencies to be change agents and advocates for service modernization. Agency leaders will work with the private sector to identify and offer modern solutions that drive efficiencies and lead to better stewardship of taxpayer resources.
While the Administration continues to celebrate early shared service wins, like fleet management, this enhanced strategy empowers each agency to identify service improvement and cost saving opportunities that can be applied across the federal enterprise. That is where the big wins will be found. Successful businesses regularly identify and address areas to improve their services. Government should do the same.
Transforming how government does business will take time, and commitment, from partners inside and outside of government. It’s a large task, but this administration is committed to evolving how the federal government invests in and delivers modern solutions to the American people.
Suzette Kent is the Federal Chief Information Officer and Emily Murphy is the Administrator of the General Services Administration.