Technology strengthens the federal government’s ability to deliver on its mission, but many agencies lack the resources and technology systems to properly serve citizens’ changing needs. The White House is on board with creating unified IT operating plans that center on the American people, giving them a government that understands who they are, what they need, and how best to deliver services to them efficiently, effectively and equitably.
In recent years, the federal government has prioritized IT modernization with the help of IT services, including the Information Technology Oversight and Reform Account (ITOR), the Technology Modernization Fund (TMF), and the Federal Citizen Services Fund (FCSF). These programs have been key in driving transformation across federal agencies, as they prioritize investing in the best IT tools and services.
Earlier this year, the federal government released a new Federal IT Operating Plan highlighting how government agencies can maximize available funding to advance cybersecurity, propel IT modernization, enhance digital-first customer experiences, and leverage data as a strategic asset. As agencies continue to modernize, they must bolster cybersecurity and data protection. They can do this by increasing the safety and security aspects of the delivery of public services, employing methods of continuous technology improvement, using design and technology to deliver an exceptional customer experience for citizens, and driving key insights by harnessing accurate, available and actionable data.
As agencies are breaking away from traditional operating models, they are embracing shared services models, as these models often provide more innovative solutions that scale with shifting mission priorities and budgetary requirements.
Agencies can tap shared services to help build a foundation for better delivery of services to citizens. Shared digital services, products, infrastructure and channels enable agencies to create streamlined, consistent customer experiences across government programs and services and enable them to benefit from economies of scale.
Traditionally, agencies have considered technology investments to be capital expenses (CapEx), categorized as one-time, long-term investments that create a benefit in the future. Many technology investments, like modern data systems, are often classified as CapEx. However, as technology becomes a more integral part of agency strategies, leaders should look to using operating expense (OpEx) funding for IT projects. OpEx represents the daily expenses of running agency operations, and, in many cases, technology should be considered an essential operating function. Agency leaders should consider moving technology investments from CapEx funding to OpEx, and shared services allow agencies to invest in OpEx solutions that flex and burst as needs change.
Why shift to shared services?
One of the many benefits of moving operations to a shared service model is gaining greater efficiencies for agencies. Shared services allow agencies to share resources for deployment, improvement and maintenance of essential services and programs — both public and agency-facing — as they meet the needs of multiple agencies while reducing duplication and increasing economies of scale.
Using a shared services model also empowers the success of agency technology missions. Shared services enable agencies to focus their efforts on mission-specific challenges and opportunities by providing them with the ongoing ability to develop and implement shared services, either from ideation or by scaling a new service.
Finally, agencies operating on shared service models can maintain strong, well-managed relationships with industry. Federal funding efforts help agencies take advantage of industry innovation without reinventing the wheel for existing technology and encourage industry partners to engage with the government to solve problems. Public-private collaboration is encouraged by ITOR, TMF, and FCSF for the most efficient digital services.
As agencies look to develop new models and practices, shared services allow them to sustain modernization to carry out the long tail of transformation. And with the recent emphasis on digital innovation in the public and private sectors, shared service models are attractive for their ability to flex for changing needs at scale and meet many different agency missions.
For shared services to succeed, they must be carefully procured, selected and implemented for long-term success. Agencies can thrive with mutually beneficial systems and continue to deliver on their core missions to improve services for citizens. By implementing the most personalized and scalable solutions, agencies can up-level their service offerings and more closely understand their citizens’ needs.
Mike Wiseman is vice president, Public Sector at Pure Storage.