One of the biggest obstacles to making any substantive changes in Washington, D.C. is consistency. Different administrations have different priorities, and often four years isn’t enough time to get the wheels of bureaucracy, which grind slow but fine, to turn enough to affect significant change. There are, of course, some exceptions. Shared services is one of those.
“The shared services initiatives really began during the first term of the George W. Bush administration, via the Lines of Business initiative,” said Renee Courtland, director of program development for acquisition services at YRCI. “It continued as the Shared Services Initiative in the Obama administration and the creation of the Unified Shared Service Management Office (now OSSPI) at the General Services Administration. The Trump administration has continued via the Cross Agency Priority (CAP) goal of Sharing Quality Services. Regardless of who sits in the White House, it is clear that the federal government will continue the march towards industry-powered shared services for mission support and eventually for niche service support that crosses multiple agencies.”
The shared services CAP goal is number five out of 14 included in the President’s Management Agenda, released by the Office of Management and Budget in 2018. Later, in April 2019, OMB outlined an updated approach with memo 19-16, which attempts to build off of successes of the past, recognize well-known potholes that have stymied initiatives over the last 20 years, and, maybe most importantly, attempts to place the control of the planned changes in the hands of all agencies.
The memo details the new operating model that is focused on four agencies leading the respective efforts as Quality Services Management Offices (QSMOs). The organizations will establish the governance and accountability model that includes oversight boards and standards councils as well as customer agency officials.
“This operating model will ensure the best possible customer experience and expectations are met. If this workforce is aligned and explicit about its intent to operate in this collaborative way, trust will continue to outweigh the previous challenges of delivering such services to federal managers,” Hans Jaeger, chief client development officer at YRCI, said.
But the government isn’t alone in trying to modernize the way agencies deliver services. Good government groups like the Shared Services Leadership Coalition (SSLC) and the American Council for Technology and Industry Advisory Council (ACT-IAC) have been instrumental in helping federal agencies achieve their shared services goals.
For example, in 2018, SSLC, along with the National Academy of Public Administration and the Senior Executives Association, published a report that made eight recommendations for how the Trump administration can find more success moving to shared services and avoid the potholes the previous five administrations have fallen into. SSLC also works with other organizations to host shared services forums, monthly problem-solving workshops in which government executives who are leading shared services initiatives in their agencies bring their toughest challenges to the table for real-time coaching.
“YRCI is proud of our contributions to the government-industry collaboration around shared services,” Jaeger, who also serves on the board of directors for SSLC, said. “It allows us to share the subject matter expertise of our SMEs as well as our corporate leads who designed and oversee our own internal shared services delivery center for HR, Acquisition and Records management.”
In addition, Courtland is the Shared Services Working Group Chair for ACT-IAC and is leading a multi-association research project on the workforce impact of shared services.
“I graduated college seeking to work and make a positive impact on government operations and ended up serving in roles at GSA and OMB that gave me an opportunity to do just that,” Courtland said. “I feel fortunate to be able to continue that mission here at YRCI both internally as I contribute recommendations for various tools and techniques increasing output and customer satisfaction and externally through thought leadership in the various associations and forums YRCI supports.”
YRCI is ahead of the game in aligning itself with federal shared services initiatives, having established a Human Resources Remote Operations Center (HRROC™) at their headquarters in Fairfax, Virginia. That positions them to support federal agencies with an HR shared services operation ahead of the Office of Personnel Management’s completion of the HR Federal Integrated Business Framework, which documents business needs across agencies with a focus on data and outcomes. According to the December 2019 update on the Shared Services Action Plan, OPM should be completing that in Q1 of 2020.
In addition to the HRROC™, YRCI re-skills and upskills the federal workforce through YRCI University (YRCI U). The program helps YRCI grow its own talent pool of properly trained federal HR employees, merging adult learning with on-the-job training and providing clear individual development plans. According to Jaeger, YRCI U addresses an expertise shortage in the Federal HR market, as Baby Boomers continue to retire and leave the workforce.