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How can your agency take advantage of shared services?
The use of federal shared service providers (FSSPs) in the United States promises to bring substantial benefits to federal agencies and the federal government as a whole. Those benefits, including flexibility, transparency and a reduction of administrative burden, can significantly improve government efficiency—a top priority for federal leaders. The key to achieving these benefits, however, is widespread adoption. While the government can issue policy and mandates, it is the agency leaders who will help the shared services vision become reality.
Accenture Federal Services wanted to gain a better understanding of the factors driving FSSP adoption and help federal agencies develop an effective approach to shared services selection and implementation. In collaboration with the Government Business Council (GBC), the research arm of Government Executive Media Group, Accenture surveyed 468 federal managers to determine their goals and perception of FSSPs.
The opportunities to create significant efficiencies through shared services are widespread throughout the federal government. For example, government can leverage shared services to reduce the $46 billion in requested and often duplicative IT investments. To promote adoption, the government has issued the “Shared-First” initiative and has also created a shared services catalog.
While government initiatives have helped to drive shared services adoption, the agency leaders can make the biggest impact. It is their desire to make their agencies more efficient that will ultimately determine the success of shared services.
To help understand how to drive adoption, we asked respondents what their top goals are for shared services. Federal managers cited three primary goals:
While shared services can certainly provide these benefits, we also found that uptake is stymied by a popular set of concerns.
Topping the list of concerns is the perception that shared services may have the same drawbacks as outsourcing. While outsourcing and shared services do offer some of the same benefits, shared services enable federal agencies to have more control over the entire process, including security, confidentiality, quality and compliance requirements. This autonomy allows agencies to manage outcomes in a manner that is not generally available in outsourcing arrangements.
Other top concerns include fear of being locked into a vendor and an inability to produce an acceptable ROI. To help address these concerns, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) is investing in making shared services more efficient, transparent and flexible. These investments and current directives should help set up an infrastructure in which agencies can more easily move between FSSPs and gain efficiencies that result in a significant ROI.
To maximize the ROI from shared services adoption, we have developed the following lesson learned recommendations:
Leverage shared services for administrative functions so you can focus on mission.
Conduct a thorough assessment before deciding to move a function to a shared service.
Develop implementation plans that go beyond technology.
Be specific in interagency or service-level agreements.
October 22, 2013
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