Through several initiatives, the Office of Financial Innovation & Transformation (FIT) increased adoption and improved use of federal shared service providers (FSSPs).
We were directed to do this, and federal agencies were directed to use shared services, by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) in OMB Memorandum M-13-08, "Improving Financial Systems through Shared Services."
The problem FIT was solving
Large projects to modernize financial systems were happening separately in different agencies. Our goal was to reduce the costs associated with modernizing agency by agency, as well as to improve the quality of work and reports.
Using a federal shared services provider (FSSP) has many benefits for agencies. With an FSSP, an agency can:
- focus on their primary mission
- use information and analysis to make better decisions
- avoid the cost of creating and maintaining their own system
- reduce risks of system failures
- gain greater efficiency while saving costs
- adopt new government-wide requirements more easily
- standardize data, which creates more transparency
We helped agencies adopt and use shared services through 5 initiatives:
- Creating a process to select FSSPs
- Helping agencies modernize
- Preparing a catalog of FSSP services
- Surveying FSSPs and their customers
- Creating a framework to assess, monitor, and improve shared services
Creating a process to select FSSPs
The OMB memorandum told FIT to recommend potential FSSPs to OMB. With help from federal agencies and private industry, we created a fair and consistent process for selecting FSSPs. As a result of this process, 4 groups now offer shared services to federal agencies:
- Administrative Resource Center (ARC)
- Enterprise Services Center (ESC)
- Interior Business Center (IBC)
- National Finance Center (NFC)
Helping agencies modernize
We developed a process to guide agencies that come under the Chief Financial Officers Act to move to an FSSP. The process starts when the agency identifies its need to change its financial system and ends when the move to an FSSP is complete.
(The Chief Financial Officers Act of 1990 created the position of CFO in 24 federal agencies.)
Preparing a catalog of FSSP services
To ensure that the FSSPs give the same level of financial services to their customers, we prepared a catalog that:
- identified and defined the services FSSPs must offer
- defined the outputs from those services
- gave the FSSPs' prices for the services and discussed pricing considerations
- gave agencies a way to share up-to-date information based on actual prices and services
Surveying FSSPs and their customers
To see how the FSSPs were doing, we developed a customer satisfaction survey and sent it to the FSSPs and their customers. Our goal for the survey was to set a consistent, government-wide baseline of FSSP quality levels and to have a way to check that the FSSPs continue to deliver high quality services.
Creating a framework to assess, monitor, and improve shared services
No framework existed to assess, monitor, and grow the FSSPs' capabilities. So, we developed one: ProviderStat.
ProviderStat makes information about the FSSPs performance, investments, and governance transparent.
With this information, we can identify and prioritize opportunities for FSSPs to improve.
FIT's current involvement in shared services
In 2016, OMB issued a new memorandum moving primary responsibility for shared services to the Office of Unified Shared Services Management (USSM) in the General Services Administration (GSA). (OMB Memorandum M-16-11, "Improving Administrative Functions through Shared Services.")
As the managing partner of the Financial Management Line of Business (FMLoB), we continue to work with USSM on activities that affect federal financial management.
For more information on shared services today, go to the USSM website.