Should We Go Big or Go Home?

At a recent national forum on identity and access management, our Office of Financial Information and Transformation at the Bureau of the Fiscal Service (Fiscal Service) presented our findings of a study we conducted on needs related to Identity, Credential and Access Management (ICAM). In other words, how citizens login to various programs.

There are many different approaches to ICAM strategies. Some agencies are using narrow proof-of-concepts and pilots. In contrast, Fiscal Service is defining an enterprise-wide approach, which raises the question, should we go big or go home? Is a tactical or strategic approach better for developing ICAM efforts?

Agencies using the tactical approach are working with emerging technologies and providers to address and solve the individual program needs. This approach provides near-term results and answers to specific questions but may not help the enterprise. On the other hand, Fiscal Service is using the strategic approach. Instead of starting with an individual program, a specific need, and a chosen solution to test, we started at a high level. For this case, we engaged stakeholders from all business lines and levels in the organization to set priorities.

We looked at a common set of drivers for the enterprise. We considered duplication of efforts by different businesses for the same needs, our customers’ desire for a seamless experience, and the impact of recently published security standards. That’s a heavy lift for program offices to manage on their own, but through this strategic process, agencies can devote their time to customer transactions.

So, which approach is better? Should we go big or go home? Should we be strategic or tactical? While our strategic approach at Fiscal Service is unique, was it more productive than the tactical efforts used at other agencies? Perhaps there is a case to be made for a hybrid approach -- developing a long-term strategy while executing more tactical projects at the same time. In the end, short-term projects can help inform and evolve the larger strategy in working to provide citizens more seamless and secure access to services.

Quick References

OMB 16-11, Improving Administrative Functions Through Shared Services

Circular No. A-123 Appendix D, Compliance with the Federal Financial Management Improvement Act of l996

OMB M 13-08, Improving Financial Systems Through Shared Services

OMB M 10-26, Immediate Review of Financial Systems IT Projects

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