Creating a robust shared services environment for government has been the subject of serious discussion for over 20 years, which I know. In 2005, the government designated five organizations as HR shared service providers and implemented a process to reduce payroll service providers from 26 to four. GSA has released the 738x contract plan to bring the shared service to the private sector. Also during this period, electronic grants were created at HHS, enterprise human resource integration (EHRI) systems at OPM, and other systems to support shared services or consolidate workflows. All of these initiatives have been successful in themselves, but compared to other governments and the private sector, real and robust shared service offerings have alluded to the federal government in a number of disciplines and even within one discipline. For years, the government had «business line» offices, today the focus has been strengthened with the Unified Shared Services Management Office (USSM) within the GSA, an office designated by the OMB as an integrator of shared services across the federal government. The initial focus of the MSSU is Financial Management (FM), Human Resources (HR), Procurement, Information Technology (IT) and Grant Management. There is interest on the hill and support from organizations like the Shared Services Leadership Coalition and suppliers willing to invest in building the systems. But I don`t think the USSM gets the support and resources to do that and take advantage of it. It`s time to stop talking and start talking, and with this government`s goal, this is the perfect initiative. Those dealing with shared services can recite the benefits with their eyes closed, but let`s set the level here.
Benefits include: Finally, municipalities can maximize the chances of success by working with the communities they already do business with. A shared services agreement obviously requires two reliable partners, so working with another community where trust already exists is common sense. Especially for communities that do not have a long history of service sharing, municipal officials should start with smaller, more manageable shared services initiatives with trusted partners and work on more complex but rewarding agreements. This is not the job of government by nature and yes, you can. In fact, the required investments could be significantly reduced if the private sector provided support on a payment for the service – per capita, per transaction, etc. as part of a SaaS model. Political concerns and loss of local control are another major obstacle to intergovernmental agreements on services. Even with the successful implementation of a shared services initiative, elected leaders are often confronted with the public perception that local residents are the «losers» in an agreement with a neighboring jurisdiction.
There is often a perception that the net benefit of an agreement is one-sided, with the strongest partner subsidizing the weak. In addition, shared services can pose a threat to local fiefdoms. Eliminating layoffs can mean fewer contracts and employees need to be hired. Streamlining services can also mean laying off existing employees, which some executives are reluctant to do. To cope with these pressures and achieve new efficiencies, state and local officials are turning to joint services. In New Jersey, Governor Murphy appointed a «tsar» for joint services. In New York, Governor Cuomo is expanding existing shared services initiatives, citing new federal tax laws as reasons to cut local spending. Other county and local governments across the country have set up shared services panels and related programs to streamline costs. First, intergovernmental cooperation agreements are likely to be more common than most citizens realize. Local governments cooperate in many areas, including multi-jurisdictional utilities, joint procurement and purchasing, compensation investments, regional transportation, tax collection, and even easy equipment sharing. In fact, it is becoming increasingly common for municipalities to create regionalized police and fire departments. Set up inter-agency boards to work together to standardize data and recommend what is included in shared services and what is not.
Focus on the 90% rule. We know the benefits intuitively and it has proven itself with other governments and in the private sector. The German government is lagging behind, it is time to move forward vigorously. Any good businessman can see that an investment in this area will result in high returns, improved services and a reduced government footprint. Not all of these are challenges, but they are significant challenges that, if overcome (and can be overcome), will rapidly evolve common services across government. Start now, move forward, it`s time! A successful shared services initiative will also target the right services. Municipal governments should ask themselves: Which projects offer the best chance of success? What does success mean? Is the project capital- or labour-intensive? Is the project focused on the front line or residents or does it support the back office? The answer to these questions depends on the circumstances. ESI recently worked with a community that is pursuing a regionalized fire department. A similar initiative was attempted a few years ago, but failed for various reasons, but ultimately due to a lack of political will. Today, the deterioration of the municipality`s budgetary situation is creating a new political dynamic for both elected officials and firefighters in the affected fire departments. Unfortunately, as in the present case, short-term political realities do not always coincide with the long-term interests of the Community.
Yes, there are many, and they cost the government a fortune and get older. Use part of the planned IT investment fund to introduce shared services. The entire effort will take five to eight years to be functional (incomplete) and will require this investment. Intergovernmental cooperation and service sharing are not new ideas. Although it is now regaining attention, governments have long sought to eliminate layoffs and/or improve services through intergovernmental public service agreements. So why don`t governments work together more often? Despite a robust economy nationwide, many local governments face persistent fiscal pressures and funding gaps. .