Implementing a Shared Services Strategy is No Simple Task

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It should come as no surprise that the federal government, particularly those agencies that make up the security community, want to adopt a shared services strategy. Shared services consolidates duplicative business operations, eliminates redundancy, and improves effectiveness, ultimately saving taxpayer dollars. It is a winning strategy for government leaders and good governance advocates. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS), for example, has been working in earnest toward adopting a shared services approach in its management strategy.

However, despite best intentions, the government has struggled with implementation. The latest illustration of this struggle came in October when the White House announced that it is shifting oversight of its shared services strategy to the General Services Administration and away from the previous, bifurcated management between the Treasury Department and the Office of Management and Budget. It was a clear signal that the Administration recognized that their first attempts were a misstep, and that they now believe GSA is better positioned to overcome the inherent cultural and procedural hurdles that come with implementation. Similarly, despite its dedicated attempts, DHS continues to struggle with “functional silos;” with sub-agencies remaining largely independent within the department.

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