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Monday, April 23, 2007

Can metrics persuade holdouts?

OMB hopes performance measures will make the case for using shared-service providers

Federal officials could soon have a clearer picture of how effectively and efficiently agencies provide financial-management services compared with other agencies and particularly compared with providers that operate shared-service centers under the Bush administration’s Financial Management Line of Business program.

Recent Financial Management LOB reporting guidance presents performance measures for evaluating financial-management services. Mandatory reporting based on those measures will provide a credible basis for evaluating financial-management services that federal agencies might seek from shared-service providers, said Keith Thurston, assistant deputy associate administrator at the General Services Administration’s Office of Governmentwide Policy.

Officials responsible for the Financial Management LOB say they expect the metrics and new reporting requirement to provide evidence that will help persuade agencies to use shared-service providers. The Office of Management and Budget established the metrics in the Financial Services Assessment Guide, which agencies and shared-service providers must begin using to report April data to OMB by June 15 and monthly thereafter.

Agencies would use the performance data to evaluate potential providers for hosting their financial systems and developing applications, said Trisha Broadbelt, deputy program manager of the Financial Management LOB at the Interior Department’s National Business Center in Denver. The data will provide a better sense of the overall value that a shared-service provider can deliver, she said.

Agencies have worked with OMB and GSA through participation on the Chief Financial Officers Council’s Performance Measures Working Group to determine which measures would be most appropriate.

Thurston said he anticipates that agencies will comply with the requirement to report their performance data or at least their progress toward setting up that capability. “The results and peer comparisons are in themselves the motivation for agencies to move to better performing solutions,” he said.

Some agencies perform financial-management functions their own way and without a clear business reason for doing so, which makes it difficult to compare their performance with that of other agencies and providers, said Dianne Copeland, program director of the Financial Systems Integration Office. The performance measures will provide data on a consistent level so services can be evaluated and compared.

-Mary Mosquera, FCW.com

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