The federal government, much like any other organization, either provides for itself or buys a wide range of overhead services to support its operations. Overhead is not a derogatory term — it is just the term that is applied to services that are necessary to support the mission of an agency. Missions do not get accomplished without overhead services. While overhead services such as Human Resources, Financial Management or Contracting support follow laws and regulations that are remarkably consistent across agencies, most agencies have dedicated internal service providers. The result is a level of redundancy and cost that diverts scarce resources to overhead functions rather than agency missions. Faced with decreasing budgets and shocks such as sequestration, agencies can no longer afford to carry out business-as-usual with respect to common support services. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel challenged his department and its stakeholders to "challenge all past assumptions" and "put everything on the table."
Commentary by Jeff Neal
Founder of ChiefHRO.com
& Senior Vice President, ICF International