The Digital Government Strategy, issued last year, is designed to allow federal agencies to embrace technology to increase efficiencies and improve productivity. The idea is to replace agency-specific IT resources with services that can be shared across departments and agencies. Recently, the Federal CIO Council provided additional guidance, releasing the new Federal Shared Services Implementation Guide, which identifies goals for federal IT teams as they move ahead.
As Deputy Chief Information Officer for the Department of Commerce, Izella Mitchell Dornell is responsible for leading the effort that provides Department Information Technology (IT) program and project oversight for all major IT investments aligned with the Department and mission objectives and goals.
Her responsibilities also include facilitating the current shared service initiatives at Commerce headquarters, which include email cloud migration, web hosting, IT security, a tier one service/help desk call center, and video teleconferencing capability.
At the Executive Leadership Briefing event hosted by immixGroup, Dornell shared insight into how she is propelling the agency forward with a share services strategy. “Recently we’ve had a lot of buzz from OMB and our Federal CIO Steven VanRoekel for us to have more CIO authority.” For the Department of Commerce, according to Dornell, they met this demand by having the IT organization at the Office of the Secretary develop an IT portfolio management policy. That policy address shared services, workforce, budget, and enterprise architecture for bureaus under the Department of Commerce.
Yet with an organization as large as Commerce, “one size does not fit all.” Dornell says that the Department looked to the four largest bureaus – NOAA, U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), U.S. Census, and NIST – to develop a roadmap and specific plan for their bureaus. For the smaller bureaus that sit within Commerce headquarters, Dornell decided on a consolidation approach.
“Imagine trying to get six bureaus to do something different and for us all to travel down the same path. That’s a huge paradigm shift. We are doing a lot of that for shared services. “
But Commerce isn’t moving in this direction without industry support. In May, they released a Sources Sought notice to solicit feedback from vendors regarding a unified system to replace a multitude of software tools that have grown up over the years to manage and track agency surveys, marketing campaigns, and social media communications with citizens. Responses were due in June.
Commerce’s efforts to consolidate certain functions and move them to the cloud are timely in light of tight budgets and federal initiatives to leverage shared services and cloud solutions. If the Department Commerce decides to acquire a solution, work on the project would be slated to begin in 2014.