Dec 31 2009

LOBs Will Transform Service Through Technology

Photo: Henrik de Gyor

Since their inception in 2002, the President’s Electronic Government initiatives have focused on improving services to citizens and businesses, increasing government effectiveness, and reducing costs to taxpayers and agencies alike. Through E-Gov initiatives, citizens are kept at the center of government with easy online access to a range of services from free tax filing to searching and applying for a job with the federal government.

The Lines of Business initiatives, begun in March 2004, expand on our E-Gov efforts. Whereas those initiatives were primarily designed to improve service delivery to citizens and businesses, LOBs help improve agencies’ business processes and service delivery governmentwide through common architecture-driven solutions. By viewing the government as a single enterprise and managing information technology investments accordingly, we are achieving true interagency collaboration to best utilize limited and competing resources.

This collaboration manifests itself in many forms:

  • Agencies with demonstrated capabilities and excellence in certain areas can offer that expertise to other agencies on a shared-services basis: Financial and Human Resources Management LOBs.
  • Agencies can partner to provide solutions to other agencies: Grants Management LOB.
  • Agencies can collectively develop common architectures and determine best practices and standards for service delivery: Case Management, Federal Health Architecture and Information Systems Security LOBs.

The ultimate goal is to better enable agencies to focus on core missions, improving the ability to deliver results to the citizen and taxpayer. By its very nature, the government exists to serve the public, not itself. In today’s complex and resource-constrained environment, it does not make sense for agencies to pursue independent solutions to common problems.

We are seeing results emerge where agencies work together. In 2002, 26 payroll systems existed, despite vast similarities in payroll processing governmentwide. Now, rather than operating independent systems, agencies are reducing costs and improving efficiencies by utilizing payroll services provided by the two governmentwide payroll service provider partnerships. By migrating to the Defense Finance and Accounting Service in April 2005, the Health and Human Services Department has reduced annual payroll processing costs by over 65 percent for its more than 65,000 employees.

Building upon the success of payroll, the HR LOB seeks to standardize and consolidate agency HR systems through the use of public and soon-to-be private shared-services centers. While migrations are just beginning, we are already seeing expected results. The Housing and Urban Development Department anticipates savings of $27 million over 10 years through its migration to the Treasury Department’s HR Connect and the subsequent shutdown of 17 systems.

Some of the most important results, however, are potentially beyond measure. For example, the Federal Health Architecture LOB is working within the government health community to improve the accuracy, reliability and availability of comprehensive health information through a common framework. In practice, data sharing and systems interoperability will improve the health and safety of citizens by providing easier and faster access to information and services. In an emergency situation, access to such data can save lives.

Going forward, we anticipate more success stories — not only from the existing LOBs but also from others in the planning stages. We are confident this approach will let us achieve enduring results for agencies, businesses and citizens alike.