Citizen Engagement in the Government – Where to Start?

Post-Award Contract Management – Where the Acquisition Rubber Meets the Performance Road

Implementing Shared Services in Government – Lessons from the UK

I recently attended a breakfast hosted by the Shared Services Leadership Coalition. The theme was “The Future of Federal Shared Services.” Former US Congressman Tom Davis spoke about his work preparing for presidential transitions. It was surprising to learn that the government is planning the transition this early in the election cycle. But the bigger surprise was in the set of priorities that came out of early planning. According to Mr. Davis, these priorities have included national security, domestic policy, economic policy, and White House staffing; interestingly, the planning also included using shared services as a way to implement these priorities.  Would shared services indeed be a key to implementation?

Digital Economy, Analog Government

Following Mr. Davis, Carolyn Williamson, Director of Corporate Services with Hampshire County UK, also spoke at the event.  Ms. Williamson has built a successful shared services environment across the Hampshire County government (shared services was defined as re-designing back office processes across an organization, and using technology like digital services to improve operations and reduce costs). She achieved cost and headcount reductions, but encountered significant challenges along the way. The first was protecting front line services.  She also warned against underestimating organizational change.  People in the organization recognized that their operations needed to change.  But they didn’t want to have someone else impose a process on them.  My colleague, shared services expert Jesse Samberg, called shared services “the sweet spot between central control and distributed operations. Shared Services consolidated, but most importantly, redesigned back office functions and processes onto a consolidated technology platform.” Another challenge, especially in government, was digital services quality.  She emphasized that new digital services had to be as effective and easy to use as commercial web sites. Fortunately, both cost effectiveness and customer service could be delivered through the same shared services transformation. In a recent study on shared services in government, Forrester surveyed 663 global government decision-makers.  The study concluded that “Improving customer experience tops government priorities, but cost reduction remains most critical.” Again, improved services and reduced costs.

Cost Efficiency, Resiliency and Capacity

Ms. Williamson said that her program started with a business case.  She said that the program delivered on its target of 20% cost take-out, on time and on budget.  But she acknowledged that it can be difficult to discuss headcount reductions. It’s a sensitive topic on this side of the Atlantic as well.  Several years ago there was worry about a Federal Government “Silver Tsunami” of retiring baby boomers.  That wave has so far been a ripple, but those workers will retire at some point. So net employee attrition is a given for US federal agencies in the near term.  Shared services can help prevent critical gaps in mission capability.

Data Ownership, Automation, and Analytics

How did Hampshire County government employees maintain service levels with fewer people?  Ms. Williamson said analytics were key to driving process automation.  She pointed out that manual processes cause most mistakes in her environment.  Those mistakes drive higher cost due to labor for rework to fix problems.  She also provided members of the Hampshire County community access to their data.  This allowed constituents to keep their data accurate and current. Self-service is clearly the direction private sector service organizations have been going for more than a decade.

Mission Focused Digital Services

Ms. Williamson said that she focused on several key design priorities.  The first was delivering self-service to empower constituents to take control of their data.  The second was simplicity to focus on achieving a clear outcome for a specific activity.  The third was making digital services as intuitive and easy to use as possible.  She emphasized that she still follows these priorities today.  Mobility was also critical.  Ms. Williamson said that only 25% of the government employees in her scope were desk bound, with the rest working out in the community.   Digital education was critical, as many organizations lacked digital skills.  They may have been working in an analog environment at the start of the transformation, but training and technical assistance moved them to a digital focus.  Ms. Williamson’s team did roadshows around digital services to support change management.  Many users wanted classroom training, which was expensive and time consuming.  Ms. Williamson said that users didn’t need them.  She found that well designed digital services were intuitive enough without classroom training sessions.

Shared Services is a Priority

US Federal CIO Tony Scott advocated a $3.1B budget allocation for IT modernization in next year’s Federal budget.  The intent was to develop digital services that drive operational cost reductions.  The government could use savings from these reductions to fund future IT Modernization investments.  He recently said “If you’re successful in getting [IT Modernization] funding it’ll be because you’re coming up with a proposal that takes more advantage of shared services…”.  The opportunity is clear.  Shared services belong on the next president’s agenda.


Read Matt's previous blog, "Government Transformation to Improve Program Outcomes."

New Thinking to Resolve Old Problems: The Partnership Fund for Program Integrity Innovation

The Partnership Fund for Program Integrity Innovation was established in 2010 with a $37.5 million appropriation managed by OMB, authorized through FY 2012. The Partnership Fund fosters dialogue among States, localities, and the Federal government to identify and fund innovative pilot projects that bridge or break down the silos across programs and between levels of government to improve service and reduce costs in government benefit programs.

Follow the Technology Money: Priorities from the 2012 IT Budget Proposal (and Beyond)


As occurs each year, the President’s Budget Proposal includes a Chapter on IT spending – it’s in the “Analytical Perspectives” document, Chapter 20.  This chapter highlights key current and forthcoming priorities, and represents the IT spending report required under the Clinger Cohen Act

Information Policy in the New World – Back to the Future?


The other day a highly respected colleague, Reynolds Cahoon (formerly CIO for the National Archives and Records Administration) called to ask an excellent question:  is anyone thinking about a strategic approach to coalescing the vast quantity of information that now permeates government and its many stakeholders and constituents more than ever before?  

Lessons in Cybersecurity: What I Learned at RSA

The RSA Conference ( hosts the leadership and a large swath of the membership of the cybersecurity world.  Key figures speak at plenary sessions, including White House Cybersecurity Coordinator Howard Schmidt, Cyber Command Director Keith Alexander, Deputy Secretary of Defense Bill Lynn, DHS Deputy Under Secretary Phil Reitinger, and NIST Director Pat Gallagher.  A much larger number participate in panel sessions and informal discussions.  I moderated a panel around the challenges that security and pri

How Do You Do a Start-up in the Government? Lessons from Leaders

(Dan Blair, President of the National Academy of Public Administration, collaborated on this blog)


The Innovation Agenda: Private Sector Action, Government Benefit

President Obama has made private sector innovation a centerpiece of the Administration’s agenda for growth and job creation.  This is a subject that has broad support across the spectrum:  citizens, businesses and governments all look to commercial activity as an economic engine; new technologies play a key role in this pursuit.  The Nation’s Chief Technology Officer, Aneesh Chopra, has been a very visible leader of this activity, with frequent and recent blogs through the White House and media web sites (

How Can CIOs Best Drive IT to Support Mission and Organizational Performance?

Federal Chief Information Officers, like their private sector CIO counterparts, lead the integration of information technology and organizational strategy.  CIOs must balance the daily needs of operational IT across their enterprise with how IT can contribute to longer term mission goals – including how government can best serve citizens with modern technology platforms, and protecting the nation from physical and cyber threats – while at the same time overseeing policy and resources for IT in a challenging fiscal environment.  U.S.


Executive Director
IBM Center for The Business of Government
600 14th Street, NW
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(202) 551-9310

Dan Chenok is Executive Director of the IBM Center for The Business of Government. He oversees all of the Center's activities in connecting research to practice to benefit government, and has written and spoken extensively around government technology, cybersecurity, privacy, regulation, budget, acquisition, and Presidential transitions. Mr. Chenok previously led consulting services for Public Sector Technology Strategy, working with IBM government, healthcare, and education clients.

Mr. Chenok serves in numerous industry leadership positions. He is a CIO SAGE and member of the Research Advisory Council with the Partnership for Public Service, Fellow of the National Academy of Public Administration, Member of the Board of Directors for the Senior Executives Association, Member of the Government Accountability Office Polaris Advisory Council for Science and Technology, Member of the American University IT Executive Council, and Mentor with the Global Policy, Diplomacy, and Sustainability Fellowship.  Previously, he served as Chair of the Industry Advisory Council (IAC) for the government-led American Council for Technology (ACT), Chair of the Cyber Subcommittee of the DHS Data Privacy and Integrity Advisory Committee, Chair of the NIST-sponsored Federal Information Security and Privacy Advisory Board, and two-time Cybersecurity commission member with the Center for Strategic and International Studies. Mr. Chenok also generally advises public sector leaders on a wide range of management issues. Finally, Mr. Chenok serves as an Adjunct Associate Professor with the LBJ School of Public Affairs at the University of Texas in Austin, teaching at the school's Washington, DC Center.  

Before joining IBM, Mr. Chenok was a Senior Vice President for Civilian Operations with Pragmatics, and prior to that was a Vice President for Business Solutions and Offerings with SRA International.

As a career Government executive, Mr. Chenok served as Branch Chief for Information Policy and Technology with the Office of Management and Budget, where he led a staff with oversight of federal information and IT policy, including electronic government, computer security, privacy and IT budgeting. Prior to that, he served as Assistant Branch Chief and Desk Officer for Education, Labor, HHS, and related agencies in OMB's Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs. Mr. Chenok began his government service as an analyst with the Congressional Office of Technology Assessment, and left government service at the end of 2003.

In 2008, Mr. Chenok served on President Barack Obama’s transition team as the Government lead for the Technology, Innovation, and Government Reform group, and as a member of the OMB Agency Review Team.

Mr. Chenok has won numerous honors and awards, including a 2010 Federal 100 winner for his work on the presidential transition, the 2016 Eagle Award for Industry Executive of the Year, and the 2002 Federal CIO Council Azimuth Award for Government Executive of the Year.

Mr. Chenok earned a BA from Columbia University and a Master of Public Policy degree from Harvard's Kennedy School of Government.