NASA Shared Services Center
Situation Before: Historically, NASA’s human resources, procurement, financial management, and information technology activities were independently carried out at ten different NASA Centers throughout the country. Having been established at different times and with different missions, the functions at the various centers had developed different tools, organizational structures and operating procedures to perform similar tasks.
NASA began considering consolidation of the portions of these functions that were high in volume and lower in complexity in 2001. A team was formed to investigate the feasibility of applying industry’s shared services concept within the Agency. The results of this review indicated that NASA would benefit from a shared services approach to these administrative activities because it would achieve efficiency across functions, streamline and standardize Agency best practices for these activities, and promote strategic management of NASA resources. Both NASA and the US taxpayer would be well served by this cost saving approach, which allows the Agency to focus its critical resources on its core mission, the Vision for Space Exploration.
Actions Taken: Early in the review process, it became apparent that the Competitive Sourcing initiative under the President’s Management Agenda, as defined by OMB Circular A-76, might be readily applicable to the establishment of the NASA Shared Services Center (NSSC). NASA decided to consolidate selected functional activities to a single site, rather than establishing multiple regional service centers. NASA wished to leverage existing resources and maximize synergies by placing the NSSC at or near an existing NASA location. Therefore, potential sites looked at were limited to the six NASA Centers that volunteered to host the NSSC. Further, to capitalize on the community and state interest in the NSSC site location, the NASA Centers were permitted to partner with local governments during proposal development to optimize the site facilities and services within the laws concerning augmentation of appropriation.
In 2003, the site nomination guidelines and criteria were released and public announcement made that NASA would be holding a Public-Private competition, in accordance with OMB Circular A-76. The Public-Private competition resulted in award of the NSSC contract to Computer Sciences Corporation (CSC) with the site selected being Stennis Space Center in Mississippi. Due to protests made immediately following the award, and Hurricane Katrina’s devastation to the Coast of Mississippi in August 2005 – the opening of the NSSC was delayed until March 1, 2006.
Results: To date, the NSSC has processed $5B in transactions and supported NASA’s 18,000 employees with an operating budget of $40M and only 300 employees. The NSSC is exceeding expectations in numerous ways including: reducing anticipated start-up costs by $5 million, excellent performance metrics (for timeliness and quality) during the initial performance period; high customer satisfaction ratings, and enabling a greater focus on NASA’s core mission.
The NSSC also presents opportunities to achieve synergy across functions while achieving a critical mass of “core” expertise to manage and perform shared services. The NSSC has provided a stronger focal point for delivering transactional and specialty services than previously existed, and accelerated the adoption of business process reengineering within NASA. As a result, employees at NASA’s field centers are able to allocate more time to value-added activities that provide strategic direction through a more pointed focus on NASA’s core missions. In addition to aligning with the Agency’s strategic direction, the NSSC is being used to leverage economies of scale, resulting in cost benefits and efficiencies while increasing the quality of work produced. NASA projects that changes resulting from the public-private competition will reduce the cost of internal support operations by more than $40 million over a period of ten years.