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Monday, August 28, 2006

Financial LOB moves to standardize rules

Agencies will gain a clearer picture next month of how the administration wants them to standardize financial-management activities.

The General Services Administration expects to complete the major milestones for data and business process standardization in September to advance the Financial Management Line of Business Consolidation initiative.

Combined, these milestones constitute a foundation for letting agencies share financial data internally and eventually across government, said Keith Thur- ston, assistant deputy associate administrator in the Office of Technology Strategy in GSA’s Office of Governmentwide Policy.

With the financial LOB, the Office of Management and Budget aims to lower the cost, and improve quality and performance of financial-management systems, as agencies move to shared-services pro-viders, said Adam Goldberg, chief of the Financial Integrity and Analysis Branch in OMB’s Office of Federal Financial Management.

Although more guidance will evolve over time, it will be clear to agencies next month that a road map is in place, Thurston said.

“If agencies want or need to move to a new financial-management system now, the processes and expectations will be in place to help that occur,” he said.

In September, GSA will unveil the Common Governmentwide Accounting Code, giving agencies common definitions, data elements and structure, Thurston said.

“With universal data definitions, we will be able to aggregate and compare data,” he said at a recent federal financial-management conference sponsored by the Treasury Department’s Financial Management Service.

All new financial-management systems must adhere to the common code, he added.

GSA also will release the first set of business process standards for financial and accounting tasks in the common areas of payments, receipts, funds management and reporting. The standards will be the result of consolidating and harmonizing agencies’ accounting methods and business practices for the core financial-management functions, Thurston said.

A strong foundation for the accounting of government resources is critical for accomplishing the goals of the FM LOB, said Sam Mok, Labor Department chief financial officer.

GSA, its Financial Systems Integration Office, OMB and the Chief Financial Officers Council govern the Financial Management Line of Business.

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