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Thursday, November 16, 2006

DOI financial, business management system goes live

The Interior Department has activated crucial components of a new SAP system that will consolidate all of the agency’s financial and business management platforms by 2010, according to DOI officials.

About 152 management systems, including property, acquisition and grants operations, will be rolled into one departmental Financial and Business Management System (FBMS) that will service all of the agency's bureaus. On Nov. 14, DOI officials moved the accounting systems at the Minerals Management Service and the Office of Surface Mining to FBMS.

“This is the real test of the system. At this point, the heart’s beating very well,” said W. Hord Tipton, chief information officer at DOI, who is retiring from the agency after this year. He wanted to see the operation get off the ground before leaving, he said.

The project is behind by 13 months because Interior was experiencing problems with contractor BearingPoint and ultimately severed ties with the company. A new contract for FBMS integration was subsequently awarded to IBM Global Business Services in March.

Making that change "did delay our schedule somewhat, but we feel confident about the product that we are deploying," said Nina Hatfield, senior procurement executive at DOI.

Next year, the department would like to integrate the Bureau of Land Management’s operations with the new system but budgetary constraints may hamper that goal.

“This is a funding issue and we’ve not yet made a total decision,” Hatfield said.

Tipton describes FBMS as the department’s entrĂ©e into a major chunk of the government’s shared services business. He sees it as a potential service for Interior's Center of Excellence. A COE is an organization within one agency that handles back-office functions for several agencies to save money.

Mandated by the President’s Management Agenda, the Office of Management and Budget intends for many financial management operations to be concentrated within COEs. Interior’s COE, the National Business Center, hosts financial management and human resources support for outside agencies on platforms other than SAP.

“As we bring up the FBMS, that will enable us to offer our customers a suite of services using SAP as the core,” Hatfield said.

“Our big focus right now is trying to get ourselves on to a single financial system,” she said. “When we get that accomplished, we will turn to making it available to external customers.”

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