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Monday, August 13, 2007

A rally behind accounting codes

Use of common financial standards is seen as a precursor to governmentwide reforms

The government finally is putting the cart behind the horse when it comes to financial management. The Financial Systems Integration Office (FSIO) last week released governmentwide accounting codes to help agencies standardize their business processes, financial data and interfaces for financial reporting.

Officials said the standards should encourage agencies to divert some of the energy they expend on building new financial systems to improving the reporting functions of their existing systems.

Lawmakers and financial experts have criticized the Office of Management and Budget and the General Services Administration for asking agencies to participate in the FM LOB before OMB and GSA put the basic building blocks in place.

“They needed to look at things like a common governmentwide accounting code, which would help bring everything together for the FM LOB,” said Mike Hettinger, director of practice, planning and marketing at Grant Thornton, a consulting company. Hettinger is a former staff director of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee’s Government Management, Finance and Accountability Subcommittee.

The newly released Common Governmentwide Accounting Classification standards offer agencies a common way to code and categorize financial transactions. The standards establish a common understanding of the concepts of managing financial transactions. They will be recognized across government just as standards for automated teller machines are recognized and used by all banks, said Linda Combs, outgoing controller at OMB.

-Mary Mosquera, FCW.com

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