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Monday, December 22, 2008

OMB: Standards will boost financial performance

The Office of Management and Budget released more guidelines in November to help agencies consolidate and improve their financial accounting practices, according to a Dec. 18 press release.

The latest financial management standards encourage agencies to adopt a single approach to handling accounts receivable. Many agencies have different business processes, which complicates oversight for agencies and auditors charged with reconciling financial information and measuring performance, OMB said.

Establishing common accounting processes is a goal of OMB’s Financial Management Line of Business, which the General Service Administration’s Financial Systems Integration Office (FSIO) manages.

The guidance includes steps for managing accounts due from the public and an agency’s billing and collection divisions, she said. The steps describe internal controls and the best ways to take advantage of electronic tools, such as processing, information routing, review and approval, she added.

OMB previously published standard business processes for contract payments and funds control and distribution, said Danny Werfel, OMB’s deputy controller, in a memo to agency chief financial officers released Dec. 19.

FSIO will update the core requirements for financial management systems to incorporate the new business standards, and it will test vendor software during the qualification and certification process, Werfel said. Agencies must implement the business standards by moving to government or commercial shared-services providers when they are ready to upgrade their financial systems, he added. Those providers are equipped to offer financial management systems and services to many agencies.

- Mary Mosquera, FCW.com

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