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Friday, February 27, 2009

Draft standard could improve financial reports

The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) and the Financial Systems Integration Office (FSIO) have published a draft version of a standard business process that agencies will use to produce required reports that are given OMB and the Treasury Department.

The processes are among several core standards that agencies are to adopt to improve financial management when they move to modernized financial systems, said a FSIO news release of Feb. 23. FSIO is an office in the General Services Administration. Implementing standard business processes is a component of OMB’s Financial Management Line of Business (FM LOB) consolidation effort.

Agencies would use the standard report management process to generate financial data and statements including for balance sheets and statement of budgetary resources, according to the draft document. Other standard business processes are for management of payments, funds control, accounts receivables or billing customers, and reimbursables or payments for goods and services.

FSIO said it plans to incorporate the business standards into the core financial system requirements after a comment period that ends March 25. Agencies must implement the standards by moving to systems that incorporate the business standards when they update their current financial systems, OMB has said. Agencies must move to these systems by using government or commercial shared-services providers that meet criteria under the FM LOB, OMB has said. Those providers are equipped to offer financial management systems and services to many agencies.

By standardizing processes, data and interfaces, agencies can provide more reliable financial data more quickly at lower cost for senior officials to use to make management decisions, Dianne Copeland, FSIO’s director, has said. Under the FM LOB effort, agencies are also beginning to use governmentwide accounting standards.

In another report about financial management, federal and industry executives said the FM LOB had already made significant progress, but the Obama administration needs a comprehensive strategy, improved governance and processes for interagency collaboration to advance the effort, according to a transition study group of the Industry Advisory Council.

The administration should increase the focus on financial management and its integration with key management support functions, including planning, acquisition, programming and budget management, said the report released Feb. 11.

Agencies need to modernize their financial management systems so they can produce reliable and timely financial and performance information throughout the year and at the fiscal year end, the IAC said. Current and accurate financial data will also be required for the administration’s transparency efforts, such as www.recovery.gov, to monitor how agencies spend money from the economic stimulus law, the report said.

In addition to a comprehensive plan and more effective governance, IAC recommended that the administration:
  • Communicate the value to Congress of the FM LOB.
  • Support centralized services through a service-oriented architecture and an enterprise services bus to drive budgeting, reporting and influence business case decisions for information technology spending.
  • Direct agency executives to establish and fund best practices and approaches in IT, such as centralizing business processes and IT infrastructure.
-Mary Mosquera, FCW.com
READ MORE...

FSIO Releases Reports Management Standard Business Process Exposure Draft

Reports Management Standard Business Process Exposure Draft - February 2009

FMLOB Reporting Management - Reporting Management is the fourth chapter in a series of Federal Financial Management Standard Business Processes that establish the framework for consolidating and optimizing, financial accounting practices in the Federal Government to improve cost, quality, and performance government-wide.

Identifying the standard reporting capabilities that must be present in all Core Financial Systems ensures that Agencies will have the tools necessary to monitor the input, output, and operation of the Core Financial System, as well as produce basic data for use by both the Agency and regulatory reporting entities, such as OMB and Treasury. The following reporting categories are included in this release of the Reports Management standard business process:
  • Financial Statements
  • General Ledger
  • Payment Management
  • Receivable Management
  • Reimbursable Management
  • System Management and
  • Treasury Reporting
The review period for this exposure draft will end on March 25, 2009. Please submit your comments and questions in writing by close of business on March 25th to fsio@gsa.gov, using the comment template provided.

Cover Letter- [Word]- February 2009
Reports Management Exposure Draft- [Word] [PDF]- February 2009
Comment Template- [Excel]- February 2009

IAC Transition Study - Demonstrating Results in the FMLOB

Billions of dollars have been spent throughout the federal government by agencies to enhance their business operations. This paper addresses the Financial Line of Business (FMLOB) and how government and industry can work collaboratively to implement mandates, policies, and directives to further drive performance improvement and reduce risks for business operations.

- American Council for Technology and Industry Advisory Council

Read the report here

Today's GAO Publication

The Government Accountability Office (GAO) today released the following report:

Financial Audit: American Battle Monuments Commission's Financial Statements for Fiscal Years 2008 and 2007.
GAO-09-293, February 27
http://www.gao.gov/cgi-bin/getrpt?GAO-09-293
Highlights - http://www.gao.gov/highlights/d09293high.pdf

U.S. Department of Homeland Security Inspector General Management Reports Update

Updates to the Inspector General Management Reports for U.S. Department of Homeland Security, include:


OIG-09-22 - U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's Management of 2005 Gulf Coast Hurricanes Mission Assignment Funding

(PDF, 31 pages - 1.82 MB) New 02/26/2009


OIG-09-21 - Independent Review of the U.S. Customs and Border Protection's Reporting of FY 2008 Drug Control Performance Summary Report (PDF, 11 pages - 384 KB) New 02/26/2009

DHS financial system contract protested, again

The Homeland Security Department's contract to upgrade its financial management system has come under protest, again.

Savantage Solutions submitted a complaint to the U.S. Court of Federal Claims Feb. 23 claiming the department's request for proposals was unduly restrictive, says a company spokesman.

The Savantage spokesman says the RFP is unduly restrictive because DHS seems to be looking for a specific type of financial management software that can integrate with existing procurement and other systems.

According to DHS's Exhibit 53 for the financial management system, the agency uses several Oracle systems as well as Compusearch's Prism and Sunflower asset management system.

Savantage protested the first RFP DHS put out more than a year ago, saying the department's brand name justification was illegal. The federal judge sustained the protest and told DHS to issue a full and open solicitation.

Industry sources say the protest likely will not delay DHS's plans.

"DHS remains committed to the mission of transforming and consolidating financial management systems throughout the department," the spokesman says. "We will continue to focus on strengthening department-wide financial accountability, and consider the best way to deliver the right tools into the hands of our operators and the right information in the hands of our decision makers."

DHS - Exhibit 53 for financial management system upgrade (pdf)
FedBizOpps.gov - DHS solicitation for financial management system upgrade

- Jason Miller, FederalNewsRadio.com

READ MORE...

FedCFO.com PUBLISHER's NOTE: Savantage derives a large portion of its revenue from Operations & Maintenance support for legacy financial systems installed at various DHS agencies. Savantage's glaringly obvious financial incentives for prolonging the DHS financial system modernization program have yet to be highlighted by the media.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Today's GAO Publications

The Government Accountability Office (GAO) released the following reports, testimony, and correspondence:

Excluded Parties List System: Suspended and Debarred Businesses and Individuals Improperly Receive Federal Funds.
GAO-09-174, February 25
http://www.gao.gov/cgi-bin/getrpt?GAO-09-174
Highlights - http://www.gao.gov/highlights/d09174high.pdf


Troubled Asset Relief Program: Status of Efforts to Address Transparency and Accountability Issues.
GAO-09-417T, February 24
http://www.gao.gov/cgi-bin/getrpt?GAO-09-417T

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Interior IG tapped to oversee stimulus spending

Earl Devaney, the longtime Interior Department inspector general, will be moving to a new job overseeing the $787 billion economic stimulus package.

President Barack Obama announced Monday that Devaney will chair the Transparency and Accountability Board created by the stimulus bill. Obama has said the board will provide central oversight over the stimulus spending, which is being conducted by dozens of departments and agencies.

Devaney has served as Interior’s IG since 1999. He investigated a number of high-profile scandals while at the department: He helped uncover disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff’s dealings with Interior officials, for example. And he investigated conflicts of interest and illegal contracts at the department’s Minerals Management Service last year.

-Gregg Carlstrom, FederalTimes.com
READ MORE...

Monday, February 23, 2009

Take the AGA/Grant Thornton LLP Online Survey on Government Financial Issues

This online survey is being conducted both in the U.S. through AGA and in Canada through the Institute for Financial Management. Topics include financial reporting, dealing with tough financial times and top concerns of financial professionals. Give us your ideas for improving government financial management in the 14th annual CFO Survey. Click here to take part in this anonymous survey.

AGA's National Leadership Conference a Big Success

If you were unable to attend AGA's Seventh Annual National Leadership Conference in Washington, D.C., last Thursday and Friday, you can read all about it on AGA's Blog. Photos from the event are also available.

AGA - Sample CGFM Examination Questions Now Available

AGA's website now offers sample CGFM Examination questions.

Go to "What Do Exams Cover" page and click on "View CGFM Examinations Sample Questions" link.

Looking for some guidance on the best way to prepare for the examinations? Here are some tips to help you be more successful.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Today's GAO Publications

The Government Accountability Office (GAO) released the following publications:

Principles of Federal Appropriations Law: Third Edition, Volume III
GAO-08-978SP
http://www.gao.gov/special.pubs/d08978sp.pdf

Certificated Expenditures: Executive Office of the President Fiscal Year 2007 Certificated Expenditures Were Used for Authorized Purposes.
GAO-09-305, February 17.
http://www.gao.gov/cgi-bin/getrpt?GAO-09-305

"GAO's Work on Today's High Risk Issues and Long-Term Challenges," by Gene L. Dodaro, acting comptroller general, before the Arizona Society of CPAs, in Phoenix, Arizona.
GAO-09-382CG, February 6, 2009
http://www.gao.gov/cghome/d09382cg.pdf

"Challenges Facing the New Administration and the 111th Congress," by Gene L. Dodaro, acting comptroller general, before the AGA 2009 Leadership Conference, in Washington, D.C.
GAO-09-383CG, February 19, 2009
http://www.gao.gov/cghome/d09383cg.pdf

CFOs Need Money, Not Just Mandates

The stimulus bill will pump a lot of money into agencies, with a lot of mandates to put into action. But money to implement what the plan includes isn't there. Linda Springer, Executive Director of Industry and Knowledge at Ernst & Young and former Director of the Office of Personnel Management, talked about what that means for the CFO Council, and how they can help themselves.

Listen Here

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

CFO Academy Seeking Faculty

The U.S. Government CFO Academy sponsored by the CFO Council and Department of Defense (DoD) is recruiting applicants for two faculty positions in Government Financial Management and Leadership. The Academy, located at the National Defense University in Washington, provides accredited graduate education for mid-level managers leading to the CFO Leadership Certificate.

Please visit usajobs.gov.

For more details about the CFO Academy contact Elizabeth McDaniel at 202.685.3884 or Jackie Durkee at 202.685.2169.

OMB Requiring 'Snapshots' of Financial Performance

Citizens should expect their federal government to spend their taxpayer dollars effectively and more efficiently each year. For FY08, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) required each of the 24 CFO Act agencies to produce a two-page snapshot that summarizes its budget, financial and performance results. View the snapshots.

AGA FMSB Issues Three Comment Letters to FASAB

AGA's Financial Management Standards Board (FMSB) provided comments to the Federal Accounting Standards Advisory Board (FASAB) on its exposure drafts of two proposed statements: Estimating the Historical Cost of General Property, Plant and Equipment and The Hierarchy of Generally Accepted Accounting Principles, Including the Application of Standards Issued by the Financial Accounting Standards Board.

The FMSB also issued a comment letter on its exposure draft about Accounting for Social Insurance, Revised. In general, the FMSB commended the board for continuing its deliberations on this most important topic and for its continuing efforts to ensure that reporting for social insurance is transparent and useful. However, the FMSB remains concerned that the positions taken by some of the board members find their basis in other than established accounting and reporting principles. Read more FMSB comment letters.

FASAB Issues Concept Statement

The Federal Accounting Standards Advisory Board (FASAB) has issued Statement of Federal Financial Accounting Concepts 6, Distinguishing Basic Information, Required Supplementary Information, and Other Accompanying Information. The Statement amends Statement of Federal Financial Accounting Concepts 2, Entity and Display, to provide guidance for use by the FASAB in determining whether information should be basic information, required supplementary information (RSI), or other accompanying information (OAI). Existing concepts provide the FASAB with guidance on what information should be reported to achieve the reporting objectives and identifies different methods that may be used to communicate it to readers, such as financial statements and management's discussion and analysis (MD&A). The Statement expands the existing conceptual framework to provide a process the FASAB may apply in selecting whether an item of information should be considered basic information, RSI, or OAI.

FederalNewsRadio - Federal CFO Insights - Kay Daly (GAO)

Kay Daly
Acting Director, Financial Management and AssuranceGovernment Accountability Office
February 18th and 25th, 2009

Status of Agencies' Efforts to Address Improper Payments
The Improper Payments Information Act (IPIA) of 2002 requires federal agencies to review all programs and activities annually, and identify those that may be susceptible to significant erroneous payments. Improper Payments include:
  • Payments that should not have been made;
  • Payments in an incorrect amount;
  • Payments to an ineligible recipient;
  • Payments for an ineligible service;
  • Duplicate payments;
  • Payments for services not received; and
  • Payments that do not account for credits or applicable discounts.

While agencies have made progress in the past few years, major challenges continue to hinder full reporting of improper payments information, including noncompliance issues and reported statutory or regulatory barriers.

Listen Here...

Monday, February 16, 2009

FederalNewsRadio - AGA - Your Money, Your Government

Intergovernmental Cooperation

Martin J. Benison - CGFM, Comptroller, Commonwealth of Massachusetts

David R. Bennett - CGFM, CPA, Director of Accounts and Budgets, Assistant County Mayor, Blount County, TN

Thomas N. Cooley - Chief Financial Officer, National Science Foundation

Jeanette Franzel - CGFM, CPA, Director, Financial Management and Assurance, Government Accountability Office

Intergovernmental revenue flows involve hundreds of billions of dollars per year. The finances of state, local and federal government are inextricably linked.

The financial challenges faced by the federal government have received increased scrutiny since the economy imploded in mid September. Challenges faced by state and local governments are also increasingly in the spotlight. With most states five months into their 2009 fiscal years, 18 states have already cut budgets. Sales tax revenues - the largest single source of state and local revenue - are showing dramatic erosion and retail sales are expected to remain sluggish as we enter an economic downturn that the Economist magazine projects will be long and severe.

This show will explore how a cohesive, intergovernmental response can be developed for dealing with the current economic downturn and other intergovernmental challenges.


Listen Here

Government Financial Management Conference Focuses on Accountability

Government financial management leaders offer tools, insights and successful practices aimed at achieving government transparency now

WASHINGTON, Feb. 16 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ --

WHAT: In light of the nation's long-term fiscal imbalance and other emerging 21st century challenges, all governments are in a period of profound transition. Government financial managers face an array of challenges and opportunities to enhance performance, ensure accountability and position the nation for the future. The Association of Government Accountants' (AGA) National Leadership Conference (NLC) will help government financial managers further develop the skills needed to provide this sought-after transparency.

The NLC will bring together more than 700 professionals from federal, state and local government, as well as private sector leaders, to discuss critical government financial management issues.

READ MORE...

Find the Conference Agenda Here...

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Citizen's Guide to the 2008 Federal Financial Report of the United States Government

This Citizen’s Guide (Guide) highlights important information contained in the 2008 Financial Report of the United States Government. The Secretary of the Treasury, Director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), and Acting Comptroller General of the United States believe that the information discussed in this Guide is important to all Americans.

READ THE REPORT HERE...


You will find more detail on these matters in the Financial Report. You are encouraged to explore the information it contains and to ask questions about how the Government manages taxpayers’ money. The 2008 Financial Report of the United States Government and other information about the nation’s finances are available at:

U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Financial Management Service,
http://www.fms.treas.gov/fr/index.html

OMB’s Office of Federal Financial Management,
http://www.whitehouse.gov/omb/financial/index.html

GAO,
http://www.gao.gov/financial/fy2008financialreport.html

Saturday, February 14, 2009

PostMaster General Addresses Subcomittee on Federal Financial Management About Poor Economic Forecast

STATEMENT OF POSTMASTER GENERAL/CEO JOHN E. POTTER BEFORE THE SUBCOMMITTEE ON FEDERAL FINANCIAL MANAGEMENT,GOVERNMENT INFORMATION, FEDERAL SERVICES, AND INTERNATIONAL SECURITY OF THE COMMITTEE ON HOMELAND SECURITY AND GOVERNMENTAL AFFAIRS UNITED STATES SENATE, JANUARY 28, 2009

Good afternoon, Mr. Chairman and members of the Subcommittee. I appreciate the opportunity to talk to you today about the state of the business at the United States Postal Service and the extraordinary nature of the challenges we are facing. Simply put, the Postal Service is in acute financial crisis.

READ MORE....

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Today's GAO Publication

The Government Accountability Office (GAO) today issued the following
Decisions and Opinions of the Comptroller General:

Appropriations Decisions:

B-317252, United States Capitol Police--Deployment of Personnel,
January 30, 2009http://www.gao.gov/decisions/appro/317252.htm

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

AGA Releases CPAG Report on XBRL Benefits in Grants Management

NEW! AGA Research Report: Grants Management: How XBRL Can Help:
Grants are a major conduit whereby the federal government provides funds to states and other recipients. The situation today is difficult for recipients because they have to manage multiple requirements, often for very similar grant programs, and there is no streamlined process for reporting the progress to the federal agency or agencies. Read the report.

Monday, February 09, 2009

Agencies get glimpse of the future of grants management

Agencies have been trying to streamline and improve the grants process for decades. There have been laws, administration initiatives and even grassroots efforts, but progress has been slow.

But now Tom Cooley, chairman of the Chief Financial Officer's Council's Grants Policy Committee, says there is more hope than ever that significant changes are coming to the processes that hand out more than $500 billion a year federal grants.

The policy committee developed a strategic plan in late fiscal 2008 and came out with an implementation plan a few months later.

Cooley, who also is the National Science Foundation's chief financial officer, says these two plans are setting the agenda of where agencies are going in the short, medium and long terms.

"The implementation plan is where the rubber meets road," he says. "We have products we are working on and we have a timetable to get to them. We will get many of the short-term ones done and out the door in the next year or two."

The implementation plan focuses on two main areas: streamlining the pre-award, post-award and audit processes, and improving overall grant stewardship.

Some of the short-term goals include establishing governmentwide guidance for grants payment standards, and developing uniform format for reporting performance on federally funded research projects.

The committee's mid-term goals include establishing governmentwide standards for format and content of grant and cooperative agreements as well as standards for audits of state and local governments and non-profits.

Long-term goals include developing a governmentwide grants management certification program, and a grants management workforce database, which captures and tracks employees performance and training.

Cooley says mid-term goals are 3-to-5 years out and long-term goals will take more than five years.

-Jason Miller, FederalNewsRadio.com
READ MORE...

Today's GAO Publications

The Government Accountability Office (GAO) today released the following report and correspondence:

Social Security Administration: Service Delivery Plan Needed to Address Baby Boom Retirement Challenges. GAO-09-24, January 9.
http://www.gao.gov/cgi-bin/getrpt?GAO-09-24
Highlights - http://www.gao.gov/highlights/d0924high.pdf

Aviation Security: TSA's Cost and Performance Study of Private-Sector Airport Screening. GAO-09-27R, January 9.
http://www.gao.gov/cgi-bin/getrpt?GAO-09-27R

Thursday, February 05, 2009

U.S. Department of Homeland Security Inspector General Reports and Resources Update

The DHS Office of the Inspector General released the following publications:

OIG-09-14 - Independent Auditors' Report on U.S. Customs and Border Protection's FY 2008 Consolidated Financial Statements (PDF, 29 pages - 518 KB)

PCIE/ECIE - Oversight of Gulf Coast Hurricane Recovery, A Semiannual Report to Congress, April 1, 2008 - September 30, 2008 (PDF, 92 pages - 27 MB)

Management of DHS International Activities and Interests

Today's GAO Publications

The Government Accountability Office (GAO) today released the following testimonies:

Troubled Asset Relief Program: Status of Efforts to Address Transparency and Accountability Issues, by Gene L. Dodaro, acting comptroller general, before the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs.
GAO-09-359T, February 5.
http://www.gao.gov/cgi-bin/getrpt?GAO-09-359T

Financial Regulation: A Framework for Crafting and Assessing Proposals to Modernize the Outdated U.S. Financial Regulatory System, by Gene L. Dodaro, acting comptroller general, before the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs.
GAO-09-349T, February 4.
http://www.gao.gov/cgi-bin/getrpt?GAO-09-349T

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

GAO Seeks Director, Financial Management & Assurance

JDG Associates, executive search consultants, has been retained by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) to identify candidates for the position of Director, Financial Management & Assurance (FMA). This position directs the GAO component responsible for financial management issues in civilian and independent agencies. FMA is currently responsible for conducting financial audits on the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, the Schedule of Federal Debt, the Internal Revenue Service, the Securities and Exchange Commission, and consolidated financial statements of the U.S. Government. Essential to this role is demonstrated experience in government audit standards, procedures, and internal controls.

Background:
The United States Government Accountability Office (GAO) is the agency that works for Congress and the American people. Congress mandates GAO to study the programs and expenditures of the federal government. GAO, commonly called the investigative arm of Congress or the Congressional Watchdog, is at the epicenter of government decision-making. It is independent and nonpartisan. The GAO studies how the federal government spends taxpayer dollars. It advises Congress and the heads of executive agencies about ways to make government more effective and responsive. GAO evaluates federal programs, audits federal expenditures, and issues legal opinions. When GAO reports its findings to Congress, it recommends actions. Its work leads to laws and acts that improve government operations, and saves billions of dollars.

The Financial Management and Assurance (FMA) team helps Congress ensure the full and effective implementation of the 1990 Chief Financial Officers Act, the 1994 Government Management Reform Act, the 1996 Federal Financial Management Improvement Act, and other crosscutting financial management legislation. A key driver of this work is the legislative requirement for GAO to audit the U.S. government’s annual financial statements and conduct other mandated financial audits. FMA also identifies opportunities for improving accountability for assets through our FSI security vulnerability assessments, forensic audits, and special investigations of areas of government operations that are vulnerable to fraud, waste, and abuse.

Position Duties:
Directs multiple FMA audit teams conducting financial statement audits of large and complex federal agencies and entities, as well as some smaller entities. Using thorough and expert knowledge of audit and accounting principles and standards, this individual participates fully in the planning, execution, and reporting for financial audits. Carries out assigned activities to improve the federal financial management infrastructure and the reliability of financial information

Assists the Managing Director in managing and planning all activities necessary to (1) establish priorities, (2) direct the preparation and execution of audits, (3) analyze audit/evaluation findings and prepare written products, (4) contribute to the professional development of audit staff and ensure that they are well trained, and (5) ensure effective accomplishment of assigned responsibilities and work priorities.

Directs the preparation and presentation of testimony for use at Congressional hearings.

Deadline:
To be considered, applications must be received no later than midnight, February 28, 2009.

Contact:

Joseph DeGioia
JDG Associates, Ltd.
1700 Research Boulevard
Rockville, MD 20850
301-340-2210
Email: degioia@jdgsearch.com

Today's GAO Publications

The Government Accountability Office (GAO) today released the following publications:

Federal Information System Controls Audit Manual (FISCAM).
GAO-09-232G, February 2009.
http://www.gao.gov/cgi-bin/getrpt?GAO-09-232G

Estimated Temporary Medicaid Funding Allocations Related to Section 5001 of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.
GAO-09-364R, February 4.
http://www.gao.gov/cgi-bin/getrpt?GAO-09-364R

FederalNewsRadio - CFO Insights - Tom Davis

The Honorable Tom DavisFormer Chair & Ranking Member, Committee on Oversight & Government Reform

The show's focus will be on the Obama administration's budget reform agenda and what it will take to secure Congressional support to achieve the agenda. Discussion highlights:
  • Federal spending accountability
  • Cutting federal spending on contractors by 10%
  • Improving the effectiveness of the government contracting process
  • Engaging the Hill in this reform initiative
  • Improving government efficiency and measuring its performance
  • Challenges facing the new Chief Performance Officer

Listen Here

Monday, February 02, 2009

GASB Seeks Information on OPED Implementers

The Governmental Accounting Standards Board (GASB) has dedicated a portion of its website to its other postemployment benefits (OPEB) standards. This section of the website, the Statements 43/45 Resource Center, includes a list of governments that have already implemented the standards. If your government has implemented Statement 43 or Statement 45 or if you know of one that has, please notify the GASB by contacting Kip Betz or by calling 203.956.5201.

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