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Tuesday, October 27, 2009

OMB wants better, faster, cheaper financial data

WILLIAMSBURG, Va. - The Obama administration has said little publicly about the assorted back office Lines of Business initiatives started under the Bush administration. Agencies and industry alike were left wondering what the plan was going forward, especially if consolidations with federal shared service providers still would be required.

At least for the financial management line of business, the Office of Management and Budget is offering some clarity.

Adam Goldberg, OMB's chief of the financial analysis and systems branch, says the LOB still is underway as it has been since 2003.

But OMB also has seen some additional potential improvements thanks to the Recovery Act.

"We have started to look at other opportunities where we could deliver financial management reforms probably a little earlier than we would be able to move all the agencies onto a consolidated financial system," says Goldberg at the 19th annual Executive Leadership Conference sponsored by IAC/ACT. "The direction we are going now is to continue with standardization and consolidation efforts and start to look at other solutions to deliver benefits to meet emerging needs like data and transparency reporting."

OMB believes the Recovery Act has shown that obtaining better and more accurate data more quickly is just the beginning.

"We want to look at other technology solutions to reduce the cost of transactions," he says. "We have to find ways to automate data from the time we get money from Congress until the time we spend it."

Goldberg adds that the Recovery Act has expanded who needs access to financial data.

"One of the things we are trying to do is understand how can we accelerate the capture and reporting of information and with Recovery Act and it's not just federal agencies that need to have access to the information to met reporting requirements, but we need to provide it out to state and localities and companies who are receiving monies under the Recovery Act to make sure they are able to fulfill the reporting requirements and make sure the numbers and reporting elements are in alignment with one another," he says.

Goldberg adds that OMB earlier in October issued the final set of standards so now agencies and industry have a complete set of financial management business process standards.

Along with these standards, agencies also received a common governmentwide accounting classification structure in 2008 to complete the updating of the federal financial management standards.

Goldberg says OMB now is leading an effort to make sure the common account classification structure and the business process standards align.

Goldberg adds that over the next six months OMB will finalize all the financial management information to ensure everything is aligned.

Vendor financial management system software providers eventually will have to meet the new standards.

As for the FM LOB, Goldberg says between 12 and 14 agencies have migrated to a shared service provider, including the Office of Personnel Management most recently.

-Jason Miller, WFED

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