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Tuesday, April 08, 2014

Familiar questions, few answers so far for OMB's latest financial systems effort

The departments of Commerce and Housing and Urban Development and the Coast Guard are planning to outsource their financial management systems in the coming year.

These three agencies have only one choice in how they modernize their financial management systems — through a federal shared services provider.

The Office of Management and Budget's March 2013 policycreated a federal first priority for agencies to modernize their financial management systems through a shared services provider.

But this second attempt by OMB to move agencies to financial management shared services is fraught with the same obstacles of a decade ago.

But OMB believes this attempt at shared services is different. The administration says budget concerns and technology advancements will help overcome these long- standing barriers.

OMB named five shared service providers under the Financial Management Line of Business initiative. With the exception of the Defense Finance and Accounting Service, the four civilian providers — the departments of Treasury, Transportation and Interior, and GSA — mostly found success with small and micro agencies.

But with agencies spending more than $8 billion a year on financial management systems and with more than 53,000 employees supporting those efforts, the opportunity to consolidate and simplify is great.
So administration officials say the time is right for a renewed push for shared services.

Three of the four current shared service providers for civilian agencies offer only Oracle's Federal Financial software.

GSA offers CGI's financial management software called Momentum. But industry and federal sources say GSA is likely to get out of the financial shared services this year.

Other agencies are using SAP, Savantage and other financial management software that meet federal standards.

Infor and Workday both offer software-as-a-service options for enterprise financial management services.

OMB and OFIT are close to naming new federal shared services providers, with at least one agency providing software that is not Oracle.

Federal News Radio's special series, Shared Services Revisited, looks at whether there still are too many unanswered questions that would doom shared services once again.

-Jason Miller, FederalNewsRadio.com

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