AMS invests heavily in the fed financial market

Paul Brands, chief executive officer of American Management Systems Inc., may have been preaching to the choir at a recent user conference when he emphasized the company's commitment to the federal government market. Brands was speaking to about 600 AMS government users who had gathered in Washingt

Paul Brands, chief executive officer of American Management Systems Inc., may have been preaching to the choir at a recent user conference when he emphasized the company's commitment to the federal government market.

Brands was speaking to about 600 AMS government users who had gathered in Washington, D.C., late last month for the company's annual federal financial user conference. The CEO of the systems development and consulting company told the group that AMS has invested about $15 million in federal financial software products over the past five years and has more than 800 employees focused on the federal financial market.

"We have a long-standing commitment to this market, and we have invested heavily in this market," Brands said. He added that the government market, including federal, state and local, will represent about $400 million of the company's estimated $1 billion in revenue this year.

The company has built up its federal government business significantly since 1977, the year Brands joined the company. Now, about 45 agencies use AMS' Federal Financial System or Momentum Financials products.

Last summer the Defense Department awarded the company a $240 million contract to help develop its Standard Procurement System (SPS), a DOD-wide procurement automation program. To date, the system has been installed at 100 sites and is planned for a total of 800 locations over 10 years.

DOD will be using AMS' Procurement Desktop-Defense product to replace dozens of existing interfaces to financial, logistics and other DOD systems. SPS is the cornerstone of the department's paperless contracting effort.

"We think there are some very significant payoffs [to SPS]," Brands said. "The staff can do more than before. The performance is improved, and the interface with suppliers is much smoother."

He is equally positive about the state of agencies' financial systems despite the recent audit of the government's consolidated financial statement that turned up billions of dollars in discrepancies. Brands said users of AMS products are in "quite good shape in terms of understanding where the money is. I don't think the problem is there." Instead, he said, it is the systems that feed into the core financial systems— and lack of integration with the core system— that cause the problems.

"We and our software are able to help out and bring the broader [parts] of agencies to a level of confidence in financial management," Brands said. "The trend is there. We see down the road that [agencies] will have all their feeder systems in line."

Brands knows perhaps better than most CEOs how the government operates and what it needs. Before coming to AMS 21 years ago, Brands was deputy assistant administrator for the Office of Planning and Evaluation at the Environmental Protection Agency. Before that he served in the Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Systems Analysis.

"I have had an interesting career in that I worked for the federal government for 10 years, and I've been with AMS for the past 21. When I joined AMS, it did virtually no work with federal agencies. At that time, my challenge was to create a group which provided [information technology] services to the federal market," Brands said. "Over the years I think we have done that, and we continue to invest heavily in providing leading-edge solutions to this market."

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