Companies competing for FAS4T

The Administrative Office of the U.S Courts (AOUSC) this month chose Computer Data Solutions Inc.'s Business Applications Solutions Co. and American Management Systems to compete for the right to provide financial management system software in a procurement potentially worth about $20 million over 10 years.

The vendors will develop software for the Financial Accounting System for Tomorrow (FAS4T) which will provide standardized financial software to the courts nationwide and replace the courts' various distributed local systems.

FAS4T will reduce systems management and maintenance costs and provide consistent auditable and timely management of data. The system will support day-to-day court financial transactions and reporting and also provide periodic monitoring and reporting. The new system will track each court's budget and financial transactions. For example it will track payments to jurors produce bills manage receivables and maintain a general ledger at the court level for financial control.

"Right now there's not a good way for the local systems to communicate with the central financial system located in Washington D.C. " said Harry Barschdorf vice president in charge of AMS' federal financial and administrative systems practice area. "These local systems provide support to the courts but consolidation with the central system is difficult. The courts need a system that will support the overall judiciary."

The judiciary uses a mix of processes now including both automated and manual to send financial data from the field to the central office creating time delays Barschdorf said. The new financial management system which will provide a link to the core financial system at AOUSC is expected to simplify and speed up this process.

Ultimately the system will be installed nationwide to support more than 400 U.S. Courts operations.

The multiphase award process is somewhat unique for financial management system software said Stephen R. Van Meter group director at CDSI BAS. Under terms of the contract AMS and CDSI will provide the judiciary with copies of their off-the-shelf software. The companies will have 90 days to customize their products to meet specific judiciary requirements. The courts will then test and evaluate the products select a vendor and move forward with production and implementation. U.S. Courts officials declined to comment.Van Meter said because CDSI's product called "i.e. FARS " is CASE-tool developed "it will be easy to enhance it to meet the courts' needs."

He added that i.e. FARS which is in use at the Commerce and Education departments is flexible and can support a mix of different software and hardware combinations. "So if [AOUSC] hasn't finalized its technical architecture yet that's one of the plusses we can bring to them " he said.

AMS bid its Federal Financial System Program Office Desktop product a client/server software package based on object-oriented technology. The Interior Department and the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms are installing the software and the U.S. Courts uses a version of it as the basis of its mainframe-based core financial system.

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