Treasury antes up e-payments

The Treasury Department is working on a Web portal to help federal agencies conduct financial transactions online.

Pay.gov, which will be run by Treasury's Financial Management Service, will be a central location through which federal agencies can collect payments, submit forms and send bills. The portal also will provide authentication services for securing transactions.

The Department of Veterans Affairs and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms are part of a pilot program for Pay.gov.

Greg Till, senior financial program specialist at FMS and project leader for Pay.gov, said that the portal's creation was rooted deeply in the 1998 Government Paperwork Elimination Act, which requires agencies to accept forms electronically by 2003.

With FMS accepting hundreds of types of forms involving tens of billions of dollars for agencies, "we saw a problem," Till said. "Fundamentally, we saw we needed to take some steps."

The core of the approach was to offer electronic versions of financial lockbox services provided through FMS' financial agents and to take advantage of the GPEA to consolidate operations.

"We could have told these banks to go out there and solve the problem their way and bring us the bill," Till said. "But we figured that if we're going to build this thing, we should build it once instead of several times."

FMS officials hope to have core Pay.gov services up and running for everyone by year's end.

When finished, FMS expects Pay.gov to handle 80 million transactions worth $125 billion a year, with the reduced paperwork saving agencies an estimated 5 percent in processing costs.

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