Bar raised for accounting software

Joint Financial Management Modernization Program Web site

Changes to a program for better federal financial management could make it harder to sell administrative software to the government.

The Joint Financial Management Improvement Program — an undertaking of four federal departments — is adding more criteria that sellers of accounting programs and other financial software must meet to qualify to sell to agencies.

"It answers the question, 'Does the software meet the core requirements we specify?' " said Stephen Balsam, a senior associate for the program. "After the last round of testing, we studied the process and came to the conclusion that we could test more thoroughly."

Government agencies must purchase software from a certified vendor if the application is being used to satisfy one of the financial management program's core requirements. If an agency has a requirement that is not in the core criteria, it can buy software from any company it chooses.

More criteria are being added as agencies contact program officials, Balsam said. Currently, qualified software must meet 1,500 benchmarks across several areas. So far, three companies — SAP AG, American Management Systems Inc. and Digital Systems Group Inc. — meet them.

Oracle Corp., PeopleSoft Inc. and Savantage Solutions Inc. are testing or are scheduled to test the products by the end of September.

Certification expires after three years to ensure that software keeps up with agencies' needs. "The fact that vendors have to take and pass these tests means they're getting educated," said Jeffrey Hoge, director of the Accounting Systems Division of the Treasury Department's Financial Management Service.

The program is a cooperative venture of Treasury, OMB, the General Accounting Office and the Office of Personnel Management.

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