OMB releases financial-management guidance

The Office of Management and Budget released updated guidance to clarify a roadmap for agencies moving to the financial management Line of Business. It includes a competitive framework, template for migration project plan, change management best practices and a menu of services that financial-management shared-service providers can deliver.

The Migration Planning Guidance, dated May 22, aims to answer procedural questions and provide insight when agencies conduct competitions for financial-management services from a public or private shared-service provider. The guidance is the first product related to OMB projects outlined in a December memo to encourage more transparency and standardization in federal financial-management systems and operations.

The guidance documents also contain draft performance measures, which should help agencies evaluate the various alternatives for financial-management systems and operations, said OMB controller Linda Combs. A template for a service-level agreement is designed to smooth agencies’ transition to a shared-service provider.

A later version of the guidance will provide a template for a sample request for proposals when foundation sections of the guidance are finalized, said Mary Mitchell, the General Services Administration’s deputy associate administrator for e-government and technology. She is also the executive of the Financial Systems Integration Office, which is coordinating with OMB on the guidance, and the FMLOB project manager.

“This public draft addresses many of the agency comments we received, especially those related to clarity and on the tools provided. A number of suggestions, especially those that are policy-related, continue to be under review and consideration,” she said in the guidance.

OMB and the FSIO will accept comments regarding the exposure draft version of the guidance through June 12.

The competition framework aims to help agencies conduct competitions between public and private shared-service providers for their financial-management services “in an impartial and transparent manner,” according to the documents.

Under provisions of the guidance, agencies are to conduct public-private competitions and migrations as directed in OMB Circular A-76 for activities performed by more than 10 full-time federal employees. Agencies should consult with OMB if they need to veer from that directive. OMB has provided alternatives where agencies use fewer than 10 employees.

The documents also guide agencies to “hold the selected provider accountable for results through an appropriate implementation structure.” Federal Acquisition Regulations govern if an agency selects a vendor. That means the customer agency must have a quality assurance surveillance plan in place and a team to implement it and continuously evaluate the contractor’s performance.

If the agency chooses a federal center of excellence, the customer agency and federal service provider sign an interagency agreement clearly identifying the workload, performance levels, cost and quality assurance plan.

Performance metrics include those to measure quality, cost, schedule, unplanned downtime, help desk volume reduction over time and percent of financial transactions with errors.

The hope is that performance measures will keep track of important things and that active management on both sides provide a framework for success, Mitchell has said previously.

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