OMB to agencies: Use business standards in new financial software

The Office of Management and Budget will require agencies to use governmentwide business standards when they upgrade their financial systems software and move to a public or private shared-services provider. OMB expects to release the memo the morning of Jan. 29.

Business standards, such as the common governmentwide accounting code and business processes, will be incorporated into existing core financial systems requirements under the Financial Management Line of Business, said Danny Werfel, OMB acting controller, in the memo, which Federal Computer Week obtained.

The Financial Systems Integration Office will test the standards during its software qualification and certification process. Once FSIO certifies that the software meets core financial systems requirements, agencies will be able to use the certified software only as configured with the finalized business standards. Agencies will have to adopt these standards when it moves to a shared-services provider.

“This policy is different from today’s practices that allow agencies and shared-service providers to deviate from the certified software configuration and thereby create different processes across the federal government,” he said in the memo, which also lays out the next phase of implementing FM LOB.

Through this year, OMB and FSIO will finalize the business standards for funds control, payment management, receivable management, reimbursables and reporting processes, and develop cost and performance measurements for them. The standards for funds control and payment management are about to be finalized. OMB and FSIO also will expand the current migration planning guidance to help agencies navigate the acquisition process for shared financial services, the memo states.

In 2009, OMB and FSIO will update testing methods for business standards in addition to testing scenarios. Financial system providers will integrate the business standards into their software in preparation for testing.

The requirements of FM LOB take effect when an agency is modernizing its system, Werfel said.

“In order to have agencies modernize to a lower-risk, lower-cost environment, we needed to standardize financial management core functions across government. That is a long-term proposition,” he said.

Under FM LOB, agencies will use common standards for financial business processes and financial data to make them more efficient, accountable and better able to compare data.

Agencies will compete their financial management systems among private and federal shared-services providers, which will provide information technology hosting, application management and system implementation services to agencies. Each shared-services provider will provide those services to multiple agencies using a common application to reduce the duplicative approaches currently used.

About the Author

Mary Mosquera is a reporter for Federal Computer Week.

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