OMB promotes fiscal cooperation

The Office of Management and Budget is encouraging the budget and financial management communities to cooperate as both move to consolidate and standardize under lines of business initiatives.

Budgeting and financial management have a relationship, said Andrew Schoenbach, chief of OMB’s Budget Systems Branch and policy lead of the Budget Formulation and Execution Line of Business consolidation initiative.

Federal budgeting decisions are made by a dynamic process driven by policy, then financial management ensures that individuals do what they say they will, he said at a conference today sponsored by the Association of Government Accountants’ Washington, D.C., chapter and the Greater Washington Society of Certified Public Accountants.

Under the Budget Formulation and Execution LOB, a working group has identified intersections between budgeting and financial management processes in an exposure draft of a Touch-Points document, he said. The group currently is mapping budget execution processes and data flow among agencies, the Treasury Department, OMB and Congress. The goal is to reach a governmentwide consensus process and data model to support the automated data exchange between budget execution and financial management systems.

The Touch-Points document is available at the MAX Federal Community, a wiki that is a key component in developing the Budget Formulation and Execution LOB. MAX has grown to 6,300 federal users. Originally it was for information and document sharing about budget formulation, but it has expanded to other subject communities, such as financial management, homeland security, human capital and performance.

Users can restrict information and documents to certain levels or categories of users, and  information can be repurposed across the communities by agency or govenrmentwide, Schoenbach said.

“It’s no effort, and it’s all there to use,” he said.

The budget LOB makes 10 capabilities available as common services, including agency budget tools, managing integration, analysis, data collection and tracking, collaboration, and document production. The Budget Formulation and Execution Manager is a shared budget formulation service among six agencies. The manager originally was a Treasury product, but it was modified to be more generic so it could be more widely used. A performance-measure manager module was added recently to establish and track performance metrics, Schoenbach said.

During the coming year, the agencies using the BFE Manager will establish a data transfer link with OMB’s PARTWeb system, which is used to track the Program Assessment Rating Tool performance information.

The MAX community is a repository of information and documents on budget and other subjects that will be critical for the next administration's transition team, he said. For federal employees, putting their information and documents on MAX will eliminate the uncertainty of determining who would be the correct person on the transition team to receive certain restricted information.

MAX also lets users perform network-like editing of files in Microsoft office applications, communications using threaded comments and indexed searches.

About the Author

Mary Mosquera is a reporter for Federal Computer Week.

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