Agencies seek data exchange standards

Working group collaborates and shares documents in a wiki as they develop standards for formulating federal agency budgets

Federal officials say they hope to reach consensus on a governmentwide process and data model to support automated data exchanges between information systems that perform budget execution functions and those that handle financial management.

The Office of Management and Budget and the Treasury Department are mapping the intersections of budgeting and financial management processes in preparation for having systems share data. Their objective is to improve business processes as agencies consolidate and standardize operations under various line-of-business initiatives.

A working group under the Budget Formulation and Execution Line of Business initiative has identified where budgeting and financial management processes intersect and need improvements, said Andrew Schoenbach, chief of OMB’s Budget Systems Branch and policy leader of the initiative.

He said the working group is using the MAX Federal Community, a wiki established for the initiative, to facilitate collaboration. Participants include representatives from OMB, Treasury and the Financial Management Line of Business.

Schoenbach spoke May 8 at a conference sponsored by the Association of Government Accountants’ Washington Chapter and the Greater Washington Society of Certified Public Accountants.

Budgeting and financial management have interdependent processes for apportionment, allotment, accounting and funds control, said David Harmon, a computer specialist in OMB’s Budget Review Division. “We want to have systems that can talk with each other,” he said.

Many parties are already exchanging data through various systems, said Holden Hogue, director of the Accounting Systems and Standards Directorate in Treasury’s Financial Management Service.

Hogue said the working group will define data standards and compile documentation to help agencies understand governmentwide accounting standards.

Communication is critical, he said. “We’re beginning to open doors that were not opened before.”
Members of the working group say they hope to finish the process-mapping phase later this month and make it available for comment.

Data exchange standards should be completed in June or July.

“By the end of the year, we hope we will be able to pull key information for Treasury and OMB reporting,” Hogue said. 

About the Author

Mary Mosquera is a reporter for Federal Computer Week.

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