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U.S. Department of State

Diplomacy in Action

Financial Management Plans and Reports


Bureau of the Comptroller and Global Financial Services
Report
November 16, 2012

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Overview

Introduction

The Department of State's financial activities operate in approximately 270 locations in 180 countries. We conduct business transactions in over 135 currencies and even more languages and cultures. Hundreds of financial and management professionals around the globe allocate, disburse, and account for billions of dollars in annual appropriations, revenues, and assets. Among the Department's customers are 45 U.S. Government agencies in every corner of the world, served twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week.

In FY 2012 the Department reorganized the Bureau of Resource Management into two separate bureaus--the Bureau of the Comptroller and Global Financial Services (CGFS) headed by the Department's Comptroller and the Bureau of Budget and Planning (BP). These two new entities each report to the Under Secretary for Management, who under the new organization takes on the designation of Chief Financial Officer.

CGFS has overall responsibility for financial systems, reporting and internal controls, global financial operations and services, and interagency administrative support cost sharing related to overseas missions. CGFS also produces a number of essential documents, in particular the Department's Annual Financial Statements. CGFS employs over 400 people around the globe, primarily in Washington, Charleston, South Carolina and Bangkok, Thailand. CGFS' services to its customers are critical to carry out the Department's mission effectively.

The CGFS management team and staff have a proven record of outstanding achievement as evidenced by (but not limited to):

  • Successful implementation of new financial management systems;
  • Successful implementation of a grading system to measure transparency and quality of budget requests for all interagency activities at post (ICASS);
  • Growth in requests for and use of the Post Support Unit as a centralized financial processing unit for overburdened post financial management staff; and
  • Implementation of Quality Management System under ISO 9001 standards and Capability Maturity Model Integration (CMMI) frameworks for core financial operations and systems.

CGFS efforts are guided by two overarching goals: providing world class financial services that support strategic decision-making, mission performance, and improved accountability and transparency to the American people; and supporting the achievement of Department and other agency strategic goals by enabling interagency planning and coordination. Performance measures related to these goals include timely financial reporting, elimination of material weaknesses in internal control, the achievement of unqualified ("clean") audit opinions, elimination of improper payments, and implementing financial systems and processes that meet Federal requirements. In addition to these, CGFS endeavors to consolidate and standardize financial operations, leverage best business practices and electronic technologies, and build a first-rate finance team.

FY 2012 Results

Providing World Class Customer Service.

Central to our vision of a premier, global financial system is the worldwide cadre of financial managers who rely on our financial systems to conduct the Department's business and support bureau missions. It is critical our systems meet the needs of this diverse customer base. Product review groups have been instituted to better enable us to work with our customer base, identifying priorities for improvements to systems, associated business processes, and support mechanisms.

We continue to receive high marks on the Overseas Customer Survey. Overall satisfaction with financial applications rose to 86 percent in 2012 from 85 percent in 2011. Consolidated Overseas Accountability Support Toolbox (COAST) reporting remains the leader in customer satisfaction, with 94 percent of respondents reporting favorably (up from 90 percent in 2011). COAST Encryption showed the greatest improvement, rising eight percentage points from 85 percent to 93 percent. In FY 2012, CGFS for the first time conducted a Domestic Customer Survey in an effort to improve its service to users of a broad range of resource management systems. The overall satisfaction rate of 78 percent provides a baseline for ongoing discussions and future surveys.

Implementing Resource Management Systems and Processes that Meet Federal Requirements.

To further improve controls and the accuracy of financial transactions which reference funding across our regional and domestic systems, a multi-phase project to provide real time integration between the Global Financial Management System (GFMS) and Regional Financial Management System (RFMS) was started in fiscal year 2011. This integration will eliminate complex, offline interfaces; ensure timely fiscal data and funds availability checks; and improve operational efficiency by avoiding costly rework generated by rejected batch transactions.

The first phase of this project was to integrate GFMS invoices, payments, direct disbursements to other agencies, and Working Capital Fund (WCF) charges. As transactions are entered in GFMS, real time referencing occurs verifying funding and accounting information. If the RFMS obligation does not have sufficient funds or the accounting information does not match, the document will not process.

The second phase of this project was to integrate GFMS contracts/delivery orders referencing overseas funding. As transactions are entered in GFMS, real time processing occurs in RFMS to record obligations in RFMS. If the RFMS obligation does not process, the GFMS contract/delivery order will not process. This functionality will be tested in a pilot phase in the first quarter of FY 2013.

When the Global Financial Management System (GFMS) was implemented in 2007, migration of accounts receivable from the existing legacy system (Domestic Accounts Receivable Tracking System - DARTS) was excluded to mitigate risk and keep the implementation scope manageable. Momentum Accounts Receivable was implemented in January of 2012. It eliminated the custom DARTS interface and provided a cohesive fully integrated accounts receivable capability.

Standardized Solutions Supported by a Global Architecture Framework.

FY 2012 also saw continued focus on consolidation of financial and other administrative systems as part of our ongoing efforts to standardize resource management systems, provide consistency across applications, and uniformly apply best practices for development and maintenance of our critical support systems.

COAST is an overseas application suite which is deployed to more than 180 posts around the world as well as Department of State and other agency headquarters offices domestically. COAST provides a consolidated solution to capture and maintain accurate, meaningful financial information, and provide it to decision makers in a timely fashion. The current COAST suite consists of COAST Reporting, COAST Encryption, and COAST Cashiering.

COAST Encryption replaces the Electronic Certification System (ECS) to provide the security necessary to protect digitally transmitted data. It enhances the security and protection of the transmitted data, and consolidates another post-level application into the COAST application suite. The global deployment of COAST Encryption was completed in the fourth quarter of FY 2012.

COAST Cashiering, the latest major enhancement to the COAST suite, will replace the legacy WinACS cashiering system. It improves upon the core functionality of WinACS including improved security for cashiering activities by enforcing greater adherence to the Department's Foreign Affairs Manual and Foreign Affairs Handbook regulations and providing greater controls to financial management officers overseas. As part of the COAST suite of applications, COAST Cashiering seamlessly integrates with COAST Encryption, streamlining the certification, encryption, and submission of Cashiering transactions to the Global Financial Service Centers. Pilots have been completed in Rome, Buenos Aires, Copenhagen, Berlin, Bangkok, and Beijing. Full deployment is targeted to start in the first quarter of FY 2013.

GFMS established the Planning and Budgeting Line of Business (PBLoB) as the organizational element to define and implement strategies to provide solutions for standardized, consolidated, and simplified systems for Department-wide budget formulation, planning, and execution. In the near term, this organization oversees the Department's Central Resource Management System (CRMS), the Resource Allocation and Budget Integration Toolkit (WebRABIT) and the International Cooperative Administrative Support Services (ICASS) system.

CRMS was brought into CGFS' existing portfolio of systems, incorporating each into CGFS's disciplined and certified system development and maintenance organization. CRMS is used by all bureaus to receive allotment notifications. Many bureaus use the application's Budget Resource Management System (BRMS) component to allot funds to posts and internal domestic organizations. The Bureau of Budget and Planning (BP) uses the system to provide internal controls over all of the Department's budget authority distribution, as well as collect reimbursement documentation, plan operating account usage, and forecast the impact of foreign currency exchange rates on annual financial plans.

WebRABIT is an application used by all the regional bureaus for program and Public Diplomacy execution year budgets at their posts. Functionality was added to include the Bureau of Consular Affairs to collect FY 2013 budgets for their planning of four separate funds. WebRABIT also provides functionality for post spreading of resources by program and theme for Public Diplomacy funding, as well as providing Overseas Buildings Operations with functionality for domestic multi-year budgeting.

The ICASS or WebICASS system is the principal means by which the U.S. Government provides and shares the cost of common administrative support at its more than 270 diplomatic and consular posts overseas. The Department of State is the primary service provider and it offers these administrative support services to other agencies under its non-Economy Act authorities contained in 22 U.S.C. 2695 and 2684. In FY 2012, we implemented the first stage of a strategy to rebuild the ICASS Software Platform to better meet the needs of its post and agency users. This first phase was completed in June 2012 and will operate as a stand-alone application at post. It will include a new user interface to facilitate navigation through the application, new cost centers for Diplomatic Security (DS) residential guards, and technical architecture upgrades.

Leveraging Best Business Practices and E-Government.

The Global eTravel initiative achieved significant migration success in FY 2012 by continuing to expand the use of a web-based commercially available off-the-shelf (COTS) system software. As of September 2012, all domestic bureaus and 180 posts have been migrated. These entities collectively generate over 99 percent of the Department's temporary duty (TDY) travel volume. In the last 12 months, twelve customer-driven enhancements were delivered with new software releases. The Department worked with the Global eTravel vendor and other agencies to identify user interface changes to the system. In February 2012, the resulting version 11.3 of the Global eTravel system introduced a new look and feel to the application, one that was more intuitive and user-friendly than earlier versions. Resources are now focused on leveraging the COTS software to automate the Department's local travel reimbursement process.

The Department continued to make significant progress migrating to a Grants Management Line of Business (GMLoB) solution in FY 2012. The OMB's lines of business initiative seeks to cut costs and improve service by consolidating computer networks and functions into a few agencies that would act as service providers to other agencies. Implementation of the Department of Health and Human Services' (HHS) GrantSolutions system as the single, standard system for the Department will replace the collection of separate, stovepipe Federal assistance systems used across the Bureaus. Internally, we refer to this system as the State Assistance Management System (SAMS).

During FY 2012, the Department expanded deployment to eighteen bureaus. By the end of FY 2013 the Department anticipates deployment of SAMS to approximately nine additional bureaus and offices. The result is a single automated system that is integrated with the GFMS. It will standardize the Department's assistance-related business process from solicitation through award and close-out ensuring a high degree of consistency and manageability as well as compliance with key U.S. Government initiatives such as Grants.gov and GMLoB and reporting requirements such as the Federal Funding Accountability and Transparency Act of 2006 (FFATA) and the Federal Assistance Award Data System (FAADS). Requirements analysis is to begin in FY 2013 for overseas use of SAMS. A pilot overseas implementation may occur in FY 2014, with deployments targeted for FY 2015.

Photo showing the new embassy in Libreville, Gabon, completed in July 2012. It was constructed on a 10-acre site. This striking Chancery design is metal in white granite. The compound is richly landscaped with native trees and plants accentuated by lighting.

The new embassy in Libreville, Gabon, completed in July 2012, was constructed on a 10-acre site. This striking Chancery design is metal in white granite. The compound is richly landscaped with native trees and plants accentuated by lighting. Department of State/OBO

The Department continued to execute a phased deployment strategy that - when completed - will completely replace six legacy payroll systems with a single, COTS-based solution that is better suited to address the widely diverse requirements of the Department and the other 45 civilian agencies that rely on the Department for overseas payroll. Not only will the Global Foreign Affairs Compensation System (GFACS) address common requirements in a more consistent and efficient manner, it will leverage a rules-based, table-driven architecture to promote compliance with the statutory differences found across the Foreign and Civil Service Acts and, perhaps more importantly, the local laws and practices applicable to the many countries in which civilian agencies operate.

December 2010 saw the first phase of GFACS placed into production with the implementation of the Foreign Service Annuitant payroll, replacing the legacy Foreign Affairs Retirement and Disability System (FARADS). Beginning calendar year 2011, 16,000 Foreign Service Annuitants and their beneficiaries have been paid monthly as a result of pension processing in GFACS. In addition to leveraging GFACS for our Foreign Service retirees, we continue working on the next phases, with a first quarter pilot planned for the Locally Employed (LE) Staff module. Subsequent efforts will focus on American payroll and Time and Attendance (T&A) reporting.

In FY 2011, the Sofia Post Support Unit (PSU) was opened. The PSU supports financial processing operations at posts abroad, remotely taking on the lower level financial transaction processing work for a post and allowing at-post financial management personnel to perform higher value-added and location- specific tasks. With the addition of the Sofia PSU, CGFS has further expanded its capabilities to provide centralized processing services to support additional posts and enable the wholesale systematic consolidation of some financial processes. In FY 2013 and beyond, CGFS will continue to expand its centralized processing services to support additional posts and wholesale systematic consolidation of some financial processes.

The International Cooperative Administrative Support Services (ICASS) system began transition to a centrally hosted system by separating from the Post Administrative Support System. As a first step, this required installing a separate instance of upgraded software at every ICASS post.

Looking Forward.

CGFS will continue to work to ensure fundamental financial management "compliance" results - on time, accurate financial statements that achieve an unqualified ("clean") audit opinion, financial systems and processes that meet Federal requirements, and effective internal controls.

OMB continues its initiative to standardize government-wide business processes to address the Federal government's long-term need to improve financial management and assist agencies in substantially complying with the Federal Financial Management Improvement Act (FFMIA). Also, over the next several years, a number of new Federal accounting and information technology standards will become effective. These include government-wide projects to standardize business requirements and processes, establish and implement a government-wide accounting classification, and support the replacement of financial statement and budgetary reporting to the Department of the Treasury. The Department's implementation of new standards and government-wide reporting will strengthen both our financial and information technology management practices.

In FY 2013, CGFS will test the submission of the new bulk files for the Government-wide Treasury Account Symbol Adjusted Trial Balance System (GTAS) in preparation for the first live submission in December 2013. CGFS will also modify transaction posting rules to capture Business Event Type Codes (BETC) for submission on payment files to meet the Payment Application Modernization (PAM) reporting requirements. To support the President's initiative to enhance payment accuracy and reduce improper payments, CGFS will be transmitting vendor and payment files to the "Do Not Pay" portal to identify vendor payments that should not be sent to Treasury. GTAS will replace the FACTS I, FACTS II, IFCS, and IRAS reporting systems as the primary means of reporting agency trial balance data. A single data collection system will pave the way for more consistent and complete financial data and will allow for better analytical reporting.

CGFS will also undertake activities that support effective strategic decision-making and mission performance. These activities include strengthening the Department's financial management analytic capabilities. With its financial data warehouse, CGFS will work to expand its analytical capability to provide the Department's senior management with timely and thorough financial/cost analysis to support funding decisions. At a time when the U.S. Government is facing a significant deficit, the Department will undoubtedly be faced with some difficult choices over critical but competing priorities. Having the Comptroller establish or independently verify the fully loaded costs of programs or initiatives, with affordable cost alternatives and expected results, will be essential in maximizing the effectiveness of the Department's funding. This ability to better quantify costs with results will also bolster the Department's credibility with Congress and OMB.

Our long-term goal for resource management is a standardized and integrated set of worldwide systems that support process improvement and uniform delivery of timely, accurate, and meaningful information. We want to do this in an incremental way that builds on our successes. For our corporate resource management system investments, OMB has reviewed and approved our approach as part of its review of all agency financial system investments across the Federal Government.

We have embarked on a multi-year effort to consolidate resource management systems within CGFS and specifically within the CGFS/DCFO systems area. This includes budget systems, cost distribution systems, and post-level applications that were developed independently in the past. Ultimately, we expect our resource management systems to:

  • Meet user requirements;
  • Share a common platform and architecture;
  • Reflect rationalized standard business processes;
  • Be developed using CMMI similar to ISO 9000; and
  • Be compliant, controlled and secure.

In FY 2013, CGFS financial system initiatives include:

  • COTS Software Update - Global Financial Management System (GFMS). Each year CGI Federal (CGI), the vendor of Momentum the commercially available off-the-shelf system (COTS) software for GFMS, releases a new version of Momentum. The Momentum releases include functionality to meet new mandatory Federal requirements, technology framework improvements, and enhancements that the user community has ranked as high priority. Currently, GFMS operates on release 6.0.9 and will be updated to release 7.0 in FY 2013. In order to update GFMS from release 6.0.9 to release 7.0, various implementation tasks were completed. In FY 2012, the functional and technical impacts of the Momentum enhancements were analyzed, changes to configuration settings were documented, Quality Work Instructions were updated, and changes to interfaces, reports, extracts, and utilities were developed and tested to make them 7.0 compatible. Enhancements were made to user input screens to remove unused fields and rearrange fields to improve the data entry process. Performance load tests were executed to identify and resolve any performance processing issues.
  • Integration Improvements. Through the GFMS/RFMS Virtual Merge initiative, CGFS will continue to leverage the Momentum platform's integration software tools to improve business processes and lower the total cost of ownership of its financial systems. The next phase of the project will integrate GFMS and RFMS for vendor information and obligation documents. As GFMS references overseas allotments, the vendor and the obligation will be processed in RFMS automatically through the integration framework. We are also planning next steps for the integration of the Department's Integrated Logistics Management Systems (ILMS) with RFMS, and have a standard procurement-to-pay business model.
  • COAST Offerings. Full deployment of cashiering is targeted to start in the first quarter of FY 2013. The implementation of COAST Payroll Reporting (CPR) is targeted to start in the third quarter of FY 2013. It will streamline the existing payroll report preparation process, and provide comprehensive payroll expenditure reporting capabilities.

Work will continue on deployment of the Global Foreign Affairs Compensation System (GFACS) deployment. Next will be the payroll module for Locally Employed (LE) Staff, with pilots scheduled to begin in calendar year 2012. As part of the GFACS investment, we also plan to implement the GFACS American payroll module, currently scheduled to occur in FY 2014. Looking out further, a new web-based global Time and Attendance (T&A) product that has the capability of electronic routing, signature, and self-service features is scheduled for later in FY 2014.

Financial Management Systems

Through the Joint Financial Management System Program, the Department is integrating its overseas and domestic financial operations onto a common, global financial management software platform in Charleston, South Carolina. This is dramatically improving operations and reducing costs by eliminating system redundancies and replacing obsolete and unsupported financial systems. It is also providing the infrastructure for integrating other administrative activities within the Department, such as the Integrated Logistics Management System, Global eTravel, State Assistance Management System, and other domestic and post-level systems. The diagram below depicts the state of our vision, a virtual global financial management system.

The common platform underlying the Department's global financial management solution is CGI-Federal's Momentum™ financial management system. This solution uses the same software and technical platform to support the Global Financial Management System (GFMS) domestically, the Regional Financial Management System (RFMS) overseas, and USAID's Phoenix financial management system. With the completion of Global Direct Connect in FY 2011, State has achieved a single integrated view of financial data through data standardization, common business processes, and the seamless exchange of information through the Department's financial and administrative sectors. The GFMS and RFMS components of State's solution are further described below.

Global Financial Management System.

The Global Financial Management System (GFMS) centrally accounts for billions of dollars recorded through over 5 million annual transactions by 1000+ users and over 25 "handshakes" with other internal and external systems.

GFMS is critical to State's day-to-day operations. The GFMS supports execution of State's mission by effectively accounting for business activities and recording associated financial information, including obligations and costs, performance, financial assets, and other data. It supports the Department's domestic offices and serves as State's repository of corporate data.

Regional Financial Management System.

RFMS is the global accounting and disbursing system that has been implemented for posts around the world. RFMS includes a common accounting system for funds management, obligation and voucher processing; the RFMS/D system to provide disbursing services; and the Consolidated Overseas Accountability Support Toolbox (COAST) post-based system for analysis, reporting and other post-level activities. The system incorporates State's standard account structure and improves transaction standardization and timeliness between post and headquarters, which results in the consistent, timely processing and recording of financial data on a worldwide basis.

Financial Management Information to Improve Decision Making.

With the consolidation and streamlining of our worldwide financial systems operations, the ability to capture and maintain accurate, meaningful financial information, and provide it to decision makers in a timely fashion, has vastly improved.

To support overseas financial management officers and post decision makers, COAST reporting was implemented in late FY 2006. In subsequent years, improvements were added to provide the capability to develop budget plans and monitor execution of those plans. Improvements were also made to the information "drill down" to allow significant flexibility in filtering and summarizing financial transactions. CGFS continues to enhance its COAST reporting tool, which provides daily updates on all financial transactions to more than 180 posts overseas and domestic bureaus, allowing them to analyze, and "slice and dice" their financial data for local reporting purposes using modern reporting and query tools on their local workstation. Coast Payroll Reporting (CPR) will allow for access to payroll specific data at the post and bureau level, and will take advantage of COAST's existing "drill down" and other reporting functionality. This will give Department financial managers far greater insight into payroll costs, including providing detailed reporting on overtime and other premium pay types.

Domestically, and in support of Department-wide reporting, the GFMS Data Warehouse was implemented in FY 2007. Based on a modern, browser-based technology platform, the GFMS Data Warehouse enables users to access financial information from standard, prepared reports or customize queries and reports in real time to compile the financial information needed for informed decision making on a day-to-day basis. The GFMS Data Warehouse also provides, on a daily basis, critical financial information to the Department's Enterprise Data Warehouse. In addition to adding and improving reports and queries, managerial cost accounting and acquisitions reporting modules have been added to the GFMS Data Warehouse since its inception. In FY 2012, an accounts receivable module was added and the first executive-level dashboards were introduced. Plans for FY 2013 include expanding available content and further enhancing management reporting capabilities, including new bureau manager-level dashboard reporting and a new travel dashboard/reporting module. Development for upgrades to more current technology platforms was conducted in FY 2012, with implementation scheduled for FY 2013. The GFMS Data Warehouse will also implement changes required to comply with changes made with the GFMS Momentum Update.

 




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