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Diplomacy in Action

Financial Management Systems Summary


Bureau of the Comptroller and Global Financial Services
Report
December 16, 2013

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Introduction

The financial activities of the Department of State (the Department or DOS) occur 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 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

The Department's 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 the agency's 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 resource management systems and processes that meet Federal requirements. In addition, the Department endeavors to consolidate and standardize financial operations, leverage best business practices and electronic technologies, and build a first-rate finance team.

The nonprofit independent firm that conducts the Department's annual survey of overseas users of resource management systems is one of the leading proponents of benchmarking and best practices in business research. The firm noted that the Department's Bureau of the Comptroller and Global Financial Services (CGFS) set its overall performance target for customer satisfaction at 80 percent for all services, a goal considerably higher than what many Government agencies and private sector financial institutions achieve. Not only has CGFS set such high goals, it has consistently surpassed these marks for overall satisfaction and satisfaction with the majority of its individual applications.

Continued standardization and consolidation of financial activities and leveraging investments in financial systems to improve our financial business processes will lead to greater efficiencies and effectiveness. A key element to achieve improved efficiencies and controls in our financial management processes will be our efforts to standardize financial business processes and consolidate financial services. This change is not always easy with the decentralized post-level financial services model that exists for the Department's worldwide operations. In addition, over the next several years, we will need to effectively leverage upgrades in our core financial system software, new locally employed (LE) staff and American payroll and time and attendance (T&A) deployments, new cashiering system deployment and integrations/interfaces with other Department corporate systems to improve our processes and support of financial operations.

We have made significant progress in modernizing and consolidating Department resource management systems. CGFS' financial systems development activities are now operated under Capability Maturity Model Integration (CMMI) industry standards. We have pushed to consolidate Department resource systems to the CGFS platform with the goals of meeting user requirements, sharing a common platform and architecture, reflecting rationalized standard business processes, and ensuring secure and compliant systems. OMB has reviewed our core financial systems plans as part of their U.S. Government-wide review of major financial system investments. OMB resoundingly approved our investment path and segmented delivery approach. We have embarked on a multi-year effort to consolidate resource management systems to CGFS, specifically within the Global Financial Management Systems Directorate. This includes budget systems such as the Bureau of Budget and Planning's (BP) Central Resource Management System (CRMS) and Budget Resource Management System (BRMS), International Cooperative Administrative Support Services (ICASS), and Resource Allocation and Budget Integration Toolkit (WebRABIT), which were developed independently in past years. We expect our financial systems to meet user and Federal requirements, share a common platform and architecture, reflect rationalized standard business processes, be developed using CMMI, and be compliant, controlled, and secure.

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, many driven by the Department of Treasury, 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. The Department's implementation of new standards and Government-wide reporting will strengthen both our financial and information technology management practices.

The Department uses multiple financial management systems that are critical to effective agency-wide financial management, financial reporting, and financial control. These systems are included in various programs. An overview of these programs follows.

Financial Systems Program

The financial systems program includes the Global Financial Management System (GFMS), the Regional Financial Management System (RFMS), and the Consolidated Overseas Accountability Support Toolbox (COAST).

The Global Financial Management System. GFMS centrally accounts for billions of dollars recorded through over 5 million annual transactions by more than 1,000 users and over 25 "handshakes" with other internal and external systems. GFMS is critical to the Department's day-to-day operations. It supports the execution of DOS' mission by effectively accounting for business activities and recording the associated financial information, including obligations and costs, performance, financial assets, and other data. It supports the Department's domestic offices and serves as the agency's repository of corporate data.

GFMS is based on commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) software with updated annual releases. In June 2013, an update of GFMS was launched to all Department users, providing over 150 enhancements. The update also eliminated numerous costly customizations which will result in lower maintenance costs.

The Regional Financial Management System. RFMS is the global accounting and payment system that has been implemented for posts around the world. RFMS includes a common accounting system for funds management, and obligation and voucher processing. In FY 2013, CGFS started a multi-year project to update RFMS to the newest release. The RFMS update is scheduled for an FY 2015 second quarter implementation.

Through the GFMS/RFMS Virtual Merge initiative, the Department continues to leverage the MomentumTM platform's integration software tools to improve business processes and lower the total cost of ownership of its financial systems. The agency also expanded the integration between GFMS and RFMS for vendor information and obligation documents.

The Consolidated Overseas Accountability Support Toolbox. COAST is an application suite deployed to more than 180 posts around the world as well as to Department of State and other agency headquarters offices domestically. COAST captures and maintains accurate, meaningful financial information, and provides it to decision makers in a timely fashion. The current COAST suite consists of COAST Reporting, COAST Encryption, COAST Cashiering, and COAST Payroll Reporting.

COAST Cashiering is replacing the legacy Windows Automated Cashiering System (WinACS). It improves on 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. The global deployment of COAST Cashiering is ongoing. COAST Cashiering has been successfully deployed in 20 posts at the close of FY 2013. Deployment to additional posts will continue in FY 2014.

Planning and Budget Program

In FY 2013, the Department initiated a consolidated Next Generation Budgeting System to standardize, consolidate, and simplify the budgeting systems currently used. The first phase of the project will be the replacement of the CRMS, a legacy system that dates from 1999. Other budget systems are the WebRABIT and ICASS systems identified earlier.

CRMS processes apportionments, warrants, non-expenditure transfers, fund allocations, and reimbursement agreements, which are interfaced into the Department's accounting system. It is used by all bureaus and missions to receive allotment notifications. BP uses the system for financial planning of the Department's operating accounts. The next major release, scheduled for the first quarter of FY 2014, will further increase compliance with the controls established in National Institute of Standards and Technology's Special Publication 800-53, Recommended Securing Controls for Federal Information Systems and Organizations.

WebRABIT is an application used by all the regional bureaus for program and Public Diplomacy execution year budgets at their posts. In FY 2013, functionality was added to allow overseas missions to incorporate, in their budget planning and execution, funding that involves the Bureau of Consular Affairs and the Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs.

The ICASS or WebICASS system is the principal means by which the U.S. Government shares the cost of common administrative support at its more than 270 diplomatic and consular posts overseas. The Department has statutory authority to serve as the primary overseas service provider to other agencies. In FY 2013, CGFS continued developing and testing new software to transition to a centrally hosted system.

Travel Program

The E-Gov Travel Service (ETS), including the second generation ETS2 system, is a Government-wide, web-based, world-class travel management service, launched in 2003 to save significantly on costs and improve employee productivity. It serves as the gateway to optimize the Government's scale and full market leverage to lower travel costs. ETS serves as the backbone of GSA's managed travel programs providing access to air, car, and lodging as well as the foundation for implementing a shared service for civilian agency travel management.

During FY 2013, the Department focused on evolutionary changes to its web-based COTS software that improves the user interface and incorporates additional Department requirements in the COTS package. As of September 2013, all domestic bureaus and 180 posts have been migrated.

Grants Program

The Department continued to make significant progress migrating to a Grants Management Line of Business solution in FY 2013. OMB's line of business initiative seeks to cut costs and improve service by consolidating computer networks and functions into a few agencies that act as service providers to other agencies. Implementation of the Department of Health and Human Services' GrantSolutions system as the single, standard system at the Department will replace the collection of separate, stovepipe Federal assistance systems used across the agency. Internally, we refer to this system as the State Assistance Management System (SAMS).

During FY 2013, the Department expanded deployment to 24 bureaus. By the end of FY 2014, the Department will have expanded deployment to the remaining two additional bureaus. The result will be a single, automated system that is integrated with the GFMS. SAMS will standardize the Department's assistance-related business process from solicitation through award and close-out thereby ensuring a high degree of consistency and manageability. In addition, Department-wide deployment will bring about compliance with key U.S. Government initiatives such as Grants.gov and reporting requirements such as the Federal Funding Accountability and Transparency Act of 2006 and the Federal Assistance Award Data System. Requirements analysis is to begin in FY 2014 for overseas use of SAMS.

Compensation Program

The Department continued to execute a phased deployment strategy as depicted in the diagram below that, when completed, will completely replace eight legacy payroll systems with a single, COTS-based solution 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 sometimes varying statutes 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.

The GFACS LE staff payroll module was implemented in December 2012 with Guatemala as the first converted country. Twenty-five additional countries are planned for conversion in CY 2013. The Department plans to have all countries converted to GFACS by early CY 2015.

The last pay module to be implemented in GFACS is American payroll. It is currently scheduled for full implementation in the latter half of CY 2014. The web-based global T&A product, based on the same technology as GFACS, is scheduled for initial implementation late in CY 2014. This product has the capability of electronic routing, electronic signature, and self-service features. As a result, it will bring more efficient and modern process to the Department's workforce.

Business Intelligence Program

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 data warehouse enables users to access financial information from standard, prepared reports or customized queries. It reports in real-time to compile the financial information needed for informed decision making on a day-to-day basis. The data warehouse also provides, on a daily basis, critical financial information to the Department's data warehouse. In FY 2013, a major technical upgrade to a more current technology platform was completed. Progress was also made on the development of dashboards and supporting infrastructure for the loading and reporting of budget and travel data in the data warehouse, with full implementations of both scheduled for FY 2014.

In addition to the GFMS Data Warehouse, CGFS continues to work on business intelligence systems to support Department financial managers through several features of the COAST system. COAST Reporting was implemented in late FY 2006, to support overseas financial management officers and post decision makers. 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. In addition, COAST Payroll Reporting provides access to payroll-specific data at the post, bureau, and agency levels and will take advantage of COAST's existing drill-down and reporting functionality.

 




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