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3/19/2010
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White House Shutters Financial Systems Standards Effort

The closure of the Financial Systems Integration Office leaves unanswered questions for the future of inter-agency efforts on financial systems standards and compliance.

By the end of the month, the Obama administration will shut down an effort aimed at aligning, consolidating, and creating standards for federal financial systems, an Office of Management and Budget official announced this week.

In a memo sent to agency CFOs on Tuesday, OMB controller Danny Werfel announced that the General Services Administration's Financial Systems Integration Office (FSIO) will cease operations on March 31.

As a result, the office will also stop testing financial products for compliance with federal financial management requirements.

In his memo, Werfel pointed, as reasons for the shutdown, to rapidly changing financial technology and the fact that FSIO has achieved many of the objectives the government had in mind when creating the office four years ago.

"We believe the FSIO has finished developing business process and data standards as it related to its mission," the memo said. "In addition, rapid advances in technology are requiring us to rethink how we implement financial systems." The current process of financial system deployment, Wurfel wrote, leads to financial systems that don't meet agency needs, don't produce the right kinds of information needed for informed decision making, and take a long time to deploy.

What remains unclear, however, is how interagency financial systems efforts evolve from here in terms of the roles formerly played by FSIO. "I look forward to working with each of you as we develop the new path for financial systems in the federal government," the memo ended.

Ssome of these questions may be answered as early as next week, when FSIO hosts its final annual conference in D.C. Speakers include Office of Personnel Management director John Berry as well as a number of agency CIOs, CFOs, and auditors.

Before ending its run at the end of the month, FSIO will issue its final updates to its Core Financial Systems Requirements, which describe the capabilities needed to comply with federal financial management regulations and standards.

Since its inception, the FSIO has worked with OMB and federal agencies to help consolidate and standardize federal financial systems and data. Among its successes have been the development of a number of standard financial business processes, a common government-wide accounting classification structure, standard charge card data elements, a framework for financial system migrations, and a guide for measuring financial systems performance.

FSIO has also been part of a shared systems effort for the federal government that has resulted in a few agencies serving as financial systems service providers to other agencies through projects like the Department of Interior's National Business Center.

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