OMB, GSA offer financial-management guidance

Partially finalized migration document still must address key issues

The Office of Management and Budget's long-awaited Version 1.0 of the Financial Management Line of Business migration guidance leaves some questions unanswered.

But while officials acknowledge the document's shortcomings, they point out that agencies that need to migrate to a new financial system can't afford to wait until every concern is addressed.

'Some of the unanswered questions are large and complex, and will have a big impact on how this will progress,' said Tabetha Mueller, spokeswoman for Rep. Todd Platts (R-Pa.), chairman of the House Government Reform Subcommittee on Government Management, Finance and Accountability.

While the guidance provides some specifics, it does not give agencies input on a handful of critical issues, such as how agencies should screen potential public and private shared-services providers, and, once an agreement has been signed, how the SSP and customer should resolve disputes.

'Some of these agency systems are out of date, and they need to do something,' said Mary Mitchell, the General Services Administration's deputy associate administrator and FM LOB program manager. 'They need to proceed now, whether we move forward or not.'

Mitchell said the outstanding issues should be cleared up and finalized by early winter.

OMB issued the guidance after considering the more than 700 comments on drafts released earlier this year.

The crux of the document remains the same: Agencies planning to replace or substantially change their financial-management systems must, with limited exceptions, turn over their operations to one of four public SSPs or become one themselves.

Agencies also can sign up with a private provider, so long as the firm meets certain requirements.

The final document clarifies that there is no time frame for agencies to make such a determination; rather, the agency's existing financial infrastructure should be the bellwether.

The latest revision also makes clear that if an agency prefers to seek a private firm for these services, they must comply with OMB Circular A-76, which spells out how agencies perform public/private competitions.

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