ATF finishes migration to new financial system

ATF finishes migration to new financial system

By Patricia Daukantas
GCN Staff

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms this month finished converting all its mainframe financial management functions to the Momentum client-server suite from American Management Systems Inc. of Fairfax, Va.

The agency wants the changeover to reduce paper shuffling in the bureau's offices and put more information in managers' hands.

The Momentum client-server financial suite shows ATF managers how their budgets are allocated by time and region. The new system went live in October.

Since 1992, ATF had used AMS' Federal Financial System, which is installed at 60 federal agencies, said Zipora 'Zip' Brown, vice president of AMS' electronic government solutions group.

ATF is the company's first federal customer to move all its financial operations off FFS and onto Momentum, Brown said.

By the time the software transition began last fall, most applications had been moved off the mainframe at the bureau's Martinsburg, W.Va., processing center because of year 2000 concerns, ATF chief financial officer Bill Earle said.

The new Momentum system went live Oct. 18, said Marguerite Moccia, ATF's deputy CFO.

FFS was available only at ATF headquarters in Washington and inaccessible from field offices, Earle said. About 150 of the bureau's 185 locations around the country now have access to Momentum.

'It seemed like, for us, the natural migration from the system we had been on,' Earle said.

Momentum will deliver reports that managers previously had to request from the gatekeepers of the FFS system, he said.

ATF field offices previously filled out paper financial forms and mailed them to the central office in Washington, said Donna Ryan, vice president and ATF client manager for AMS. Electronic routing eliminates the paper.

'This is a major reinvention of how [ATF workers] are going about their daily business,' Ryan said.

For example, bureau managers use the Procurement Desktop portion of Momentum to enter purchase requests from the field, Brown said. A security, approval and routing process sends the transactions to the proper supervisors.

Easy money

The push for year 2000 readiness helped ATF find the money for the transition. 'It was easier to get the kind of funding we needed,' Earle said, 'in the range of several million dollars.'

The changeover also fits the bureau's long-standing commitment 'to go paperless as soon as we possibly can,' the CFO said.

The system has already eliminated paper vouchers for incidental expenses such as cab fares. The bureau now can turn around reimbursement requests in four days instead of making employees wait up to 45 days for a check.

'Those are just small examples but they mean a lot to people working on the front lines,' Earle said.

ATF has 500 seat licenses for Momentum, but additional seats might be needed for middle managers who want access to requests and reports, Moccia said.

'They're not day-in and day-out accounting folks like you'd find at headquarters, but they are regular users of the system whenever they have to acquire anything or set up budgets or approve transactions,' Brown said.

AMS conducted eight weeks of Momentum training last summer, and ATF workers then began entering fiscal 2000 budget information in to the application.

Part of the software transition involved converting the last five years' worth of bureau data from the FFS format to the Momentum format, Ryan said. That way, ATF could access old data even though the mainframe system was being dismantled.

The conversion turned out to be a 'monumental, Herculean task that required a lot of stamina' on the part of both ATF and AMS, Earle said.

The Momentum suite last year gained a spot on the government's new approved financial software list [GCN, Oct. 11, 1999, Page 1] after tests by the interagency Joint Financial Management Improvement Program.

Some federal AMS customers have chosen to use parts of Momentum as a front end to FFS, Brown said.

AMS is also working with the Agency for International Development as it makes the transition to Momentum-only financial management from a custom system.

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