The Treasury Department and Office of Management and Budget recently announced the opening of a new federal financial management office. Treasury’s Office of Financial Innovation and Transformation, (OFIT) created a buzz when word started to circulate that it would pick up some of the functions of the old Federal Systems Integration Office.
Adam Goldberg, the new director of OFIT, told Federal News Radio, that’s not going to happen. “No,” said Goldberg, “in fact the things that we’re going to be doing in this office are going to be very different from what the FSIO organization performs.”
First up for OFIT, said Goldberg, will be to come up with a solution for a “governmentwide portal for capturing invoices electronically from vendors who do business with the government.” Goldberg said his office has a solution in mind that’s cheaper to stand up and “we believe the longterm costs of operation is less because we’re doing everything electronically.”
The solution they plan to start with will be part of “an enhanced pilot,” said Goldberg to identify additional needs and cost for the solution.
OFIT is putting together a short list of agencies to participate, “but the Treasury Department and the Bureau of Public Debt may actually be one of the agencies that do participate in this pilot,” said Goldberg.
There are “significant costs” associated with using the systems in place now, said the director, so this is “the right moment to take a new look at how we select and implement systems in the federal government.”
What we found at the end of the day is that the return on investment of these systems is far less than we were anticipating originally. And our hope now is that, as we go out and identify these solutions, we will have much clearer return on investments for these packages to drive costs down at the federal agencies.
Goldberg didn’t blame the old processes for the costs. The problem was the old technology. Now, “it is technology that’s enabling this and cloud technology which will allow us to leverage information gathered in different places much more easily that we’ve been able to do in the past.”
Once a solution is found, agencies would have the option to change, at least initially. “Longer-term as long as the return on investment is positive,” said Goldberg, “we may look for policy coming from OMB that would require agencies to transition to these solutions.”
This would be just the start for the new office.
Invoicing would be the first step and the other area that we’re looking at right now is interagency agreements. These would be transactions between a buyer-agency like GSA and selling-agency like DOD. We currently have a lot of challenges in that area and a government-wide material weakness in intergovernmental reconciliations, and we think that is an area that is ripe for some additional exploration moving forward.
The cost savings, per year, make the effort worth while, said Goldberg. “We know that within the invoicing environment we’ve made estimates that roughly $750 (million) to a billion dollars are paid annually in processing these invoices. We think the savings could be in the hundreds of millions of dollars when fully implemented.”