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Standardizing Business Exchanges: Vision for the Future – Part 2

Agencies built financial systems at different times and configured them to their specific needs. These configurations resulted in these systems not being able to share information (for example, procurement, travel, grants) from agency to agency. The outcome was that aggregate data could not be distributed across the government because they were not consistently defined.

The Federal Financial Management community is working to ease these challenges and enable employees to work more efficiently through greater standardization of financial management data, processes, and practices.

The first blog in this series discussed how the Financial Management Standards Committee (FMSC) sponsored a project with the Financial Management Quality Service Management Office (FM QSMO) to standardize the way agencies share information across systems. The interfaces they developed can be adopted by all agencies. They will act like universal power adapters (similar to the ones people use to charge their mobiles when traveling to different countries), allowing differently configured systems to produce standardized output for easier integration with other systems. This work supports Treasury's 10-Year Vision for Future Financial Management.

This second blog will detail the steps taken to reach this achievement.

To produce a universal power adaptor, business rules must be defined by understanding what data elements constitute these systems and how they interact. The FMSC coordinated with agencies and system vendors to identify the minimum data elements needed to support inputs and outputs across financial systems. This creates a baseline for what information needs to be shared.

The standardized interface requirements can be implemented through the following connections.

  Step 1: Development of Standard Business Exchanges

Business exchanges are standardized data elements about transactions between mixed and financial systems. Business exchanges are grouped by specific events (for example, Invoice, Order, Receipt, Journal Entry, Entity ID, Requisition, and the like.) The FMSC identified commonalities in these data elements and mapped them in the standards. The standards govern the requirements of the elements for each required system. Data elements are also found in the accounting string. These elements can be grouped into broader categories such as program and cost.

  Step 2: Development of Standard Business Rules

Business rules are instructions for how data elements are processed consistently across all agencies for a type of mixed system. It translates non-financial data into financial data when needed, considers user needs, and ensures transactional and financial management policy compliance (for example, Derive/Map Data Elements , Validate Data, Generate Error Messages, and the like.)

Business Exchanges + Business Rules = Standardized Interface Requirements

Adopting standardized interface requirements will streamline financial system operations across government and dramatically improve the consistency and completeness of data collected in the financial systems positioning financial systems to support new government-wide use of data. Through this work, the FMSC and the FM QSMO will build out the universal power adaptor and supply it to the agencies.

The next blog will provide an update on current and future business exchange work that focuses on FMSC’s collaboration with other lines of business and how the FM QSMO will put these standards to work.

To learn more about the FMSC, check out our page!

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Last modified 10/15/20