Francis: The Department of the Treasury is the home of one of the newest Quality Service Management Offices. The new office will focus on providing core financial management services to agencies, including accounts payable, general ledger, and accounts receivable. David Lebryk is Financial Assistant Secretary at the Department of the Treasury.
Dave, welcome, it’s good to see you again. What does this mean; what services specifically are you providing for agencies?
David Lebryk: Thank you for having me, Francis. Specifically, the office is designed to really try to build a marketplace, and really in the end the goal of this objective is to make government operate better, and specifically to allow the financial management community to do a better job of providing information and being more efficient. So we’re looking at trying to build a marketplace of common technology and services, giving agencies the option to more effectively procure and implement those services. One of the real challenges we have today is over 75% of the agencies are facing end of life of financial systems, so having a marketplace that is more responsive and actually helping them meet those needs in the future is enormously important.
Francis: So that marketplace will provide solutions, or avenues to solutions – what does that markteplace look like, Dave?
David: We put together a strategic plan and there are sort of really four major components of what the office will do, and we’re looking at putting together a really small group of people, we’re not looking to build a large organization. In fact, one of the things I found over the course of my career is that a small number of highly dedicated people can make a disproportionate impact if they’re really focused on a specific effort. In this particular case, the objective is to try to develop standards for these solutions for the marketplace to understand what it’s building to. We’re working with the solutions providers, whether that be the software providers, the integrators or the existing shared service providers, to actually allow them to build a marketplace that’s consistent with the needs of the customers in the federal agencies.
Francis: So you will be kind of the connective tissue among all of these stakeholders that you list on your website as being agencies that industry, legacy, federal shared service providers, and other stakeholders and partners, and you reference particularly OMB, GSA, and others – you’re kind of the connective tissue of all those organizations, with an in-house understanding of what general federal government financial management needs are. Am I hearing you right?
David: Exactly, and we put together a sort of set of core principles of how this office should operate and what it should be doing. And one of the key fundamental first principles is being customer-focused, and that is, looking out at the customers and agencies to understand what their needs are. And additionally you mentioned I think importantly our interaction with other Quality Service Management Offices, and so for example one of the challenges you face in the federal government is when you have a core financial system, you’re bringing information into those systems from other systems within the agency, and so for example in the grants community you’re bringing grants information into the core financial system, and you need to have good collaboration and coordination with those other communities to be effective at actually delivering the ultimate outcome, which is basically better stewardship of the financial resources and ultimately better data that allows people to make better decisions. We look at this question of what do taxpayers want. They want good financial accurate information from the federal government and good stewardship, and this really is about trying to achieve those two objectives.
Francis: The other most recently officially named QSMO is the General Services Administration with Timecard and other employee human resources oriented operations. What’s that interaction like among you and the other QSMOs to make sure that, as you’re saying, everybody is on the same standard for everything?
David: Really it’s been a lot of commonality around what we all see our common objective is, and what it comes down to in the end is, how do you take information from disparate systems across government and bring it all together, in some cases brokering the information, and the GSA QSMO and the one at HHS are all dealing with the same set of issues, and we’ve had some success at Treasury with the Data Act of really building a broker of how you actually extract and gather information from the different agencies to compile it up to show what government spending is, and a very similar thing has to happen here. I would say one of the major challenges historically with the implementation of core financial management systems is your ability to actually integrate them with those other systems, and one of the major workstreams in our effort is to look at ways to make that easier and crack that nut of making it much easier so you don’t have to rebuild everything, but rather taking information from the existing systems and bringing it into the core financial system.
Francis: And what I think is especially useful, Dave, is it sounds like you’re trying to do that on a strategic level and not just a tactical level. One of the objectives that is on your website about this QSMO is that you’ll guide and govern the long-term sustainability of core financial management services and solutions. You’re in this with the agencies that you’re partnering with for the long haul, right? This is not just, we’re going to help you buy a piece of software and wish you well.
David: Yeah it is, and we have a couple of things – in the short term, we’re really taking a look at lessons learned from what other large-scale implementations have been done in this area, and the landscape is quite varied; some have been successful and some have not, and you can often learn as much from those things that didn’t work well as those that had, and so I think when, as I mentioned, this small group of experts are going to be taking those experiences and understandings and trying to make sure that as agencies are moving forward we don’t make the same mistake twice. And that in and of itself would be a really great objective. And in the more intermediate term, with respect to what an agency is looking to do more, we make that process much easier to actually procure the software or services. And finally that ultimate objective is, how do we really make government function better by having better access to data.
Francis: Dave, thanks very much for coming on. Good luck in this effort.
David: Thank you for having me.