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These questions and answers have been developed to keep the HHS community informed about the UFMS project. As the project progresses, these FAQs will be updated to reflect the latest information. For inquires that are not represented in this list, please email Mailbox.UFMS@hhs.gov
Q: What is UFMS?
A: UFMS (Unified Financial Management System) is a business management tool that will provide relevant, reliable and timely information to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of financial, business and operational functions.
Q: Why UFMS? Why now?
A: UFMS is, essentially, the HHS business management response to President Bush's Management Agenda, in which the President calls for more efficient, effective and responsive government.
The HHS Secretary believes that one way to accomplish this goal is to consolidate systems and eliminate redundancies across the Department. The Secretary established the UFMS Program to achieve "greater economies of scale, eliminate duplication, and provide better service delivery."
UFMS offers important benefits to HHS and its operating divisions in meeting these goals:
Q: What is the UFMS Initiative?
A: UFMS ultimately will replace five outdated accounting systems now in use at the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), and the Program Support Center (PSC). [PSC's system provides financial accounting and reporting services for the remaining operating agencies.]
UFMS will consist of two major components: CMS' Healthcare Integrated General Ledger Accounting System (HIGLAS) and a system for the rest of the Department. The system is being designed utilizing commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) software that has been certified for Federal agencies by the Joint Financial Management Improvement Program (JFMIP). A software package called Oracle 11i Federal Financials will be its foundation.
For more information on the background of UMFS visit http://www.hhs.gov/ufms/background.html
Q: Who is responsible for the UFMS initiative?
A: Then-Secretary Thompson personally launched UFMS in June 2001. The initiative is being led by Kerry Weems, Deputy Chief of Staff. The Project Management Office (PMO) Director, Terry Hurst, manages the project on a day-to-day basis.
Q: Which agencies are involved?
A: All HHS operating divisions will participate in the UFMS initiative:
Some HHS agencies had already begun to replace their antiquated accounting systems: NIH in 1999, CDC in 1999, HCFA (now CMS) in 1999, and FDA in 2000. Now, these separate efforts are being combined to support UFMS. UFMS is comprised of two components: one for Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) and another for the rest of the Department.
Full participation of the HHS operating divisions helps fulfill the mission of UFMS:
The Department shall have an integrated Department-wide financial system that consistently produces relevant, reliable and timely financial information to support decision-making and cost-effective business operations at all levels throughout the Department.
Q: Why Oracle?
A: More than 350 public sector customers rely on Oracle Financials applications. The Oracle U.S. Federal Financials software product was chosen to support this business transformation because it is an integrated set of applications that represent a JFMIP certified COTS core financial package. Oracle Financials functionality reflects best business practices in financial management (e.g. streamlined reporting capability to reduce or eliminate manual reconciliation processes). The Oracle Financials commercial product was released in 1988; the Oracle Financials federal product was released in 1990.
UFMS will be comprised of the Oracle U.S. Federal Financials core modules (General Ledger, Budget Execution, Payables, Purchasing (for recording commitments and obligations), Receivables), Oracle Projects, reporting tools to provide consolidated financial reporting, interfaces to existing systems, and selected software enhancements where necessary.
Q: What is the scope of UFMS?
A: The following elements included in the UFMS initiative:
The following elements are not part of the scope of the UFMS initiative:
Important Note: The "Financial Transactions" component of the feeder systems, including the associated interfaces to record them within UFMS, are part of the scope of this initiative.
Q: Will programs be affected?
A: Yes, programs will be affected in a positive way. Standardization of financial management processes to support business operations will help agency program functions both indirectly and directly by providing the following:
These benefits are quantifiable. However, some of the benefits will only be realized after all agencies are deployed (e.g. full consolidated reporting capability at the Department level). As each agency goes live, the benefits will be realized consistent with the rollout approach and business process decisions made during the site level designs.
Q: Each HHS agency has a different mandate, with different business, financial and accounting requirements and standards. How does a "unified" system help?
A: The key word in UFMS is "unified" - not uniform. UFMS will significantly reduce the logistical complexity of coordinating and consolidating financial information throughout the Department.
Moreover, the target environment provides HHS and the component agencies with a flexible and responsive reporting capability. Specifically, the target environment will do the following:
The reduction of core financial systems from five systems to two will provide significant opportunities for improvement in operations. HHS can realize additional productivity gains through the consolidation of financial management operations into a shared service environment. The shared services concept supports streamlining operational activities to achieve more efficient and cost-effective business performance while providing the component agencies with ready access to data and flexible reporting capabilities. UFMS will provide a solid financial systems infrastructure on which a shared services operation can deliver its common business functions.
Q: When does my agency change over to the new UFMS system?
A: The Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and the National Institutes of Health (NIH) have begun to implement UFMS. Other HHS operation divisions will follow suit in the coming months.
For a detailed program schedule visit http://www.hhs.gov/ufms/programtimeline.html
Q: In what ways can potential UFMS users see how the new system will work?
A: There are several ways. First, Conference Room Pilots (CRPs) are conducted to support each agency implementation. CRPs are structured working sessions where participants observe application demonstrations and engage in discussions. CRPs have recently been held both in the Washington, D.C. area, for CDC and FDA, and at the CDC in Atlanta. In August 2004, a CRP for the PSC and its customer agencies was held; another will be held in November/December 2005. UFMS demonstrations may also be presented at UFMS events, such as road shows and awareness sessions to help future users gain exposure to the system.
Q: How will UFMS interface with our current systems?
A: The UFMS Technical Analysis team will address those concerns as follows:
The Technology Analysis team will assess each set of interface requirements for the applicability of traditional point-to-point interface techniques, which use combinations of polling, messaging and variably scheduled batch jobs. Additionally, the team will investigate the use of an Enterprise Application Integration (EAI) middleware product for the global interfaces as part of the global activities.
Q: Are there any benefits to the HHS agencies - in addition to those for the department's management?
A: UFMS will provide HHS with an integrated Department-wide financial system that consistently produces relevant, reliable and timely financial information to support decision-making and cost-effective business operations at all levels throughout the Department.
HHS agency-level benefits include the following:
Q: How can I find out the status of the UFMS project?
A: The primary communications tools to disseminate UFMS news to the Department of Health and Human Services community are the UFMS Newsletter and the UFMS Web site. Visit the UFMS website and the UFMS Newsletter http://www.hhs.gov/ufms/newsletters.html for regularly updated project status.
Q: What is Business Transformation?
A: Business Transformation is an integrated communications, training, workforce planning, and evaluation approach for assisting managers, supervisors, and employees to effectively convert to a new way of accomplishing work. Included in the UFMS project is a Business Transformation Team (BTT) to help transition the workforce from current business processes to the new processes employed by UFMS.
Q: Is training planned for the UFMS Project?
A: The UFMS Business Transformation Team is developing a training strategy. The training strategy is predicated on output from the organizational impact analysis and the competency requirements analysis in which future knowledge, skills and abilities are identified. Training will be developed to fill the gap between the way in which work is being done currently and how it will be done as UFMS is implemented.
A great deal of thought will be given to ensure that training administration is structured and managed to make it easy for all impacted staff to have access to the training necessary to achieve optimal job performance using the new system.
The curriculum will be structured in modular form. Each module will be comprised of multiple courses, where each course addresses activities and tasks that comprise a business process. Courses will be offered as instructor-led classes and/or computer-based training. Training participants will be asked to complete detailed course evaluations to help ensure that training meets stated objectives, that the objectives are relevant, and that suggestions for improvements are considered and incorporated were adequate.
Q: Who can I contact with questions about UFMS?
A: For information, comments, or questions about the UFMS project, please email Mailbox.UFMS@hhs.gov
For specific functional interests, visit http://www.hhs.gov/ufms/contacts.html and identify the appropriate team member for your functional area.
Last revised: April 13, 2005[an error occurred while processing this directive]