Jan - Feb 2012: Article

GFEBS Goes Global

The most advanced financial management system in Army history, the General Fund Enterprise Business System (GFEBS), is now operational worldwide. When Secretary of the Army John McHugh and then Chief of Staff of the Army General George W. Casey, Jr., presented the 2011 Army Posture Statement to Congress, they stated, "Much more than an accounting system, GFEBS is the Army's new business system. It gives managers a greatly improved capability to manage the cost, schedule and performance of their programs and, at the same time, is the centerpiece in our progress toward full auditability of our financial statements."

The Army's new business system will provide the core financial systems capability to support an unqualified audit opinion for the Army's General Fund in compliance with the Chief Financial Officers Act and other statutory requirements. Mary Sally Matiella, the Assistant Secretary of the Army for Financial Management and Comptroller (ASA [FM&C]), noted, "We know what an audit-ready financial environment looks like and our audit readiness plan incorporates the necessary steps to get us there. . . . Fundamental to supporting an audit is being able to support every financial transaction all the way down to the details and supporting documentation."

GFEBS records financial transactions with supporting documentation, tracks transactions to the detailed level, and produces an auditable trial balance. The Army Audit Agency's most recent evaluation found that GFEBS complies with 1,054 of 1,113 requirements, or 94.7 percent, of the Federal Financial Management Improvement Act. Ongoing development of GFEBS will complete the remaining 5 percent for full compliance in FY 2012.

As the Army Posture Statement notes, GFEBS is much more than an accounting system because it capitalizes on the financial accounting structure to provide the first Army-wide cost accounting system. This allows allocating or assigning costs, producing full cost data, relating costs to outcomes and performance, and enabling cost planning and cost controlling. GFEBS also provides visibility of transactions in real time and of historical data, which enables the performance of analyses both to leverage available resources and to better inform program and budget decisions.

Kristyn Jones, the director of financial information management under the ASA(FM&C), recognized the transformational nature of GFEBS when she observed, "What we are talking about is a cultural change that involves moving away from success being measured by obligating 99.9 percent of funds. Instead, the focus must be on effective stewardship and making decisions that use resources wisely." She also noted that Army success "requires good data and good analytic skills on the part of our personnel—and again, not just the resource management staffs. Effective cost management is a leader's responsibility."

To develop a new system with the scope of GFEBS and to implement the solution worldwide with hundreds of organizations and thousands of users, GFEBS applied an incremental approach to both development and deployment. Development focused on a series of "releases," and deployment involved a series of "waves." GFEBS began implementation with a single organization at a single location on 1 October 2008; this was followed by a slightly larger implementation on 1 April 2009.

Since then, additional, larger-scale implementation waves have occurred in tandem with continuing development. On 1 April 2011, the Army added more than 7,600 new users in locations in the United States, Europe, and Korea. Then on 1 July, another 12,100 users from the Army National Guard were added—the single largest addition of new users—to complete the deployment in all 50 states and 4 territories. On 1 October, the Army added another 4,200 users.

GFEBS now has nearly 40,000 users from the Active Army, Army National Guard, and Army Reserve. It is the most widely implemented of the Army's Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) systems. When fully deployed, GFEBS will engage close to 60,000 users at some 200 locations worldwide and have an impact on almost every Army organization and function.

GFEBS involves fully or partially replacing 106 information systems, interfacing with other systems (presently 45 systems), and reengineering business processes and data structures. With its latest release, GFEBS added functionality that includes an interface with the Army's Deployable Disbursing System (DDS), which enables GFEBS to support financial operations in overseas locations.

The second phase of the Army's federated concept for integrating ERP systems was completed between GFEBS and the Global Combat Support System-Army (GCSS–Army). This included synchronizing funds management and cost management master data between the two systems and consolidating cost management and execution reporting and funds management and financial reporting in GFEBS.

On 24 June 2011, GFEBS received a full deployment decision from Elizabeth McGrath, the program's milestone decision authority. This decision affirmed the deployment readiness of the GFEBS solution and authorized system implementation Army-wide. GFEBS deployment will conclude in 2012, resulting in a core system for managing a significant portion of the Army's General Fund and ushering in a new era in Army financial management.

For more information on GFEBS, visit the milWiki page at https://www.milsuite.mil/wiki/Portal:GFEBS.

Frank A. Distasio, Jr., is the GFEBS Communications Lead.

 

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