By Miriam Barcellona Ingenito, Director of FI$Cal
I know that these are challenging times for all of us. Many are balancing the challenges of working from home with family obligations and are concerned about family and friends. Please take time for yourselves and reach out to loved ones for support. We are all in this together, and we are strong and resilient together.
With all that is going on, I do have some good news to share. FI$Cal is moving forward toward officially closing out the FI$Cal project. Everything except the CAFR reports are to be implemented by this July 1, and we are currently working with the Department of Technology and the legislature on a new plan and schedule for the remaining CAFR subproject.
There are 10 deferred departments, and we are doing a fit-gap analysis to determine their exact needs and how we can fill them. This will take some time.
On March 12, I had the opportunity to brief legislators during a Senate Budget Subcommittee #4 hearing, and I must say it was gratifying to bring along our four partners to testify about the value FI$Cal brings to state operations.
Andrew Sturmfels, deputy director for administration at the Department of General Services, testified on how FI$Cal has improved state processes and transparency into state spending.
“In procurement, transitioning to FI$Cal has helped us gain insight on what the state is buying, from whom, and for what price,” Andrew testified. “FI$Cal has centralized and standardized detailed procurement data that we’re not just using to make better decisions—we’re also sharing it with the public. Through FI$Cal, we now have a single platform that allows real time, accurate reporting for each individual department and the state in total.”
He also talked about how FI$Cal has helped DGS standardize procurement practices across all state departments, and he highlighted real-time tracking of spending.
“We’re also now able to track state spending with small businesses and disabled veteran business enterprises in real time,” Andrew said. “Before FI$Cal, departments submitted paper-based annual reports. Departments often did not know their own SB/DVBE (small business and disabled veteran business enterprises) annual spend until the end of the year, unless they had their own internal method for tracking.”
Dave O’Toole, chief operating officer at the State Controller’s Office, touted the Central Vendor Management File (VMF), which provides integrity, accountability and transparency for state and local governments related to vendors.
“The VMF improves fiscal controls and decision making by state managers and the Legislature in order to enhance the quality, timeliness, consistency and accessibility to vendor information,” he said.
Andre Rivera, deputy director at the State Treasurer’s Office, talked about the $2 trillion in transactions that are now accounted for in FI$Cal.
“All state departments have the ability to log into FI$Cal and electronically submit their deposits,” Andre told the lawmakers. “Now that this functionality is available in FI$Cal, we have shuttered our legacy electronic deposit forms platform. Our eight depository banks can now send their daily bank files directly to FI$Cal, which are then automatically loaded without manual intervention.”
Richard Gillihan, chief operating officer at the Department of Finance, circled back to the issue of oversight and how that should proceed as we close out the final piece of functionality.
He expressed FI$Cal’s desire for “a thoughtful conversation with the oversight entities and with the Legislature, of course, about what’s the appropriate level of oversight and what the oversight should be focused on.”
As Richard noted, “the vast majority of the contracted functionality has been delivered, deployed and is in production and running as we speak. In the overall context, there is a small percentage of remaining functionality that is left to do, and we think that’s where the oversight should be focused.”
This marked the first time we had partners with us at a legislative hearing, and I really appreciated their participation. As we move forward, FI$Cal is changing focus, and I think the Legislature is realizing our value more and more as our record of major successes is made more clear.