By Jennifer Maguire, Director of FI$Cal
With the passage of AB 156 last year, the Department of FISCal (FI$Cal) is focused on aligning our strategic goals to the roadmap the bill set out before us. As we move into 2023, we are more committed than ever to ensure the system remains secure and modernized and serves the state of California’s financial management needs. My top priorities for the department this year revolve around information security, ongoing support and continuous improvement of the system, providing outstanding customer service and continuing to onboard deferred departments. These priorities are in line with the requirements in AB 156, which declared FI$Cal’s project objectives complete as of July 1, 2022.
In the coming year, our initiatives include:
Protecting FI$Cal’s data and applications is one of my top priorities. We are continuously improving our cybersecurity posture and have been acknowledged by the Department of Technology for our continual efforts and leadership in cybersecurity. We are committed to improving all three components essential in cybersecurity: people, processes and technology.
During the coming year, we will continue to implement cybersecurity solutions using the Governor’s CalSecure Roadmap and National Institute of Standards and Technology Cyber Security Framework as our guides. In addition, we will work to implement a cloud-based disaster recovery environment for the FI$Cal system. FI$Cal has a cloud-first policy, meaning we look to cloud computing solutions before making any new investments, to ensure ongoing security and integrity of the system. We will migrate our key back-office systems and services to the cloud, which will enable our staff to perform their functions through cloud-based virtual private networks and virtual desktops without any downtime, should we have issues at our main office. We will also take the lessons learned from implementing cloud-based, non-production and disaster recovery environments and formulate a strategy for migrating the FI$Cal system components to the cloud. It is my goal to fully transition the FI$Cal system to the cloud over the next several years.
Ongoing Support and Continuous Improvements to the System
Over the course of 2022, we organized and identified a list of enhancements to improve the customer experience and to continually add innovative technological solutions to the system. We continue to prioritize these enhancements, and maintain a monthly enhancement deployment schedule. Included in these efforts, are enhancements to existing processes for accounting and financial reporting that will provide efficiencies and accuracy in reporting. These planned enhancements include electronic fund transfer, a vendor portal, bond accounting and other enhancements to process common transactions. Many of these enhancements were the direct result of interactive engagement with our customer departments, and represent the ongoing maintenance and modernization of the system, ensuring efficient and relevant alignment with the state’s financial management processes.
Outstanding Customer Service
We place the highest value on customer support. Along with the Customer Impact Committee, the FI$Cal Learning Center and FI$Cal Service Center, we continue to seek feedback from system users and are in the process of analyzing the results of a comprehensive financial system survey sent to all of our customer departments. Through this process, we will drill down on what challenges end users are experiencing now that they have been using the system for several years. The survey will identify areas of potential pain points, such as technology, workforce, policy, or other issues, to develop recommendations to implement technology improvements and share policy and procedure recommendations with our partner agencies, so we can work together on solutions to improve month-end close and year-end close processes.
Onboarding Deferred Departments
After onboarding of the departments actively using the FI$Cal system, we have begun the process of onboarding the remaining deferred departments. These departments were deferred from the initial releases, as most had their own enterprise resource planning systems in place during the initial department onboardings. We are now in the process of onboarding the Department of Technology (CDT), the Department of Rehabilitation (DOR) and the Department of Transportation (Caltrans). We began our onboarding efforts with CDT and DOR last year, and anticipate a two-year time frame to complete the onboarding activities. Earlier this year, we began onboarding efforts with Caltrans, and anticipate it will take three years, given the size and complexity of the department.
These priorities represent a piece of the larger picture for the department going forward. Enormously complex by its very nature, there are currently 152 departments and approximately 14,000 end users using the system, processing $421 billion in expenditures in the fiscal year 2021-2022. We are proud to say that departments are paying their bills and balancing their budgets every day using the FI$Cal system, and we continue the important work of bringing improvements to the system and supporting our customers.