By Jennifer Maguire, Director of FI$Cal
2022 has been a time of growth and transition for the Department of FISCal (FI$Cal). With the final project functionality deployed in June of 2021, this year we saw the formal recognition of the project completion with the passing of Assembly Bill 156 in September 2022.
The new legislation sets out a roadmap for future activities, which includes enhancing, upgrading and ensuring the alignment of the FI$Cal system with the state’s financial management processes. In addition, the law redefines FI$Cal reporting requirements to the legislature, as well as the focus of oversight by the California State Auditor for the work ahead.
This past month, I was honored to be appointed as director of the department, and I am excited to support the continued efforts outlined in the roadmap, including onboarding departments that were previously deferred from using the FI$Cal system, system modernization efforts and transitioning the accounting book of record to the FI$Cal system.
During 2022, the FI$Cal team continued to develop solutions, implement improvements and release guidance to help end users navigate the system and close their books more effectively. In fact, as of September 27, fiscal year 2021-22 year-end close saw a 30.4 percent improvement over the previous year. This is an amazing achievement that showcases the collaborative effects of supporting our end users.
While both FI$Cal and the State Controller’s Office (SCO) legacy systems continue to run in tandem until SCO’s validation work is complete, in February, FI$Cal released the first phase of a FI$Cal to SCO Fund Reconciliation report. The report helps departments streamline the reconciliation process, increasing efficiencies in month-end close/year-end close processes.
That same month, the FI$Cal Learning Center (FLC) celebrated its one year anniversary. The FLC is a one-stop shop created to help our customers master the skills they need to become confident and successful using the FI$Cal system. Virtual instructor-led, and self-paced training curricula are available through the FLC portal. These courses include pre-recorded lecture videos and interactive learning content, providing the opportunity for users to learn the training content at their own pace. During the first year, 4,895 end users used the FLC, with 76 virtual training sessions delivered to more than 3,100 attendees.
In April, in partnership with the Department of General Services, FI$Cal implemented an award-winning innovative new feature that allows suppliers and departments to quickly identify the payment status for procurements. This new Purchase Order Payment History search tool allows vendors, subcontractors, state departments and the general public to search for procurement-related payments made to vendors by state departments within the FI$Cal system. The tool received the National Association of State Chief Administrators’ Innovation in State Government award for digital services, data management, analytics and visualization, and the Government Technology’s Best of California award in Information Technology collaboration.
Effective July 1, FI$Cal was approved for 64 new positions as part of the Spring Finance letter budget process. In response, the department has increased its job recruitments efforts, updating its outreach and hosting its first-ever virtual job fair. During the event, the human resources office provided an overview of the department and its divisions, and FI$Cal leaders shared details about their divisions and the types of projects staff typically work on, answering in-depth questions from potential job candidates.
Also in July, FI$Cal upgraded Hyperion, its application used within the system for statewide budgeting. FI$Cal is committed to continuously upgrade critical applications to improve user experience, bringing in performance and security improvements and ensuring its hardware and software infrastructure has supported technologies.
Additionally, FI$Cal continues to make the financial information of the state of California more transparent through Open FI$Cal, the website that opened California’s “books” to the public. As of July, the site displays expenditure information for all departments transacting in the FI$Cal system, updated every month, and it continues to evolve. By the end of 2022, we will begin making non-confidential departmental data from departments not transacting in FI$Cal available as well. Since its public launch in 2018, the site has added nearly 150 million rows of data, representing all of the departments that use FI$Cal for their accounting. Over $1.4 trillion in expenditures have been listed on the site so far, equaling over 60 gigabytes of data.
In addition to these many accomplishments, we released over 182 enhancements to improve user experience and customer service, continually adding innovation to the system. Many of the enhancements were the direct result of interactive engagement with FI$Cal end users.
These successes represent our ongoing efforts to make the state’s financial systems more effective and efficient for state departments, while remaining innovative with our solutions, and ensuring the system remains modern over time. I am proud of the accomplishments of our team over the past year, and look forward to a new set of goals on the horizon, as we continue our commitment to optimizing the financial business management of the state.