Doing Business With the Financial Management Service

General info: FMS<@VM>The CIO file: Nancy Fleetwood

Things to note

FMS has made a major move to electronic collection methods. It aims to offer an easy-to-use, convenient, secure electronic methods to pay and collect federal funds. Most payments are disbursed through electronic funds transfers, the rest through checks. Annually, FMS disburses nearly a billion payments worth more than $1.7 trillion, and collects $2 trillion in federal revenue.

I was pleased to be able to find information on doing business with FMS so easily. ( You can get to the Web site via the "About the FMS" link on the homepage. There is an informative link there with contact information depending on the type of services you're looking to offer the agency. Be sure to check out the links for Treasury Forecast of Contractor Opportunities and for specific contracts. I like that the date of the last update to this information is provided right there as well.

A bit of history about the agency: Treasury created the Fiscal Service in 1940. In 1974, it was reorganized, and the merger of several different departments created the Bureau of Government Financial Operations. In 1984, the bureau was renamed the Financial Management Service, reflecting a renewed interest on greater efficiency and economy in government financial management.

Financial Management Service

Liberty Center Building

401 14th St. SW

Washington, DC 20227

(202) 874-6950

Founded: 1984

(Roots go back to 1940.)

Commissioner: Richard Gregg

Employees: 2,100

What it does: The Federal Management Service could be called our nation's accountant. FMS does centralized payment, collection and reporting services for the government. It keeps the federal accounts and is a repository of information about the country's state of finances. This agency issues payments, such as Social Security benefits, tax refunds and fees for goods and services, to people and businesses. It collects debts owed to the government, such as fines, loan repayments and custom duties. It also supports federal agencies in improving their own financial management efforts in education, consulting and accounting operations via a franchise fund business.

Major components: FMS is a bureau of the Treasury Department. It has a relationship with almost every federal agency in the executive branch, issuing payments and requests for payment on their behalf. FMS runs an operations unit out of Washington that manages and operates federal payment systems and disburses about 85 percent of all payments. There are four regional financial centers in Austin, Texas, Kansas City, Mo., Philadelphia and San Francisco.

Number crunching:

2005 request: $231 million

2004 budget: $228.6 million

2003 budget: $220.7 million

Nancy Fleetwood

Full title: Assistant commissioner for information resources and chief information officer

Took the job: February 2002

Hometown: Hyattsville, Md.

Home now: Reston, Va.

Family: Husband, four children. Has one grandchild

Hobbies: Favorite is biking; recently rode the complete Chesapeake and Ohio Canal Towpath (184.5 miles) from Cumberland, Md., to Georgetown in Washington over four days during the Memorial Day holiday. Also an avid reader, usually has five or six books going at once. Enjoys quilting and "other artsy things."

Last book read: "Michelangelo and the Pope's Ceiling," by Ross King. Currently reading two books on the C&O Canal.

Alma mater: Two undergraduate degrees: a bachelor of science degree in applied design from the University of Maryland; a bachelor's degree in business administration with a focus on accounting from the University of Maryland University College. Working on a master's degree in computer systems management with a concentration on information assurance at the University of Maryland. Holds a certificate in information assurance and one for chief information officers from the National Defense University.

WT: You have an interesting academic background. How did you end up in information technology?

Fleetwood: With the first two degrees, most accountants aren't usually artists, and it made me very creative. I took a lot of computer classes as well. I ended up being responsible for a lot of systems development. I was project manager for our goal system for a lot of years in addition to managing a large organization. A couple of years ago, my boss moved me over to IT. I did debt collection for a while, led programs and developed the Treasury Offset Program [a centralized offset program that FMS runs under Debt Management Services to collect delinquent debts owed to federal agencies and states]. It was just one of those things. I've always studied, I read a lot and keep up on technology, so it just worked out this way.

I think one of the key things for a successful CIO is understanding business, not just technology. You must understand technology to help get the job done, but if all you can talk about is technology, it's difficult to bridge the two. I moved around the agency a lot, and I'm really familiar with the work we do. That helps in the CIO's job.

WT: How does technology help you perform your agency's mission?

Fleetwood: In our agency, technology is a pipeline. We're in the finance business. We bring financial information in and out, and technology is a tool to make that a smooth delivery.

WT: What are your main technology concerns? Security? Wireless? Patch management?

Fleetwood: I think our concerns are similar to those of any other agency or company. Everyone is concerned about security, making sure you have access control, that patching is done well, etc. We've been pushing on continuity of operations to ensure systems continue to run. We're staying current as hardware and software goes to new versions.

WT: What do you look for in companies with which you are thinking of doing business?

Fleetwood: A track record, good references, that they've been successful in what they do ? those are the most compelling things.

WT: For a company that is new to working with FMS and has something to offer you, where is a good place to start?

Fleetwood: The main way we find companies is through requests for information and requests for proposals. We make evaluations based on the response. I get a lot of unsolicited e-mails, and that's just not the right way to come into us. Written materials are always useful to send. We look for people on the GSA schedules in a big way.

WT: A year from now, where do you see FMS' technology capabilities?

Fleetwood: I would say we'll be continuing as we are. We're state of the art in many areas, and we want to stay on top of that. We've worked really hard in putting in our enterprise architecture and creating our technology reference model. That allows us to lay out a plan regarding what kind of hardware and software we have, what business we have and make a target for where we want to be in business and technology.

A lot of [systems and databases] are based on the technology of the time. With a technology reference model, you find you have to be in line with it. It helps us focus our workforce and vendors, and we attach it to RFPs. There is always a new piece of technology out there, and we in the field want to use the new tools. But there can be too many new gadgets; you don't want to use them all.

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