Running four weeks behind schedule, the Coast Guard workforce was notified Monday that today was the new go-live scheduled date for the cutover and transition to the Financial Systems Modernization Solution, with more than 16,000 vendor invoices and employee vouchers expected to be in backlog post-transition at the Finance Center.
The Oracle-based Financial Systems Modernization Solution, or FSMS, was previously implemented by DHS at the Countering Weapons of Mass Destruction Office and the Transportation Security Administration, with the Coast Guard the third agency to begin using it.
Announcing the TSA transition in November 2020, DHS said the new system “brings automated and integrated controls, uses common accounting lines, standard business practices, and the most up-to-date security, moving agencies away from transaction-level processes to focus on data reporting and analytics.”
“Being on a new system will make our mission-support functions more efficient and effective, ultimately freeing up more resources for improving and supporting front-line operations,” TSA Chief Financial Officer Pat Rose said at the time, calling the transition challenging yet “groundbreaking.”
At the end of October, Rear Adm. Mark Fedor said he was “confident” but “realistic” about transactions migrating smoothly from the U.S. Coast Guard’s transitional financial management system into the new system. Fedor noted that the Coast Guard transition is “most complex just because of our broad range of missions associated with it.”
Coast Guard employees were told in May that the move to FSMS — “the largest financial system transition in Coast Guard history” that “will affect everyone in the Coast Guard” — would have continuity built in for prioritized processing of military, civilian, and retirement pay. Web-based FSMS training courses were announced at the time, with system testing running from July through the beginning of September.
FSMS will interface with numerous Coast Guard systems including ALMIS, NESSS, FLS, MISLE, DPOMS, MOSIS, Direct Access, AUXDATA, and ETS2, and will connect with external applications from the National Finance Center, Defense Logistics Agency, GSA, and Treasury Department.
The transition was supposed to be complete by Nov. 17. The legacy Core Accounting System Suite was shut off day before the start of the fiscal year on Oct. 1, transitioning to the temporary Cutover Financial System — “a temporary repository to document all the transactions that occurred during this turnover period,” Fedor said.
In the new memo to the workforce, Fedor said that “all stakeholders are working hard to execute the earliest possible Go-Live date” and noted that “there may initially be system performance issues or latency due to a significant number of new users in the FSMS system that previously only TSA, CWMD, and FINCEN used.”
USCG implemented an FSMS support team to help employees navigate the transition, with the majority of user queries answered through posting questions online and others bumped up to help tickets. Most issues have been resolved via either of the methods in two days, and Fedor said the support system “will be more robust” after going live.
“Throughout this transition financial policies and support team processes for emergency purchases remain unchanged,” the memo said. “If there is an emergent need, Support Teams/Units can implement their emergency procurement process regardless of their familiarity of FSMS. Like common troubles with our legacy systems, system error or users’ challenges should not be an impediment supporting operations.”
With the FINCEN backlog of vendor invoices and employee vouchers, Fedor said, “priority will be placed on utilities, small businesses, member payments, and large dollar contract payment” while “the remaining invoices will generally be processed on first in, first out methodology.”
Fedor told WFED’s Federal Drive in October that messaging about the FSMS transition has gone well with awareness and training moving forward.
“We’ve reached literally the deck-plate level of cutters around the Coast Guard. And they know that this system is coming,” he said. “So again, I think apprehension of this transition, some nervousness, but also excitement that we will be better off for it once we’re able to go live.”