Homeland Security Today’s annual Holiday Hero Awards honor those who have made lasting contributions to our nation’s security and risen to meet myriad challenges, recognizing those who have dedicated their careers to making our nation safer within the homeland security enterprise and those who have used their talents, determination, or platform to contribute to a safer country.
Often the “back-end” side of the mission is the most neglected, and yet often the most important. Recipients of the Backbone award have accomplished extraordinary feats to ensure that the support functions of an agency maximize efficiency, support mission and account for new advancements and technology.
Carol Taylor, Accounting Systems Division Chief, U.S. Coast Guard
Carol A. Taylor is recognized for her oversight, dedication, thought leadership, and exemplary contributions in supporting the successful implementation of the new DHS Financial Systems Modernization Solution (FSMS), the new financial system for USCG, TSA, and CWMD. Taylor’s contributions to helping successfully implement this important financial system while successfully operating the legacy system to meet the needs of three major components of DHS are nothing short of extraordinary.
Over 10 years ago, DHS and FINCEN began to realize the need for a consolidated financial system with improved processes, workflows, and reporting mechanisms to serve DHS components’ modern financial requirements that supports a user base of over 19,000 resources dependent upon its financial systems. Through the Financial Management Service Improvement Initiative (FMSII), Taylor, along with the Integrated Product Teams from DHS, FINCEN, and contractors, discovered disparate financial and asset systems, manual spreadsheets, and duplicate processes performed by internal stakeholders to support the delivery of complex business processing functions across a daily, weekly, monthly, and annual deadline. Compliance with federal financial regulations, laws, and standards required checklists and SMEs with historical knowledge of working with FINCEN and DHS component agencies to avoid issues or delays within these processes.
Furthermore, consistent weekend and night work was critical to business processes, patching, and security of the CAS Suite to complete processes on time. For years, FINCEN used the CAS Suite to manage the financial, asset, and procurement functions for the CG, and other DHS component customers, including the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) and the Countering of Weapons of Mass Destruction Office (CWMD). FINCEN also used an integrated master schedule to run the business processes for these components. The CAS Suite consisted of 14 systems and feeder applications to meet the varying financial and reporting needs to support each component’s financial requirements.
To successfully move to the FSMS, Taylor ensured the following:
- CAS Suite availability while the data migration occurred for millions of lines of code for each DHS component.
- Continuation of complex month-end closing on schedule and by the processing deadline for each DHS component.
- More than 800 million records and transactions FINCEN is responsible for annually were consistently maintained.
Taylor did this successfully and, in the process, continued to lead FINCEN staff and contractors in producing workarounds in CAS Suite to provide cost and time savings while preparing each component for their respective FSMS migration. As part of her FSMS migration efforts, Taylor implemented a dedicated training center to teach staff how to use the system and continue to be successful in their respective financial roles. Taylor also understood that a dedicated specialized help desk team would need to be established to support the administrative and systems requirements for each DHS component customer’s successful move to the FSMS.
Taylor is a key contributor and thought leader in the overall success of the FSMS. The complexity and detail required to understand major facets of the federal, DHS, and each DHS component’s needs are critical for her to be able to guide and provide recommendations from the everyday user to the DHS executive stakeholders throughout the business process re-engineering efforts. When delays occurred throughout the transition of the FSMS with the developers, Taylor provided key workarounds. She has also enabled quicker service time by using the same standards across business processes, organizing a true help center for resources to get answers quickly and readily, and ensuring the security of FSMS to thwart the ever-growing cybersecurity needs DHS faces. FINCEN is a better organization due to Taylor’s undeniable and critical leadership.