PSC and Customers Lead Successful Fiscal Year-End Close
Closing the financial books at fiscal year-end, reopening the system, and completing the financial statements is a massive operation. This endeavor requires the dedication and hard work of many staff far in advance, leading up to midnight September 30, and weeks after. Program Support Center (PSC) went the extra mile to provide solutions, exemplifying our core values with strong internal and external partnerships.
“We have a good relationship with the folks at PSC. AHRQ’s interactions with the people at PSC have always been pleasant and positive. The staff are prompt in their responses. We don’t recall having any issues that PSC wasn’t able to assist or guide us in the right direction.”
— Tatum Greenidge, AHRQ
The fiscal year-end marks the end of annual financial activity for eight U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) operating divisions (OpDivs) and all 16 staff divisions of the Office of the Secretary, as well as acquisitions for the entire Department and other federal agencies. That financial information recorded in the accounting system as of September 30 becomes the basis for the Department’s financial statements that are reported to the President, Congress, and the American people.
"The process went very well and we were able to reopen the system in just four days,” said Mike Peckham, Acting Chief Financial Officer, PSC. “It was a success, thanks to the hard work of our staff and customer partnerships.”
It is important to reopen the system as soon as possible so that vital payments for services and obligations can continue without impacting agency missions. PSC was the first set of books under HHS’s Unified Financial Management System to open for fiscal year 2020 business, which is a sign of quality services and supported through our outstanding people, processes, and technology.
“The main goals coming into the end of the year are to ensure cancelling money [FY2014] is disbursed to satisfy any outstanding liabilities and annual money [FY2019] is obligated to further mission needs,” said Christian Burns, Systems Accounting Branch Chief. “The systems team is focused on ensuring everything gets recorded in the system before midnight. Christine Turner and her team [Financial Control Branch] are working directly with OpDiv budget teams toward the same goal. Simultaneously, we’re readying the accounting system to hit the ground running for October. The Financial Reporting Section picks up the baton after that to complete financial statements by November 15.”
There are many PSC staff involved in the year-end close from various offices. PSC’s accounting service team works closely with the financial reporting, payment management service (grants) and acquisitions team, which also operated around the clock including weekends with extra staff, to process all the final contract awards for expiring fiscal year 2019 money. By law, annual appropriations must be obligated by midnight of the corresponding fiscal year.
Preparing For Success
What made the process work so smoothly is all the preparation and relationship building with people we serve, as well as our existing strong relationships with each other. Our passion for operational excellence involves extensive planning, meetings, and mock closings starting back in March. The systems accounting team, led by Burns, works closely with the Assistant Secretary for Financial Resources’ Division of Systems Operations and Maintenance (DSOM) team to help coordinate closing activities. “We depend on DSOM’s support through mock closes and on-demand support and this year-end they delivered,” Burns said.
The Financial Control Branch, led by Branch Chief Christine Turner, does a kickoff with customers for year-end activities in June. “We get everyone amped up and ready to go, discuss deadlines and budgetary structure, resolve issues, build relationships and trust,” said Turner. “Our customers are partners in this success, with constant communication and coordination.” There are six accounting centers across HHS and through lots of hard work and collaboration with our customers, PSC is demonstrating leadership expertise in closing and quickly re-opening our books for business.
One of the OpDivs, the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ), works with PSC to meet the deadline to have appropriated and reimbursable funds obligated for grants, contracts, and Interagency Agreements. “PSC helps ensure that all AHRQ’s common accounting numbers are entered into the accounting system and communicates all the deadlines for processes to be completed,” said Janet Jordan, Budget Analyst, AHRQ.
Tatum Greenidge, Budget Analyst, AHRQ, added, “We have a good relationship with the folks at PSC. We know that we must work together to accomplish the tasks and do whatever we can to assist each other in accomplishing a successful end-of-year close-out. AHRQ’s interactions with the people at PSC have always been pleasant and positive. The staff are prompt in their responses. We don’t recall having any issues that PSC wasn’t able to assist or guide us in the right direction.”
Demele Fleming, Senior Budget Analyst, Office of the Inspector General (OIG), Office of Management and Policy, appreciates the partnership. “PSC has led us through another successful close-out,” she said. “The FY 2019 close-out process was effective in part to PSC’s collaboration and engagement with our office. The support and guidance PSC provided us throughout the FY 2019 close-out process made what is normally a stressful process more manageable. The attentiveness to emails, details, and questions was greatly appreciated by OIG’s budget team.
“We would also like to extend a special thanks to Christine [Turner] and John [Cummings] for all their hard work and guidance in working with us and ensuring that OIG successfully closed its books.”
A Series Of Events
The year-end process goes in cycles. One is getting all the data in the system. The acquisitions group gets the contracts awarded, OpDivs award grants, with feeder systems recording payroll, travel, and other accounting events. The grants team also prepares and generates the expenditure, advance, and accrual files that are provided to the financial systems. All of this activity happens up until and through October 1 to record PSC customers’ financial positions.
PSC then rolls the appropriate balances forward from one fiscal year to the next and loads customer budgets into the new fiscal year, allowing operations to commence in the new fiscal year. Next, the PSC Financial Reporting Service team analyzes data in the system and finalizes year-end reports that are consolidated at the Department level and provided to the U.S. Department of Treasury and Office of Management and Budget. Finally, independent auditors review the data and render an opinion on the financial statements by November 15.
PSC paid 75 percent of all grants across the federal government, managing program dollars for agencies through the Payment Management System (PMS).
For FY 19, PMS disbursed 458,000 payments for $564 billion, an increase of $16 billion over FY 18 and $46 billion over FY 17. The daily average paid out each day for FY 19 was $2.2 billion. We also collected over $2.4 billion in principal and over $17 million in interest. We service HHS and 12 non-HHS departments and agencies.
“For payroll and payment management, we do all of HHS and other federal agencies,” explained Mary Woolston, Senior Financial Advisor.
“Many people contribute to the success of the year-end process,” said Mary Lanham, Chief, Customer Liaison Branch [Payment Management Services]. “Our staff go above and beyond, with hard work and dedication every day.”
Congratulations to our teams! All the efforts have paid off!
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