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ASAP Customer Advisory Board
Meeting Minutes
March 21, 2006, in Alexandria, VA


Financial Management Service:

Carol Cole; ASAP Operations, Regional Operations Christine Ricci; Manager, ASAP Customer Liaison Margie Springer and Ashton Dunbar; ASAP.gov Customer Liaison

Federal Reserve Board of Richmond:
Adele Allen, Customer Business Administration Function (CBAF) Staff

ASAP Customer Board (ACB):
Arthur LeBlanc; ACB Chair and Federal Program Agency (FPA) Representative Dee Ann Haworth; ACB Vice Chair and Indian Tribal Organization Representative Jennifer Criss and Anita Easterday; FPA Representatives Steve Allison and Jerry Scribner; State Representatives Lisa Thompson and Maria Vargas-Capriles; University Representatives Linda Holiman, Non-Profit Organization Representative

Absent ACB Members:
Rick Noll; Federal Program Agency Representative

Approval of November Minutes
The meeting minutes from our conference call of November 17, 2005, were formally approved and will be posted to FMS's web site (www.fms.treas.gov/asap).

Digital Signatures Update
Digital Signatures were originally planned as part of Release 2.0. Unfortunately, the environment for Digital Signatures will not be ready until June 2006. Until then, Certifying Officers (COs) can still use the present system to certify authorizations.

No action is needed for COs currently provisioned for the Secure Payment System (SPS). Additional action is needed for COs who only certify authorizations in ASAP. Provisioning COs will be done on an FPA-by-FPA basis.

The Authorization transactions that are affected by digital signatures are:

  • Certify Online Authorizations
  • Certify Batch Authorizations
  • Certify an Individual Authorization within a Batch

Q: Will COs need to travel to one of the three Regional Financial Centers (San Francisco, Kansas City, and Philadelphia) to be provisioned?
A: We are gathering information to determine who is already provisioned as a CO for SPS as well as COs who only certify in ASAP.gov. More likely, Trusted Registration Agents (TRAs) will be able to travel to COs to provision them. TRAs can either provision COs for either SPS or ASAP.gov.

Q: It seems as though this is going to be another layer of security.
A: The Digital Signature process is twofold: It provides verification that uniquely identifies the sender as well as providing validation of the transaction.

Q: Does this relate to Homeland Security Presidential Directive (HSPD) 12?
A: HSPD 12 contains the Policy for a Common Identification Standard for Federal Employees and Contractors and relates to access by individuals to IT Systems like ASAP.gov.

Release 2.0 and 2.7 Update - Recipient Organization Internet Enrollment

The implementation date for 2.7 has been changed to June 26, 2006.

Issues Concerning Delayed Implementation
In attempting to tie their banking data to specific FPAs, we were getting calls from Financial Officials (FOs) who were not seeing all of the FPAs they do business with.

We discovered that organizations with dual Identifications (IDs) such as a Payment Requestor/Recipient Organization (PR/RO) ID were not mapped properly. We are attempting to verify that all FOs have been provisioned correctly.

We are still running into the difficulty of obtaining or verifying Data Universal Number Sequence (DUNS) and/or Taxpayer Identification Number (TIN) for Recipient Organizations (ROs). We have also had difficulty in obtaining individual email addresses for RO officials. Shared, office, and group emails are considered a security violation and are not allowed in ASAP.gov.

To be eligible for implementation, at a minimum an RO must have a Point of Contact (POC), Head of Organization (HOO), Administrative Official (AO), and an FO.

We will be contacting each POC and AO of every RO to very that their profile information is correct.

Status of Financial Officials Provisioning:
The deadline for FOs to link their banking data to specific FPAs has been extended due to the issues noted earlier.

Requests From Customer Board For Change In Process
A special report (currently being obtained from CBAF) was requested from the National Institute for Standards and Technology (NIST) as an enhancement to show all inactive ROs and payment requestors associated with an FPA's ALCs or regions. NIST also had an additional request to have all Reports and Inquiries identified by ASAP Account ID and not by Sender ID. The reports will be included in Release 3.0 and may be useful to other FPAs.

The Bureau of the Public Debt (BPD) requested the process for the Extended Unemployment Compensation Account (EUCA) Returns be corrected. ASAP.gov errors prohibit states from returning EUCA funds thus requiring a manual process for BPD staff. Pending issues have not been resolved and therefore, the update will not be part of Release 3.0.

We are in the process of looking at old enhancement requests to determine if they are still needed (e.g., mainframe requests) or pending (e.g., the request to have the Payment Performance Date Field added). Those that are approved will be included in upcoming releases.

Lessons learned from Financial Officials

  • Ensure RO information is mapped correctly.
  • Ensure FOs are provisioned correctly.
  • If FOs are having difficulty, they should contact their servicing Regional Financial Center.
  • The time for FOs to link their banking data to specific FPAs has been extended.

Training

  • Dedicated training environment
    The training application allows current users the ability to access their data (e.g., account numbers, balances) in a practice environment without any impact to their production data. The current training environment is not always available because it competes with other applications such as testing. The dedicated training environment will eliminate this problem.

  • New tutorials
    A new, more robust tutorial will be provided as part of Release 2.0. It has a new "Let Me Try" function in addition to the "Show Me" function and can be accessed from the Training Environment.

  • Updated Help feature
    The updated Help feature will include information on Internet Enrollment.

  • Training by RFCs
    In the past we had scheduled specific dates and locations. Unfortunately, due to low attendance and 'no shows', we had to cancel many of those training sessions. In the near future, we will be posting a registration sheet on the FMS ASAP web site (www.fms.treas.gov/asap) for those that are interested in training. Training will be offered at the RFCs located in San Francisco, CA, Kansas City, MO, Philadelphia, PA, and in Washington, DC. Once we get an appropriate number of attendees, specific dates, timeframes, and locations will be announced. We are currently in the process of "Train the Trainer" classes at the RFCs.

Q: Our FO is uninvolved in this process. Can another email be sent to our FO so that our banking data can be linked?
A: The FRB will work with FOs to ensure banking data is linked.

Q: Can a parallel email be sent to specific people within an organization?
A: The ASAP.gov system is not designed to send carbon copy emails to specific individuals since the FO email contains ID information. However, a reminder email can be sent to the FO to ensure action is taken.

Q: A Board member noted that she had been receiving phone calls from FMS rather than emails.
A: It was noted that the Board member recently changed her email address. Hence, since there was an invalid email for her, she was receiving phone calls to obtain the information we needed.

Q: How are email addresses updated?
A: It is currently a manual process. With the implementation of Release 2.0, individual users will have the ability to update their "My Information" profile.

Q: We don't regularly interact with our FO. Is there a way to view which FPA is linked to specific banking data?
A: An inquiry can be performed on banking data.

Q: As an FPA, is there a ratio of grantees who successfully complete the required tasks (e.g., linking banking data, providing DUNS or TIN info)?
A: At this point, no. ROs have been set up with two separate profiles with, in some instances, partial information contained in each profile. We are in the process of cleaning up and verifying the data. The key factor will be the DUNS and TIN information provided by the ROs. We will provide a listing to FPAs of ROs that have not given us the needed DUNS and/or TIN information.

Q: Does information concerning the DUNS and/or TIN requirement need to be posted as a broadcast message to the ASAP.gov Homepage?
A: This item is one of seven items currently posted on the ASAP.gov Homepage.

Q: What is the status of the draft FPA memo FMS provided to the ACB?
A: An FPA notice was posted to the FMS ASAP web site (www.fms.treas.gov/asap) on April 21, 2006. FMS also sent out information to FPA Primary Contacts via email.

Q: What is the role of the Enrollment Initiator (EI)?
A: The EI at the FPA begins the enrollment process by identifying the POC at the RO. If the POC is incorrectly identified, an email will be sent to the EI.

Q: Are there any roles that cannot be combined?
A: For the RO, the POC cannot also have the role of HOO. For the FPA, the EI role cannot be combined with the CO and FPA PR.

Q: What is the status of the monthly listing highlighting the active vs. inactive ROs?
A: We are in the process of deleting or closing inactive ROs with no or old account information. For those closed accounts, ROs will have to re-enroll in order to draw funds.

Release 3.0 - Reports, Notifications, & Notification of Change

The projected implementation date is November 2006.

An enhancement request from an ACB member was approved which will allow FPAs to retrieve all accounts by ALC/Region for a given date range.

For Notifications, a wording redesign will be implemented to allow users the ability to identify the user name as well as provide a description of the Notification (e.g., an increase to a specific account). The enhancement to Notifications will also eliminate duplicate or repetitive Notifications as well as allow users to delete Notifications without reading them.

Notification of Change (NOC) will automate the processing of NOCs to ensure timely and accurate updates of banking data changes sent by financial institutions. An email notification will be sent to the FO. A banking change request will be sent to the user's servicing RFC. For ACH payments, it will take seven days. For FedWire payments, it will take 3 days. COs at the FPAs will also be notified of the change to verify bank changes.

We are in the process of fixing problems related to the current Report and Inquiries function. We are also in the process of working with the National Science Foundation (NSF) to provide a report that reflects balances in their true state. We do not currently have a title for this NSF report that the Office of Surface Mining within the Department of Interior requested as well.

We are also in the process of automating the following manual reports:

  • Agency Reconciliation Report
  • Agency Settlement Report

Q: Why do I keep getting errors when I put a negative number in the Cash on Hand field?
A: The FRB will research that issue and get back to you.

Q: Is there a process where I can get the results of a requested report faster?
A: If an inquiry is requested, the results are immediate since they are a snapshot of information needed. If you need to wait for the report results, we recently added a moving bar to signify that the system is working.

Q: In the legacy system, fields were pre-populated where a user could keep the account ID, but change the dates. That option is no longer available to users who now have to start from the beginning each time a date range changes.
A: Since functionality contained in the legacy (mainframe) system should have been carried over to ASAP.gov, we will look into that issue.

Q: For Account Statement Inquiries vs. Reports, information is identified differently (e.g., for Inquiries, RP is the code for Returned Payments; for Reports, it is CL).
A: We will look into that issue.

Q: For Account Statement Inquiries, the leading zero is still not included for all ROs.
A: We thought that issue was resolved. We will look into it.

Q: For reporting and oversight purposes, FNS gets an email notification for each user from each region during September (in preparation for the new fiscal year) stating whether account rollovers were successful or not. Since the total number of emails can easily exceed 1,500, can ASAP generate instead a notification of unsuccessful rollovers to reduce the number of emails we receive?
A: With Release 4.0, users will have the ability to turn off select notifications. For now, you have the option to delete all Notifications. We would like to obtain more information from you about this.

Q: The Date Range feature is not working. I'm retrieving Notifications from a specific date (12/15/05), yet the system is generating Notifications since previous February.
A: The date field does not appear to be working. We would like to obtain a copy of the screen shot of your results.

Q: Has any progress been made on Oklahoma's Enhancement request to be notified if a change is made to banking data?
A: As part of Release 2.0, there will be a role called Centralized State Coordinator who will get an email if an RO changes banking data.

Q: Can ASAP.gov parallel the categories contained in SF 424, Application for Federal Assistance? It provides a distinction between private or state colleges.
A: We would be interested in taking a look at the form.

Release 4.0 - Federal Program Agency Internet Enrollment

The projected implementation date is April 2007

  • Provides an on-line enrollment process for Federal Program Agencies
  • Will include an additional requested report not yet defined.

An overview of the process was provided. For the FPA, there is a new role: the Enrollment Initiator (EI). The EI begins the enrollment process by identifying the POC at the RO. If the POC information is incorrect, an email will be sent to the EI.

For the Department of Education (ED), we will be adding a Payment Request Reviewer Only role. It is a new category and will be the only role an ED person can have to review accounts that are subject to agency review.

The FPA Enrollment Module is 90 percent complete.

Q: When will ASAP.gov be implementing Batch processing?
A: Batch processing for ED will occur with Releases 5.0 and 6.0. Batch processing is an environment issue since it deals with an XML gateway. Since ASAP.gov is housed within the Treasury Web Infrastructure Application (TWAI), the XML gateway needs to be built within the TWAI and not just within the ASAP.gov system.

Q: What is an XML gateway?
A: It is a new way to do bulk data transfers via the internet. Since there is a high cost for establishing a gateway, we cannot impose the cost on users.

Q: Is the implementation schedule of ASAP.gov dependent on the TWAI and the FRB?
A: We have committed to April and November implementation timeframes. In about a year, we will be moving to the Rapid Application Development (RAD) process for future implementations.

Q: Until Digital Signatures is implemented, how is a new CO approved?
A: FPAs need to submit the paper nomination form. A proper 210 must be on file. Until the designation is approved by the servicing RFC, COs authority is not effective.

Q: What is a 1031?
A: It is a unique and highly controlled program that deals with large dollar and time sensitive payments within the ASAP.gov system. An FPA enters into an agreement with a financial institution (FI) and an RO. The FI clears checks issued to service providers by ROs. The FI is paid back through FedWire. The bulk of FedWire payments are 1031s. An example is reimbursed payments to FIs acting for states for Medicare and Medicaid disbursements.

Schedule for Additional Releases

Release 5.0, Part 1 of ED's requirements will be implemented November 2007 and will include batch payments as well as batch enrollments. Implementation of this release is dependent on the XML gateway.

Release 6.0, Part 2 of ED's requirements will be implemented April 2008 and will include ACH Debit for Returns as well as Current Debt Offset.

ACH Debit for Returns

  • Allows recipients to return payments or partial payments if a grant recipient draws down too much money and wants to return some of it.
  • Recipients will use ASAP.gov to initiate an ACH debit to their bank account for the amount they want to return
  • .
  • Your bank must allow the account to be debited.

Current Debt Offset

  • Current debt is defined as debt that is less than 18 months old
  • Allows a Federal Agency to withhold a percentage or whole dollar amount from each payment drawn by an organization that owes money to that Agency
  • This applies only to outstanding current debt within a specific agency. This functionality cannot 'cross' Departmental lines (e.g., Department of Commerce cannot offset debt from Department of Health and Human Services).

Voice Response System (VRS) Users
Enrollment for VRS Users is still a paper-based process.

Since the legacy system required a dedicated computer and specialized software, many users wanted the VRS as an option. Approximately 500 VRS users have been called and all have internet access. Of the 500 VRS users, approximately 50 percent have their banking data linked.

The VRS limits users to ACH only.

FPA concerns were raised about funds being returned due to an audit disallowance. If $30,000 was disbursed and due to an audit disallowance, $50,000 needs to be returned, we cannot return the $50,000.

ACH rules allow funds to be returned as a 'Returned Payment' within a specific timeframe. If it is beyond the timeframe, the funds cannot be sent back via ACH. This would have to be handled outside the ASAP.gov system.

FY 2005 ASAP Statistics

Total # ACH Credits: 102,576
Total $ ACH Credits: $41,336,141,031
    Total # Fedwire: $61,040
    Total $ Fedwire: $382,488,677,319
  Total $ Disbursed: $423,824,818,350

Other
Timeframe for password changes from 45 days to 90 days.

Debt Limit Ceiling
The Debt Limit Ceiling allows the automatic suspension of accounts while allowing other payments to go through the ASAP.gov system. The FRB is in the process of coding for the status of 'Temporary Suspend' which would allow approved payments to flow through the ASAP.gov system.

Posting of ASAP.gov Important Notices - difficulty searching for them on the FMS ASAP Website
For important notices posted to the FMS ASAP web site, since the FMS Webmaster will not allow full text to appear on the Overview page, FMS will include the specific URL in the email notification to all users so that the notice can be launched immediately.

An ACB member read an email noting that the ASAP.gov system is the most user friendly system they've used.

If a user is having problems, they need to contact their servicing RFC first. For password issues, contact CBAF. Users are urged to contact FMS only as a last resort.

Next Meeting
A conference call is scheduled for Thursday, June 29th at 1:00 p.m. ET. Agenda topics will include the nomination and election of a new Chair.


   Last Updated:  March 14, 2014