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ASAP Customer Board (ACB)
Meeting Minutes
April 14, 2005


Customer Board Participants:
Art LeBlanc, Chair and Federal Program Agency Representative; Dee Ann Haworth, Vice Chair and Indian Tribal Organization Representative; Steve Allison and Jerry Scribner, State Representatives; Jennifer Criss and Anita Easterday, Federal Program Agency Representatives; Lisa Thompson, University Representative.

Federal Reserve Bank Participants:
Teresa Warren, Customer Business Application Function (CBAF) Staff.

Financial Management Service Participants:
Elizabeth Oldenburg, Director, Intergovernmental Programs Division; Christine Ricci, Manager, ASAP Customer Liaison Staff; Carol Cole, Project Manager, ASAP Operations; Christopher Tighe, ASAP Development Team; Margie Springer, ASAP Customer Liaison Team.

Appoval of November Minutes:
After a brief discussion, the minutes of the January 27, 2005, ACB Conference Call Meeting were approved.

New Internet Enrollment:
The following description of the proposed new Internet Enrollment process was provided to the ACB members:

  • Federal Program Agency Enrollment Initiator (EI)
    • Identifies Recipient Organization and Point of Contact to be enrolled
    • Cannot be the same person as the Certifying Officer (CO)
  • Point of Contract (POC)
    • Identifies organization officials
      • Authorization Official
      • Financial Official
  • Head of the Organization (HOO)
    • Approves organization officials
  • Authorization Official (AO
    • Enters organization's information and users
  • Financial Official (FO)
    • Enters banking information

The biggest change in the new web-based Internet Enrollment process is that there will no longer be any "Payment Requestor Organizations." Instead, there will be Recipient Organizations and Recipients (individuals) with the payment requestor as a role tied to a Recipient.

There is a new FPA role in the Internet Enrollment process. The EI starts the enrollment process by identifying the Recipient Organization with an EIN and DUNS number (October 2003 requirement) and POC.

The POC then identifies two organization officials: The AO and the FO.

The HOO then approves organization officials. While there may be multiple POCs within a Recipient Organization, there can only be one HOO to approve the organization officials. The HOO can also appoint a Re-delegated Head of Organization (RHOO) to approve future designations and approvals.

It is important to note that within Recipient Organizations, the POC, the organization officials (the AO and FO), and the HOO can be the same person.

The POC within a Recipient Organization can name more than one AO. The AO is responsible for entering the Recipient Organization's contact information (address and phone numbers) as well as user information.

The POC within a Recipient Organization can also name more than one FO. The FO is responsible for entering the banking information to receive payments via ACH, Fedwire, or both. The FO must acknowledge standard template language stating that the FO is responsible for the correctness of the banking data. ASAP.gov sends a Prenote to the financial institution to verify the bank account. A financial institution has 6 business days to respond to a Prenote. For Fedwire, the account is held for three days to give the Federal agency time to ensure that the organization has met any requirements the agency has for adding banking data.

For the new enrollment process, each person gets up to 45 days to complete their portion. If one person exceeds their 45 days, the entire enrollment process has to be restarted. FPAs can query an organization's status in the enrollment process.

An organization must have one active bank account at all times.

Previously, FMS' Regional Financial Centers (RFCs) verified a Recipient Organization's banking information on behalf of FPAs as part of the enrollment process. However, FMS' Chief Counsel's office has advised us that the accuracy of the banking data is the responsibility of the FPA's CO. Hence, we designed the new enrollment process so that COs have responsibility for delivery of the payment(s).

Inherent in the new Enrollment process is the interdependency of each role in the process. This structure was intentionally developed so that if there were any criminal activity associated with grant funding, collusion would be needed at various levels. Redesigned Enrollment, Release 2.0 is limited to Requestor Organization Internet Enrollment. Release 2.0 will also have a new look and feel to the ASAP.gov screens. They will have a much more professional look.

Release 3.0 will include Redesigned Enrollment for FPAs, 1031s, Individuals, and Batch Recipients.

Q: What happens in the case of users receiving funding from multiple FPAs?
A: Since the same information will likely be captured in the initial enrollment, the first FPA will initiate and complete the new enrollment process. FPAs can query organizations to see where they are in the Enrollment process. After the process is complete, additional FPAs may enroll the existing organization. Subsequent enrollments of existing organizations are a much shorter process. Existing officials are notified that another agency is enrolling them. Authorizing Officials have the option of adding new users. Financial officials MUST take an action to either define a new bank account for the new agency or to tie an existing bank account to the new agency

New Certifying Officer Functionality

Digital Signatures:
The use of Digital Signatures by FPA COs will be implemented on an agency-by-agency basis. (Digital Signatures are not tied to the Redesigned Enrollment and Release 2.0 effort.) FMS will be traveling to in-person-proof agency COs.

Deputy CFO Letter:
We plan to send a letter to all Deputy Chief Financial Officers and the primary contacts at the FPA concerning a CO's responsibility relating to the validity of banking data. While FMS will still validate the Routing Transit Number (RTN) and send a Prenote, the CO will be responsible for the accuracy of banking data. FMS will ensure that the ACB members receive a copy of the letter.

Q: Dee Ann commented that people in her office are still experiencing "Page Not Found" errors.
A: If users are experiencing "Page Not Found" errors, they should download the patch posted on FMS' ASAP website. Updated information will be posted to the FMS ASAP website instructing users who, after downloading the patch, are still experiencing these errors to contact the CBAF staff at (804) 694-8384. Screen shots and/or a description of the tasks performed before receiving the error, as well as the time the error occurred, are very helpful information in resolving these problems. Since ASAP.gov has multiple firewalls and the user organization likely has firewalls we are also researching whether the errors are generated because of a "timing out" issue. Another possibility is whether virus scans are running and interfering. In this specific instance only, we recommend using the browser's back button. However, if you can access ASAP.gov at your home computer without any problems, you should inform your Information Technology area of this discrepancy.

Q: It was noted that FPA legal counsel needs an opportunity to discuss the CO requirement
A: Information will be included in the letter to the Deputy CFOs

Tour of San Antonio FRB:
Our hosts at the San Antonio FRB provided a tour of their facilities.

ASAP.gov Updates:
Training
For users interested in signing up for ASAP.gov training, we will have a sign up process posted on the FMS ASAP website. Once we have about 10 registered participants at one location, we will schedule a training date and time. The training locations are: Philadelphia, Kansas City, San Francisco, and Washington, DC. This is a slightly different process from last year where training dates were scheduled. Only 1 or 2 users would sign up only to have one or both cancel. Since a lot of time, energy, and resources are put into preparation for training, we hope this process will work better. If we are requested to give on-site training to individual agencies, we will see if other users in the area can also participate. We don't charge for training. Your cost is limited to travel expenses.

Currently the ASAP.gov system has a dedicated training environment for use so that all users can practice with data to mimic specific actions with no effect on their production data. We encourage all users to use the training application site. We've recently added a banner to the training environment to ensure you're not posting information to the wrong environment. The banner tells you that you are in the training environment. The current schedule for the training environment availability is posted on the FMS ASAP website. By the end of October, the training environment will be moved to another platform to provide greater availability and accessibility.

The ASAP.gov system also has tutorials that provide animated step-by-step assistance with each process within the ASAP.gov system. Since they are currently difficult to find, we are in the process of adding the tutorials as an option on the ASAP.gov Home Page.

Users are encouraged to sign up for e-mail notifications on the FMS ASAP website. Once registered, users will receive an automatic e-mail notification whenever the information on FMS ASAP website is updated (e.g., important notices, user group meetings, training dates).

ASAP.gov Fixes
Copies of the latest fixes recently posted on the ASAP website were provided to ACB members. We encouraged ACB members to check and verify whether the fixes actually work.

Legacy Sunset
Contingency/Failover:
There was a successful Contingency/Failover test in the beginning of January. However, other applications were a part of the test and the process took longer than we expected. The follow-up test we had in February to get a more accurate assessment of the recovery time for ASAP.gov was successful. Since ASAP and AMA share the same server, they were tested together. We will have a stand-alone test of ASAP at a later date.

Reports and Inquiries:
FMS needs user feedback on whether Reports and Inquiries are working. Since the listing of fixes was recently posted to the ASAP website, ACB members can verify a fix and assist FMS in determining what still needs to be done.

Another related issue for Reports and Inquiries was the tendency for ASAP.gov to drop the leading '0' if a recipient ID begins with a '0'. The CBAF staff will look into resolving that issue.

We will not cut off legacy ASAP until Reports and Inquiries are fixed.

Q: Is there a way to run Reports and Inquiries on the weekends?
A: The system goes down Saturday at 4 AM until Sunday at 4 PM ET. The down time is key for servicing of the mainframe. As long as we are still using the mainframe application, servicing will be done on weekends. Having the system available 24/7 is not possible until we move the databases off the mainframe.

A comment was made about the Inquiry for account balances. If today's date is used, the system generates an error message. If the date field is left blank, the balance is given. The system should automatically default to the current date.

Single Sign On
ASAP.gov, along with other systems like Pay.gov, are housed on the Treasury Web Application Infrastructure (TWAI). An effort known as "Single Sign On" will allow users to have the same ID and password to gain access to multiple systems on the TWAI.

Unique E-Mail Addresses
It is very important for all users to ensure that their contact information is current. It is especially important for users to update their individual e-mail address. ASAP.gov uses your e-mail address to send your initial user ID and important messages relating to the application. Due to security reasons, ASAP.gov users cannot use group e-mail addresses. Users must have individual e-mail addresses. The CBAF staff has been successful in contacting users who previously shared office e-mail addresses to obtain new individual e-mail addresses.

It is also important that users not share IDs and passwords. We have an authentication process in place to verify a user's identity by requiring them to answer 3 questions. If the questions are not answered correctly, no information is provided to the requestor.

Password Policy:
While the password format remains the same, the TWAI policy for the timeframe to reset passwords will be increased from 45 days to 90 days. Users will be notified before the change is effective. Currently, passwords are suspended after 45 days on nonuse. After six months, passwords are disabled. Logon IDs are still deleted after nine months of nonuse. The nine-month period is used in consideration of users who only need to use ASAP once or twice a year.

Enhancements:
Last year we implemented a formal Change Management process by which users can request changes or enhancements to the ASAP.gov system. However, users were using the process to enroll, delete, and modify user information. These types of changes need to be referred to your servicing RFC. Since it was not the intended use of the form, we changed the name of the form to clarify its purpose. The new name is the ASAP.gov Enhancement Request Form. The form and instructions are posted on the FMS ASAP website.

ASAP.gov Release Schedule:
An overview of the new release schedule was provided.

Release 2.0: Targeted Implementation Date: June 2005 (Since the April meeting the date has changed to December 2005.) Contents:

  • Internet Enrollment for Recipient Organizations
  • Allows Recipient Organizations the ability to enroll in ASAP.gov via the Internet
  • Provides changes to the "look and feel" of the application

Release 3.0: Targeted Implementation Date: December 2005 (Since the April meeting the date has changed to May 2006.)
Contents:

  • Internet Enrollment for:
    • Federal Program Agencies
    • Individuals
    • 1031s
    • Organization Batch
  • Notification Enhancement
    • Updates the Notification function to identify the user name and provide a description of the Notification
    • Eliminates duplicate or repetitive Notifications
    • Allows users to delete Notifications without reading them

Release 4.0: Target Implementation Date: June 2006 (Since the April meeting the date has changed to November 2006.)
Contents:

  • 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.
    • The recipient's 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 with that Agency
  • Reports
    • Implements previously approved user requested changes to Reports (e.g., customized search for specific date ranges).

As part of ACH Debit for Returns, Anita noted the need for FPAs to have a descriptor field on the return so users can insert a reason for the return. This is needed because of audit disallowances. For a negative draw, the user can insert a reason in the reference number field.

There was also a discussion about negative draws and applied date vs. settlement date vs. effective date.

Other:
- Next University User Group Meeting in conjunction with NCURA will be October 30 - November 2 in Washington, DC. The specific ASAP session time will be announced at a later date.
- Next FPA User Group Meeting is scheduled for June 16, 2005, at the Baltimore FRB.

Next ASAP Customer Board Meeting:
- The next ACB Conference call is scheduled for Tuesday, July 12th from 1 PM - 3 PM ET.
- The next ACB meeting is tentatively set for the week of November 14 - 18, 2005, at the Miami FRB. We may be able to schedule either another FPA and/or General User Group Meeting that week as well. Additional information will be provided at a later date.

Pending Items:
Deputy CFO Letter