United States government agencies haven’t exactly made much positive fiscal publicity for themselves over the last several years, but that may soon change for the better. Under direction from the Obama administration, agencies are adopting better business processes, most particularly through usage of expense management and invoice management solutions. Most recently, the U.S. National Park Service went live with its own electronic invoice management platform, which was implemented to assist federal agencies and their suppliers in streamlining the order-to-pay process.
While budget and scandal have driven much of Washington’s interest in process transformation, there is little argument on either side of the aisle over transitioning away from dated invoice and expense policies and procedures. The U.S. government is looking to the private sector for help on how to offer more efficient and cost effective services to citizens, something American companies must consider on a daily basis in order to stay relevant and in business. Not surprisingly, President Obama’s Cloud-First Initiative spun out of the rampant expansion and success of cloud-based business solutions in the private sector and prompted a critical review of federal services. So far, the federal government’s own efforts to make use of improved software, best practices and cloud technology have met with much success, despite the challenges involved in meeting federal security requirements and transitioning large agencies such as the Departments of Defense, Treasury and Interior to e-procurement systems.
According to the Department of the Treasury, the transition to electronic invoicing…
- “Saves the federal government up to $450 million per year by moving from primarily paper-based to fully electronic invoicing (25%-45% per invoice).
- Centralizes invoice information and related payment data, providing earlier and more robust visibility into agency cash disbursements to improve Treasury cash management and allow more accurate reporting to citizens.
- Supports Government Paperwork Elimination Act (GPEA) requirement to offer entities that deal with federal agencies the option to submit information electronically.
- Increases invoice accuracy (vendors assume responsibility for invoice entry) and processing efficiency (fewer manual steps and routing of paper or emails for approval).”
In 2011, President Obama demanded government agencies start paying small businesses within 15 days, not the 30 days (or more) the private sector had come to expect. This is an all but impossible task for an entity the size of the federal government, if it uses paper-based invoice processing. Much to the benefit of American vendors and small businesses, the federal government is quickly putting itself in a position to meet that financial demand and more.