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Core Competencies for Financial System Analysts in the Federal Government (Exposure Draft)

Published by the Government Accountability Office on 1997-09-01.

Below is a raw (and likely hideous) rendition of the original report. (PDF)

Core Competencies
for Financial System Analysts
in the Federal Government




                       A Joint Project of the
      Financial Systems and Human Resources Committees
               of the Chief Financial Officers Council
    and the Joint Financial Management Improvement Program




                                                                      CC-4
                                                             September 1997

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Foreword

Core Competencies for Financial System Analysts in the Federal Government is the fourth document
in a series of core competencies publications developed jointly by the Chief Financial Officers Council
and the Joint Financial Management Improvement Program. These documents include the:

Framework for Core Competencies for Financial Management Personnel in the Federal
Government, which established core competencies for accountants, budget analysts, and financial
managers;

Core Competencies in Financial Management for Program Managers in the Federal Government;
and

Core Competencies in Financial Management for Information Technology Personnel in the Federal
Government.

The Financial System Analyst, working in cooperation with Information Technology Personnel, plays
a crucial role in developing and maintaining effective financial management systems, as prescribed in
three major pieces of legislation--the Chief Financial Officers Act (CFOs Act) of 1990, the
Information Technology Management Reform Act (ITMRA) of 1996, and the Federal Financial
Management Improvement Act (FFMIA) of 1996. The CFOs Act requires agency CFOs to develop
and maintain agency financial management systems that comply with applicable accounting principles,
standards, and requirements; internal control standards; and requirements of OMB, the Department of
the Treasury, and others. The ITMRA requires agencies to establish goals, ensure performance
measurements are prescribed, benchmark agency processes, analyze missions and revise mission-
related and administrative processes before investing in information technology, and ensure
information security policies, procedures, and practices are adequate. The FFMIA requires each
agency to implement and maintain financial management systems that comply substantially with
Federal financial management systems requirements, applicable Federal accounting standards, and the
U.S. Standard General Ledger. The Financial Systems Analyst is a key person on whom the CFO
depends for developing and maintaining effective financial management systems.

This document contains core competencies, or the knowledge, skills, and abilities, considered
necessary for the financial system analyst to meet the challenges in today's changing environment. For
each of the core competencies, the degree of knowledge, skill, and ability required is reflected for
entry (level 1), mid (level 2), and senior (level 3) positions in terms of low, medium, and high. The
sources for developing the knowledge, skills, and abilities are discussed in the narrative preceding the
matrix.
Contents
     Foreword

     Introduction

     Core Competencies for Financial System Analysts            2

           Financial Management and Accounting Principles and   3
           Practices

           Federal Financial System Requirements                4

           Financial Management Controls                        5

           Business Process Analysis and Redesign               6

           Knowledge of System and Information Technology       7

           Project Management                                   8

           General                                              10

     Specialized Knowledge Required for Financial               11
     Systems Professionals




                                               ..
Introduction
Background

The impetus for developing core competencies began in 1994 following a governmentwide training
symposium, sponsored by the Chief Financial Officers Council and the JFMIP, to share information
and identify priorities for human resource development. The priorities identified at the symposium
included developing core competencies for financial management personnel, which would assist CFOs
and managers in obtaining and retaining a highly qualified workforce with knowledge, and know-how.
 The Framework for Core Competencies for Financial Management Personnel in the Federal
Government discusses the rationale, in broader terms, for developing core competencies. In part, this
Framework document states the time has come for the Government to ensure that there is uniformity
and consistency, to the extent feasible, in human resource development.

The Financial Systems and Human Resources Committees under the CFO Council, working in
conjunction with the JFMIP established an interagency team to develop the core competencies for
financial system analysts. A companion document on core competencies in financial management for
computer system specialists is concurrently being developed by an interagency team. Both teams
worked closely with one another, since the coordination between the two disciplines of financial
management and information technology is needed to ensure the implementation of a successful
financial management system within the organization.

For these core competencies to be most effective, management from all disciplines need to fully
support and promote the use of these documents on core competencies within their organizations. To
the maximize benefits throughout the government from using core competencies, agencies are
encouraged to share their best practices in education and training with other departments, and with
JFMIP for posting to FinanceNet.

Purpose of this Document

This document is intended to be used as a reference tool and guide for financial system analysts at all
levels (as reflected in the matrix identifying the core competencies) and in any organizational
component performing financial management functions. As new financial management systems are
being developed to meet the informational needs of agency management, central agencies
requirements, Congress and other outside parties, this document will help foster better
communication among the financial management and information technology communities, who must
work together to develop and implement a system that will provide the financial information needed.
Core Competencies for Financial System Analysts


The core competencies for Financial System Analysts identify the knowledge, skills, and abilities
considered necessary to perform effectively in today's rapidly changing environment. The core
competencies are identified by the following levels:

 Level 1    Entry level: Typically consisting of introductory fundamental, basic, and routine activities;
            normally 1 to 3 years of experience as a financial system analyst.

 Level 2    Mid level: Consisting of applying proficiencies as a fully functional and experienced
            analyst; normally 2 to 4 years as a financial system analyst.

 Level 3    Senior level: Normally a team leader or supervisor, typically consisting of activities which
            address complex, expertise, program impact, or extended operations involving multiple
            organizations.

The core competencies reflect the degree of knowledge, skills, and abilities required for a financial
system analyst. The degree is identified as low, medium, or high within each level. For example, the
degree of knowledge, skills, and abilities required of accounting by a financial system analyst is less
than what one would expect for an accountant, and the rankings in section A of the matrix show them
to be low to medium for the financial system analyst. In overall terms, the matrix reflects the
progression expected as an individual moves from one level to the next.

Training Resources

For the competencies described in this document, there are numerous courses available within each
agency, from established educational institutions, and from the many vendors in the business of
professional education. Classroom instruction is very important in order to gain the essential
principles and policies of various financial management processes and techniques. However, this
knowledge must be reinforced with practical applications toward achieving these competencies.
Financial system analysts will also benefit from management training in leadership, quality
management, team management and oral and written communications in terms of facilitating their
application of financial management principles.

An excellent resource for financial system analysts to find the types of training to meet their specific
needs is through the Internet. The FinanceNet address--http://www.financenet.gov/--provides access
to the web pages that contain many of the course catalogs and training materials from both private
and public sector organizations in the education and training business.
      Core Competencles
 (Knowledge of, Ability to Use, or          Levels                      Learning Objectives
         Skill in Using)
                                            1 23
A. Financial Management and
  Accounting Principles and Practices



1. Accounting concepts and principles   L    M       M   1. Obtain general understanding of traditional
                                                            accounting practices, operations, and procedures.

                                        L    M       M   2. Acquire knowledge on the different methods of
                                                            accounting including accrual, obligation, and cost
                                                            methods.



2. Federal accounting concepts and      L    M       M   Acquire general understanding of:
   standards
                                                         o Federal accounting concepts and appropriation
                                                           process.

                                                         o Federal Financial Reporting.

                                                         o Federal Financial/Accounting Standards.

                                                         o Internal agency fund control practices.



3. Agency accounting policies and       L    M       M   Acquire knowledge of agency/organization:
   procedures
                                                         o accounting policies and procedures

                                                         o agency financial reporting
       Core Competencies
  (Knowledge of, Ability to Use, or             Levels                       Learning Objectives
             Skill in Using)
                                                1 2 3
B. Federal Financial System
   Requirements

1. Financial systems requirements issued    L    M       H   Acquire general understanding of:
   by central agencies
                                                             o FMIP Framework for Federal Financial Systems


                                                             o JFMIP Federal Financial System Requirements
                                                               (FFMSR)

                                                             o OMB Circular A-127 - Federal Financial Systems


2. Applicable legislative, administrative   L    M       H   Identify and interpret planning requirements resulting
   and regulatory requirements                               from major legislative and administrative changes as
                                                             they apply to the incumbent's financial systems.

                                                             o Treasury Financial Manual (TFM)

                                                             o OMB Circulars



3. Working knowledge of functionalities     L    M       H   1. Acquire basic understanding of the functional
   in agency financial systems                                  process of financial systems being supported, e.g.,
                                                                payroll, accounts payable, etc.

                                            L    M       H   2. Acquire knowledge of agency accounting and
                                                                related financial management and information
                                                                systems through:

                                                             o Interviews and discussions with agency financial
                                                               systems professionals.

                                                             o Review and analysis of agency application
                                                               operations manuals and user manuals.



4. Understanding of agency financial        L    M       H   1. Acquire general knowledge of the technical design
   systems architecture                                         structure supporting the agency's financial systems.


                                            L    M       H   2. Acquire working knowledge of the functional
                                                                system integration, e.g., core and feeder systems.

                                                         4
      Core Competencies
 (Knowledge of, Ability to Use, or           Levels                      Learning Objectives
         Skill in Using)

C. Financial Management Controls


1. Management controls concepts and      H    H       H   1. Acquire a general understanding of the importance
   principles                                                of a strong system of management controls.

                                         M    M       H   2. Acquire an understanding of how management
                                                             controls reasonably ensure that:

                                                          o financial integrity is maintained for the recording
                                                            of transactions and the recording of results.

                                                          o transactions are executed in accordance with
                                                            management's general or specific authorization.

                                                          o resources are safeguarded against waste, loss, and
                                                            misuse.


2. Establishing management controls      M    M       H   Identify and implement appropriate general controls
                                                          and application controls.


3. Assessing, improving and correcting   L    M       H   Monitor and evaluate systems of management controls
  management controls                                     with appropriate documentation, identify deficiencies,
                                                          and assist in correcting deficiencies.
      Core Competencies
 (Knowledge of, Ability to Use, or          Levels                      Learning Objectives
         Skill in Using)
                                            1 2 3
D. Business Process Analysis and
  Redesign


1. Mission and functions of agency      L    M       H   Acquire knowledge of the agency/organization's
   and/or organization                                   structure, mission, functions, and major components.


2. Agency's strategic plan              L    L       H   Obtain understanding of the Agency's Strategic Plan
                                                         and the agency's strategy for change.


3. Evaluation of financial              L    M       H   Acquire knowledge of tools and techniques and the
   processes/systems                                     ability to analyze processes and costs of specific
                                                         practices and procedures.


4. Development of alternatives to       L    M       H   Acquire knowledge of tools and techniques and the
   improve/redesign processes/systems                    ability to reengineer/redesign business
                                                         processes/systemsin order to achieve more efficient
                                                         operations.
      Core Competencies
 (Knowledge of, Ability to Use, or            Levels                      Learning Objectives
         Skill in Using)
                                              1 2 3
E. Knowledge of System and
   Information Technology


1. Analyze and test off-the-shelf         L    H       M   1. Acquire knowledge of available commercial off-the-
   software packages or other software                        shelf software packages.

                                          L    H       H   2. Relate functional requirements to commercial off-
                                                              the-shelf software packages capabilities to
                                                              eliminate as much customization as possible.


2. Systems design concepts                L    M       M   Acquire general knowledge of System Development
                                                           Life Cycle.


3. Data management concepts               L    L       M   1. Acquire knowledge of data stewardship
                                                              responsibilities.

                                          L    M       H   2. Acquire knowledge of data architecture
                                                              methodologies.

                                          L    L       L   3. Acquire knowledge of database administration.


4. System architecture concepts for       L    M       M   Acquire knowledge of system hardware and
   software, hardware, and                                 telecommunications environment supporting agency
   elecommunications                                       financial system.


5. Computer security requirements         L    M       H   1. Acquire knowledge of functional security
                                                              requirements for financial systems.

                                          L    L       L   2. Acquire general knowledge of technical security.



6. Continuity of operations (concept of   L    L       L   Acquire general knowledge of technical operation of
   backup and recovery)                                    financial system, including production control
                                                           concepts.
      Core Competencies
 (Knowledge of, Ability to Use, or       Levels                      Learning Objectives
         Skill in Using)
                                         1 23
F. Project Management


1. Project planning                  L    M       H   1. Acquire knowledge of structure of appropriations
                                                         and other funds that support existing and future
                                                         programs and the mission of the Agency and how
                                                         fund management impacts on programs
                                                         achievement and financial systems.

                                     L    M       H   2. Acquire knowledge of budget preparation process,
                                                         strategies, and options for specific areas of
                                                         responsibility on financial programs and systems
                                                         according to prescribed format and specifications.

                                     L    M       H   3. Acquire knowledge of current and desirable
                                                         accounting functions, policies, procedures, and
                                                         financial system performance related to the project.


2. Project monitoring                L     H      H   Perform life cycle management on the development of
                                                      a new or substantially modified system as a means of
                                                      accomplishing its activities and tasks.


3. Acquisition management            L    M       H   1. Administer and manage contracts for goods and
                                                         services to ensure quality performance and prevent
                                                         cost overruns.

                                     L     M      H   2. Acquire, monitor, control resources according to
                                                         established specifications for the development and
                                                         implementation of new or the modification of the
                                                         existing financial systems.
      Core Competencies
 (Knowledge of, Ability to Use, or       Levels                       Learning Objectives
         Skill in Using)
                                         1 2 3

F. Project Management (con't)


4. Team building skills              L    M       H   1. Demonstrate team-building techniques necessary to
                                                         ensure a cohesive and productive workplace:

                                                      o Possess the ability to integrate people from many
                                                        disciplines into an effective team.

                                                      o Be able to use basic coaching, brainstorming,
                                                        directing, and delegating techniques and skills to
                                                        foster teamwork and project success.

                                                      o Possess the necessary skills to be able to negotiate
                                                        effectively for materials, supplies, and services that
                                                        are essential to the success of the project.

                                     L    M       H   2. Demonstrate conflict methods necessary to ensure
                                                         that each project is completed on time and within
                                                         budget:

                                                      o Recognize the determinants of conflict and their
                                                        timing in the project life cycle to enhance active
                                                        participation and minimize unproductive conflict.

                                     M    H       H   3. Provide effective communication with all
                                                         organizational levels to keep lines of
                                                         communication open to minimize conflict.


5. Change management skills          L    M       H   Manage and control changes to existing financial
                                                      systems and related organizational structures to reduce
                                                      costs, increase benefits, and improve performance
                                                      through change management techniques.
      Core Competencles
 (Knowledge of, Ability to Use, or        Levels                       Learning Objectives
         Skill In Using)

G. General


1. Mission and functions of central   L    L       M    Acquire knowledge of the roles and missions of the
   agencies                                             central agencies and other service providers and how
                                                        they interface with your agency.



2. Written communication              H     H      H    1. Prepare routine memoranda and reports


                                      L     H      H    2. Prepare and/or review documentation in support of
                                                           reports and/or systems requirements.


                                      L     M      H    3. Prepare and review complex reports and
                                                           justifications for senior management.



3. Oral communication                 L     H      H    1. Give presentations including problems statements,
                                                           recommendations, and project status.


                                      L     M      H    2. Give complex/high-visibilitypresentations to senior
                                                           management (conferences, major meetings,
                                                           seminars, etc.)




                                                   10
Specialized Knowledge Required for Financial Management Systems
In certain instances, such as analysis, design, and development of financial management systems,
the Financial System Analysts will be required to develop specialized knowledge related to the
unique requirements of the particular system. The matrix that follows identifies various financial
systems common throughout the government and lists the specialized knowledge required for
those persons engaged in the development of those systems. It highlights the basic financial
knowledge that should be acquired in order to perform their duties effectively.
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          U.S. General Accounting Office
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