The Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform, Michael McGrath, has welcomed the launch this week by the National Shared Services Office (NSSO) of its Finance Shared Services on a new, single integrated financial platform. This launch represents the large-scale transformation of finance and accounting processes used by central Government and Offices.
Finance Shared Services will introduce the standardisation of accounting practices and new automation technology to produce standard accounts for central Government and Offices, delivering improved financial management information to ensure greater efficiency and effectiveness, and enhanced security and controls.
This new service offering by the NSSO will provide support to Government Departments and Offices for critical finance and accounting administration such as the processing of suppliers’ invoice payments and receipting. It will manage the procurement of all goods and services in a new, standardised way. The management of cash, the production of standard accounts and reporting to support the annual appropriation accounts and audit will also be provided by the NSSO.
The new central finance accounting system will replace 31 different legacy finance systems, over time, eliminating the need to maintain, support and upgrade multiple different systems, reducing cost and improving security. This single platform will consolidate expenditure through the Exchequer. It will support eInvoicing and eProcurement and the management of supplier data.
The implementation will enable the financial reporting reform required to support the move to international accounting standards. In addition, the simplification and standardisation of accounting processes across central Government will strengthen compliance with EU and international reporting and transparency requirements.
Commenting on the launch of this new financial service, Minister McGrath said:
“The modernisation of accounting standards and comprehensive reporting of finance has been a key objective for this Government. Coming from the accountancy profession, I know the extensive value that having rich centralised data available from a single central financial system can deliver, and the value that the NSSO is bringing. The ability to respond quickly to new and emerging fiscal and financial requirements today is critical for any Government. Today is another step towards delivering the reforms needed. This project will improve financial reporting, promote good governance and transparency and deliver value for money.
“I want to thank the Programme team and everyone in the NSSO who led and delivered this complex and ambitious programme of change. I thank them all for the dedication and focus they have shown to bring Finance Shared Services live today.”
Speaking about the launch, CEO of the NSSO, Hilary Murphy-Fagan said:
“I am very proud of all the staff who made this possible through their commitment, persistence and professionalism. This achievement is theirs to recognise. Today is a key milestone for the NSSO that already provides human resource and pension administration to over 40,000 civil servants, and payroll and travel and subsistence payments to 150,000 members of the Civil and Public Service.
“When fully established, our Finance Shared Services division will provide central standardised finance and accounting processing to over 48 Government Departments and Offices. This will future-proof the finance systems of the Civil Service, enabling fiscal and reporting reforms, and strengthening the financial information available to Government to support their decision-making. Today we have launched the solution that will be used by all Government Departments and Offices.”
Finance Shared Services went live this week with an initial eight Public Service Bodies including the Department of Finance, the Office of the Comptroller and Auditor General and the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform. Over 40 additional client organisations will be on-boarded on a phased basis over the next three to four years.
Notes on the Programme:
- The first group of Client Departments to receive Finance Shared Services include: the Department of Finance, the Office of the Ombudsman, the President’s Establishment, the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform, the Office of the Government Chief Information Officer, the Office of Government Procurement, the Office of the Comptroller and Auditor General, and the NSSO itself.
- The NSSO expects a period of about four to six weeks will be required while suppliers, finance users and our own staff adjust to using this new financial system.
- The requirement for a modernised, single integrated financial platform for central Government, and for more timely and comprehensive reporting on an accruals basis, has been referenced extensively, both internationally (by the IMF and the OECD) and nationally (by the Comptroller and Auditor General and the Public Accounts Committee).
- The phased roll-out of Finance Shared Services is estimated to take a further three to four years to complete. The timeline in which the expenditure on the finance system is expected to be recouped is 10 years, and this will be validated as the programme progresses through subsequent waves.
- A Government decision in September 2020 approved the continued deployment of the Financial Management Programme over an extended project timeline to 2025. It also approved additional funding based on the enhanced design, bringing the total approved budget for the project to €115 million, including VAT. This first wave has delivered the majority of the functionality that will be used by all Departments and Offices in budget.
- This will be the third service offering by the NSSO. Established in 2018 as part of the Public Sector Reform Programme, the organisation has evolved to become a significant business services partner to the Civil Service and one of the largest multifunctional shared services organisations of its kind in Ireland.
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