The EPA’s Office of Pollution Prevention and Toxics (OPPT) was spending significant time and energy creating their program plan every year. The program planning process was Excel-based. A member of OPPT would send around an Excel template to each division, and the template would be duplicated for each project requiring funds for the year. The templates would be returned to the OPPT staff person who ran complex Macros to combine all templates into one Excel workbook. There were often several duplicates because the templates were completed in isolated environments. The OPPT staff person worked to create a clean, duplicate free, workbook, and then shared that workbook back with the divisions. The divisions would make updates, return them back to the OPPT staff person, and the OPPT staff person would again run the Macros. This continued for months, after which there were work group meetings to review office-wide proposals using the combined workbook. During and after work group meetings, templates were updated, and Macros were run and rerun. Historical data was lost, or very hard to retrieve. Any changes during the year resulted in running and rerunning of Macros. The process was time intensive and tedious. In addition to these planning issues, Lotus Notes was going away. Lotus Notes had been OCSPP’s DCN Log application for several years. While it was slow and not always accurate, it needed to be replaced. The Office of Pesticide Programs (OPP), Office of Science Coordination and Policy (OSCP), and the OCSPP Immediate Office (IO) were facing similar issues. Initial solutioning began as an OPPT-only app.
We built a Finance Central app with program planning and DCN Log functions. The program planning functions allow entry of project and budget data for every fiscal year. Changes are tracked in the tool. We created dashboards and reports for the program plan. We built processes for requesting allocation of funds and allocating funds, to make sure accounting lines are assigned and used. We built email data connections so that the DCN Log pulls in spending data (commitments, obligations, and expenditures by DCN) from CBOR each day. We built connections between the program plan and DCN Log applications, so that spending is matched with the allocations each day. Together the program plan and DCN Log features became the Finance Central app.
Over time, the app expanded to include all of OCSPP. Now, OCSPP manages their program plan formulation and budget execution and reporting in the Finance Central app as an AA-ship. The time and effort to create an annual plan/program plan decreased to a couple of months – whatever it takes to get staff to enter their needs and schedule approval sessions. The tool tracks changes during a single fiscal year as well as across fiscal years. The tool is used for planning and tracking spending information. Key financial users are in the tool daily to review requests, allocate funds, and access reports for a full picture of financial activities within the office.
EPA Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention (OCSPP)