Secure Payment System Readies FPA's for GWA Changes in 2012

By Chris Garrett, Payment Operations Division

One of the Financial Management Service's (FMS's) most important functions is the production and delivery of federal payments and associated information. FMS uses advanced technologies to ensure that all such disbursements are made in a secure, timely and accurate manner. To help facilitate this goal, FMS implemented the Secure Payment System (SPS). SPS provides a mechanism by which federal program agencies (FPA's) can create payment schedules in a secure fashion, and with strictly enforced separation of duties. This application also allows SPS enrolled personnel at FPA locations to certify and submit schedules to FMS over the Internet or via a dialup connection. At the end of fiscal year 2010, there were more than 2400 SPS users, generating more than 288,000 Schedules, which contained more than 1 million payments. Through this activity, FMS disbursed more than a trillion dollars.

It takes two different types of users (again, strictly separated roles) to create and certify schedules at the FPA's. First, a Data Entry Operator (DEO) creates or uploads a schedule and submits the schedule for certification. Then a Certifying Officer (CO) examines the schedule for content and accuracy. Upon verification, the CO certifies the schedule, which will result in the schedule being submitted to FMS for disbursement.

FPA's can create different types of schedules based on their individual needs. The various types include:

  • Regular & Manual Checks

  • Electronic Fund Transfers (EFT) Automated Clearinghouse (ACH)

  • EFT/Same Day Payment Requests (SDPR)- Fedwire

  • Summary Schedule Certifications

Check and EFT are schedules that contain payment detail for each individual payment that is submitted through SPS. These individual payments are entered or uploaded by the DEO and certified by the CO. These payments are called "Type A" (Check, EFT) and are processed as next day payments.

Same Day Payment Request schedules typically contain low volume, high dollar payments that are processed electronically via Fedwire to the payee's bank account within minutes after the CO certification. These individual payments are entered or uploaded by the DEO and certified by the CO. These payments are also called "Type A".

Note: FMS strongly encourages FPA's to utilize ACH for EFT payments under $100,000 that do not have to be paid same day. For high dollar payments, which must be made same day, FPA's should use Fedwire. This is in accordance with TFM Volume l, Part 6, Chapter 8000, Section 8040.

Summary Schedule Certifications are schedules that contain only pertinent item count, dollar total, and accounting information for a payment file that was received by FMS via a bulk transfer mechanism (typically Connect:Direct) outside of SPS. The payment file will contain all of the individual payment information as well as the schedule number, and can contain either check or EFT (ACH only; SDPR/FedWire can be submitted only as "Type A") payments. The Summary Schedule certified by the CO will be verified and matched with the payment file prior to processing. These payments are called "Type B" or "bulk."

Each schedule type, with the exception of SDPRs, can be further identified with a sub-type, such as vendor, miscellaneous, salary, travel, benefit, etc. In addition, ACH and Summary Schedule Certifications also have a "Pre-Note" feature that allows FPA's to submit zero dollar transactions to verify the banking information to individual bank accounts.

SPS was designed to utilize the Public Key Infrastructure (PKI) digital signature technology as its underlying foundation for authentication and integrity. All user activity and schedule information is positively identified, including when and who created the schedule, and when and who certified the schedule. Deliberate or inadvertent manipulation, modification or loss of data between the time the voucher is certified and FMS validates the schedule can be detected, will result in non-issuance of those schedules.

There are more than 200 FPA locations submitting schedules through SPS for disbursement on a daily basis. Schedules are processed through the three FMS Regional Financial Centers (RFCs) located in Kansas City, MO; Philadelphia, PA; and San Francisco, CA.

What's coming next for SPS

As with most applications and programs, SPS is not immune to changes or modifications. These are usually brought on by FMS policy changes, industry changes and customer needs. One such change coming in the fall of 2012 will be the implementation of the new Government-wide Accounting (GWA) reporting requirements. To accommodate the GWA implementation, one of the needed changes for SPS will be how the FPA's will enter their Treasury Account Symbols (TAS) and their Business Event Type Codes (BETC) into their SPS payment schedule(s) so account reporting can take place with GWA.

Currently, FPA's enter an account symbol as a single string entry. Once GWA has been implemented, the FPA's will be required to enter their TAS/BETC by specific components. To accommodate this change, the SPS graphical user interface (GUI) will change to accommodate this new format. FMS will communicate to all of the FPA's through the RFCs and the GWA organization regarding what will be needed for FPA's to be ready for GWA.

For additional information on GWA, visit the GWA Web site at http://fms.treas.gov/gwa/ref_guidance.html or contact Luz Davila Lopez (luz.davila.lopez@fms.treas.gov or (202) 874-8599), or Michael Norman (Michael.norman@fms.treas.gov or (202) 874-8788).

FPA's may have heard of another FMS initiative, the Payment Application Modernization (PAM). PAM provides a more efficient streaming process for SPS payment processing activity. All changes to SPS to accommodate FPA conversion to PAM are already included in the current SPS functionality. For additional information regarding PAM, contact the Kansas City Financial Center (816) 414-2340 or pamhelp@fms.treas.gov.

For additional SPS information, please visit fms.treas.gov/sps or contact your Servicing Regional Financial Center listed below:

Kansas City, MO (816) 414-2340 kfc.sps.help.desk@fms.treas.gov
Philadelphia, PA (215) 516-8034 pfc.eob.operators@fms.treas.gov
San Francisco, CA (510) 594-7144 sfc.sps.help.desk@fms.treas.gov

Same Day Pay (SDP) Facts

Federal Program Agencies (FPA's)that send Same Day Payments through the U.S. Treasury's payment systems must use a valid Federal Reserve Bank (FRB) routing number(s) in order for the payments to reach the proper financial institution. The recipient may be charged a fee for this service by the financial institution.

U.S. Treasury customers are notified on a continuous basis that whenever possible, any payment under $100,000 should be made as a next day FEDACH payment rather than a Same Day Fedwire.

Our customers are notified of this payment rule for Same Day Payment through training sessions, Customer Advisory Board (CAB) sessions, application notifications through the payment creation process and through the FMS Regional Financial Centers customer help desks that emphasize the correct usage of sending Same Day Payment.

For more information regarding Same Day Pay, please contact your Servicing Regional Financial Center.


   Last Updated:  August 24, 2011