1. What is the IFMIS?
The Integrated Financial Management Information System is an application that bundles together Budget Preparation, Budget Execution, Accounting, Financial Management and
Reporting activities for the Government of the Gambia. It is integrated in nature and it ensures that data entered at one point is electronically availed to the next stage without duplication of data entry activities.
2. What activities are involved in the implementation of the IFMIS?
The IFMIS implementation involves various activities, including the installation and implementation, through training and provision of preventive and remedial maintenance, of a computerized, integrated financial management system based on a turnkey approach. The IFMIS comprises of a three tier computing architecture with a central database and application server set-ups at the Primary Site at the Directorate of National Treasury, the Disaster Recovery Site (DRS), and remote workstations of thin client PCs at the Departments of State. Local Area Networks at the Departments of State are linked to the Data Centre and the DRS via a Wide Area Network using a hybrid combination of fibre and radio based local loop technology.
3. Why do we need the IFMIS?
The IFMIS is designed to improve systems for financial data recording, tracking and information management. This is in response to increasing demands for greater transparency and accountability in the management of the public’s finances. It will enable Government to produce financial information for statutory reporting requirements and to generate timely and accurate information for decision making in such critical areas as budget planning and management, procurement, assets management and management of the payroll. It will also interface with the Customs, Tax Administration, Debt Management and Central Bank systems. The IFMIS therefore augments all fiscal and financial management processes throughout Government.
4. What Integrated Modules are being implemented in the Gambia?
The IFMIS application software package being implemented in the Gambia is Epicor. For the past 20 years, Epicor Software Corporation has been a recognized leader dedicated to providing integrated enterprise resource planning (ERP) software solutions to customers around the world. Our IFMIS will have the Following Integrated Modules:
5. Who has been contracted to supply, install and commission the IFMIS?
The IFMIS Supplier’s set-up is as follows:
The Prime Contractor, Soft-Tech Consultants Ltd. has its headquarters and 8 regional offices in Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania and offices in Kenya and Uganda. It employs over 150 professional staff with experience to deliver services at the highest standards. Soft-Tech has successfully implemented a nationwide IFMIS solution in Tanzania and is also behind the ongoing IFMIS implementation in Malawi.
QuantumNet is one of the leading IT service providers in the Gambia and has vast experience in the planning, installation and maintenance of Local and Wide Area Network solutions. During our implementation, Quantum Net will handle all aspects related to hardware, networks and training infrastructure.
KPMG Ghana has been involved in the implementation of a number of financial management systems for clients in the West African region. The firm will provide consulting expertise in accounting procedures and manuals for our IFMIS project.
HITS is a reputable international payroll software company whose products are used all over the world. The Nas.Net module is an integrated payroll and human resource information management system which has won worldwide acclaim.
6. How long will it take to implement IFMIS?
To ensure success, implementation of the project is being undertaken in two phases spanning over a period of five and a half years (January 2005 to June 2010).
Phase 1 of the IFMIS project involves the implementation of the core budgeting, accounting and Payroll modules in 6 sites comprising of the:
Phase 11 will involve:
7. What are the benefits of the IFMIS?
Throughout the world, it is a recognized fact that availability of accurate information is a prerequisite for Economic and Financial Management improvement. One of the major problems we are facing in the Gambia is lack of accurate, timely and appropriate Budget & Accounting Information. This is characterised by:
Key IFMIS benefits include:
8. How is the IFMIS Project being managed?
Because the project is large and complex, it has needed very careful planning. To ensure that the project succeeds, Government has instituted sound project management techniques. The Project governance structures are as follows:
9. How is the IFMIS implementation funded?
Given the magnitude of the implementation, Government has, through the Capacity Building and Economic Management Project (CBEMP), obtained external financing from the World Bank. This covers the acquisition and installation of hardware, software and the IT network infrastructure, as well as the associated staff training costs. It is hoped that other development partners will assist with the financing of initiatives that are complementary to the IFMIS in order to enhance the success of the implementation.
10. How are the IFMIS maintenance costs being funded?
All IFMIS IT components that have been installed carry a 36 months’ manufacturers’ warranty as well as a two years’ post warranty maintenance period. During this period, the IFMIS Supplier will carry out both remedial and preventive maintenance on a regular basis.
Beginning with the 2007 financial year, IFMIS recurrent costs have been factored in the Government budget to meet the costs associated with operating the system.
11. Will the IFMIS result in any job losses? What is the new role of the Internal Audit Department?
No job losses are anticipated. However, some officers may have to be re-trained for possible redeployment. Training has been arranged to provide computing skills to users so that they can utilise the IFMIS. Additionally, the supplier has carried out extensive training on the IFMIS application for all the users in the Phase 1 sites. Any emerging training needs are swiftly addressed by the Training Management Workgroup at DNT.
The role of the auditors remains the same. What has changed is the way they do their work. The Internal Auditors will use IFMIS to do their work as opposed to using manual/legacy systems. The IFMIS has inbuilt controls that actually make it easier for the auditors to do to their work. However, the focus has changed from “pre-auditing” to the audit of systems, enforcement of controls and procedures and value for money audits- this is in line with best practice and the IFMIS is being used as a supporting tool.
12. What are the sustainability plans for the IFMIS?
A training needs assessment (TNA) exercise was carried out in July 2005 to assess the competence levels and training requirements of staff involved in financial management activities across Government. Basing on the findings of this exercise and the IFMIS project implementation plan, a training schedule was developed and is being implemented. Ongoing training comprises of basic IT skills, Epicor functional and technical training, induction and on-the-job training and professional accountancy courses. Government has set up and equipped an in-house training facility and Government trainers will be used to support training activities alongside the supplier’s consultants. Additionally, all Consultants on the implementation have Government staff working alongside them in order to ensure adequate knowledge and skills transfer.
An IFMIS Sustainability Plan was developed by the IFMIS Project Team in consultation with all stakeholders in July 2008 and clearly highlights the IFMIS sustainability strategies and plans to Phase out Consultants commencing in December 2009. The plan is based on various assumptions and will be reviewed and updated on a regular basis.
13. Which officers have access to the system?
Only officers responsible for Government financial management responsibilities have access to the system at the moment. This means that officers with functions relating to budgeting, purchasing, payments, receipting, payroll, cash management and general ledger can process financial transactions online. In the later implementation phases there will be an effort to deepen and widen the IFMIS applications and scope.
14. How is the IFMIS information kept secure?
In addition to physical security measures at the Data Centre and other installations, the IFMIS software can only be accessed by authorised users using unique user IDs and passwords. The software has an in-built hierarchical password set-up, which regulates access to different functions hence ensuring the segregation of duties. The system also has an inbuilt audit trail mechanism that tracks access as well as all changes that have been effected on the system.
At the Data Centre, where the IFMIS database is housed, a firewall prevents unauthorised access from cyber space. This is complimented by a sophisticated intrusion detection system. In addition, data transmission between the Data Centre and the Departments of State is protected by modern encryption technology. The Department of State for Finance and Economic Affairs has also engaged the fulltime services of IT professionals who monitor security risks and take appropriate action in a timely and efficient manner.
15. What would happen in the event of a system failure?
Contingency plans are in place to ensure Government business continuity at all times. Back-ups are performed on a daily basis and the data tapes are kept in a very secure area. Government has also set up a Disaster Recovery Site which will be activated whenever there is disruption to the processing facilities at the primary site (Data Centre).
16. What are the critical success factors for the IFMIS?
Successful implementation of the IFMIS is dependant on the commitment of all stakeholders to support the process. Below are some expectations from the stakeholders:
17. Are there any other countries that have successfully implemented the IFMIS?
Similar systems have been successfully implemented in a number of developed countries and African countries such as Uganda, Tanzania, Mauritius, Malawi, Zimbabwe and South Africa. Many other countries such as Ghana, Zambia, Ethiopia, Botswana, Sierra Leone, Kenya, Namibia, Angola and Nigeria are at various stages of implementation.
18. What procedural changes have taken place since the Go-Live of the IFMIS on 3 Jan. 2007?
The changes are various and have been aimed at ensuring that GOTG processes financial transactions in an efficient manner in accordance with best practices. Following Go-Live, the pilot sites have been able to access the IFMIS and carry out transactions online from their premises. The Directorate of National Treasury accesses the approved transactions online and processes cheque payments on the basis of endorsed requests from the Departments of State. NAO and GRA process their payments from their premises given their semi autonomous status. All bank reconciliations are now done automatically and financial statement backlogs have been eliminated. Consequently, financial and management reports are available from the IFMIS on a real-time basis using the updated GFS and IPSAS compliant Chart of Accounts Structure.
Non-pilot sites which do not yet have online access after go-live now process their purchase orders and cheque payments through a data centre which has been set up at the Directorate of National Treasury. Application and technical core teams are on the ground to offer the 1st level of support to the end users. Any issues that cannot be resolved by the core teams are escalated to the IFMIS supplier through an automated Help Desk System.
NB: Detailed procedural changes are covered in the new GOTG Financial Procedures Manual which is available on request from the Directorate of National Treasury. W.e.f Go-live, i.e., 1st January 2007, Purchase Orders and cheques for ALL Government Departments are printed off the IFMIS in order to ensure absolute commitment control. Additionally, all Suppliers and Government Employees must have a Tax Identification Number (TIN) in order to transact business with the Government.
19. How does the System detect and/or prevent fraud?
Best practice financial procedures, physical controls and security inbuilt within the application software and IT infrastructure (including access controls, segregation of duties, audit trails, validation checks etc) help to detect irregularities in a timely manner. The online Departments of State issue a formal request before cheques are printed off the system. Additionally, all government cheques are printed off the IFMIS (including those of non-pilot sites) and a confirmation letter is issued to the Central Bank by the Directorate of National Treasury so that the authenticity of all cheques is validated before they are honoured.
The system cannot detect irregularities caused by connivance between end users. However, a comprehensive audit trail exists to determine who initiated, amended or approved a transaction and from which location and at what time.
20. Does the system allow the overdrawing of the Treasury Main Account?
Before Go-live, the government bank accounts were restructured to ensure that the Treasury Main Account (TMA) cannot be overdrawn. The system does not allow the printing of a cheque if there is no money on the TMA. To enable easier monitoring and reconciliation, revenues are banked in a separate Consolidated Revenue Fund Account and are periodically released to the TMA in line with approved cash allocations to Departments of State and agencies. Since commitments are made on the basis of effected cash allocations, there is no way that the TMA can be overdrawn.
Commitment control on the IFMIS ensures that before a local purchase order or other commitment is entered into, there are available funds which are backed up by cash on the TMA via approved cash allocations by the Budget Directorate. An inbuilt check also matches cash allocations against the appropriated budget.
21. What plans are in place to ensure that End Users in Phase II are equipped with the requisite IT skills and knowledge in a timely manner?
As witnessed in the Phase I implementation, the nature of financial transaction processing in the Gambia is undergoing a fundamental change whereby many hitherto manual procedures and processes have been replaced with automated procedures by the IFMIS across Government. Computing skills are therefore vital to ensure the overall success of the implementation. To ensure that these basic IT skills are imparted in a timely manner, the Training Management Workgroup has already embarked on an exercise of ascertaining IT skills gaps within the Phase II sites. This is being done via a questionnaire that has been administered to all Phase II potential IFMIS users (in case you are a new GOTG user in need of basic IT training please get in touch with the TMG contact person at the back of this brochure).
The basic computing skills required for the successful operation of the IFMIS are windows navigation, excel, email use and word processing. It is planned that the basic IT training will be carried out in-house by the GOTG IT Technical Core Team based at DNT.
22. Is it possible to access the Internet through the IFMIS Network?
The IFMIS is a web-based solution. However, due to security considerations, access to the Internet via the IFMIS network is not allowed. This is due to the criticality of the operations and sensitivity of the information processed on the IFMIS. Since the IFMIS is the backbone of Government financial management, it is critical that the system is protected from any attacks such as attacks from viruses and Trojans and any risks that may affect the system uptime as this directly impacts on Government’s financial transaction processing activities.
However, all IFMIS Users have access to email facilities through an intranet imbedded in the system. The email facility is also used to transmit email alerts which alert users when transactions are forwarded for their approval or attention. Email alerts can also be triggered when particular transactions are initiated, e.g., the Vote Controller may be notified by an alert whenever a transaction exceeding a particular amount, say GMD 100,000 is initiated on the system; whenever an expenditure is raised on the overseas travel vote, etc. Alerts can be determined by users and our Technical Core Team can assist in setting them up as required.
23. What are the planned Key IFMIS implementation activities?
Below are the key implementation activities and associated timelines for 2007 and subsequent periods. Dates prior to August 2008 indicate dates/timelines pertaining to the realised achievement of key milestones/activities. Given the dynamic nature of activities and the complexity of the IFMIS implementation, please note that future dates, i.e., dates beyond August 2008 are not cast in stone and are subject to revision.
Copyright DOSFEA 2008, Designed and Developed by IFMIS Team