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Commentary: For FI$Cal, Milestones Achieved and a Clear Path Ahead

“Aligning with the governor’s multi-year cybersecurity roadmap, FI$Cal’s Cal-Secure initiative incorporates people, process and technology to employ cutting-edge solutions that will strengthen the department’s cybersecurity defenses,” writes FI$Cal Director Jennifer Maguire.

The following commentary appeared in the most recent edition of FOCUS, the newsletter of the Financial Information System for California.

In the past year, the Department of FISCal (FI$Cal, the Financial Information System for California) has achieved major milestones which have set us on course well into the coming years. As part of recent legislation, we have been tasked with a robust road map of activities that will ensure the work of the department aligns with the needs of the state. Achieving the goals set before us requires coordinating multiple large-scale projects and priorities simultaneously, in order to ensure we meet these important deadlines.

We have begun to build a framework for the future, developing plans for both the current year and through 2032. While we push towards these goals, we remain aware that the most effective planning requires maintaining the ability to adjust to an ever-changing technical landscape and ensuring the evolving needs of end users and partners are met well into the future. In order to do that, we must ensure we build in flexibility for our long-term goals and seek efficiencies for our short-term goals.

Over the course of 2024, we have plans that span our road map activities, including onboarding more departments, continued technical optimization of the system, maintaining security of the system, supporting the transition of the accounting book of record and data validation, working with partners to implement needed products, and implementing ongoing enhancements and upgrades to ensure the system remains up to date.

We continue our onboarding efforts and are on track to complete this process with the California Department of Technology and the Department of Rehabilitation, with a scheduled go-live date of July 2024. Both departments are deep in onboarding activities, completing their final configurations and role mapping validations, conducting business process review sessions and continuing end-user training, which began at the end of 2023. These activities ensure that the system is ready to do what each individual department needs and that the system is working as expected.

The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) has begun a three-year onboarding. Teams from Caltrans and FI$Cal are actively working through solutions and designs identified during the fit/gap analysis, as well as conducting configuration workshops and role mapping activities.

In addition, FI$Cal is working to complete fit/gap analyses for the remaining deferred departments. These reports will provide FI$Cal with high-level information needed to help determine if they can transition onto the FI$Cal system and will create a baseline for future onboarding plans.

From a technical perspective, we continue our journey to the cloud. This transition enables us to take advantage of the latest advancements in technology to improve the resiliency and provide the flexibility to scale our systems up or down on demand, ensuring they remain agile and available as our computing needs evolve. FI$Cal continues to reduce our dependency on on-premise infrastructure and implement a secure, scalable and extensible FI$Cal cloud foundation within the Oracle Cloud Infrastructure (OCI) to support on-demand provisioning of FI$Cal technical environments in OCI.

Aligning with the governor’s multiyear cybersecurity road map, FI$Cal’s Cal-Secure initiative incorporates people, process and technology to employ cutting-edge solutions that will strengthen the department’s cybersecurity defenses. FI$Cal’s project approach is multilayered, incorporating innovative solutions, reinforcing security training and employing the best tools and solutions to protect and monitor the enterprise. Over the next year, project efforts will focus on improving cyber defenses surrounding data loss prevention and application whitelisting. These initiatives will bolster the department’s security posture and ensure its cybersecurity defenses continuously improve to prevent and protect FI$Cal’s data and systems from cyber threats.

We remain committed to our collaboration efforts with the State Controller’s Office (SCO) and look forward to FI$Cal becoming the official accounting book of record for the state of California by the statutory deadline. SCO has identified and provided all the necessary system and interface requirements to migrate the book of record functionality to FI$Cal. With SCO’s collaboration and dedication, we prepared a plan to deploy these enhancements over a three-year period and began the design, development and integration activities which will continue this year. In addition, we started the data validation activities, referred to as Basis of Accounting Comparison and Comprehensive Validation, which are critical to transition the book of record to FI$Cal and produce the financial reports.

We continue to engage our partners to deliver high-value solutions, such as electronic invoicing and electronic fund transfers. Electronic invoicing will allow suppliers to submit invoices through a web portal or electronically from their own systems, minimizing the need for state staff to manually key in invoices, saving time and creating efficiencies for accounts payable staff and suppliers. The electronic funds transfer will allow FI$Cal to send data, so SCO can make the payment electronically instead of through a paper warrant.

Finally, in 2023, we began the deal management and bond accounting project. The purpose of this project is to centralize bond information within the FI$Cal system, enabling systematic reporting while streamlining data entry for SCO and departments.

We are well on our way to achieving the goals set forth before us. Every accomplishment represents the effort it takes to ensure a system of this size and complexity continues to work for California. Enhancing the system, providing customer support, ensuring system security, collaborating closely with partners, and supporting staff are all necessary pieces that make up our work. We have already taken major strides in accomplishing our goals and are ready to tackle more in 2024.
Jennifer Maguire was named director of the Department of FI$Cal (Financial Information System for California) in October 2022. She previously served as chief deputy director and deputy director, part of her 25-year career with the state. Before joining FI$Cal, Maguire held a variety of roles in the financial and administrative fields in state government. Her most recent assignment before joining FI$Cal was serving as the budget officer for the Department of Justice.