Budget planning season is right around the corner, and I wanted to provide you with an update on our current plans.
The Fermilab Finance Office, together with Computing, is working on the implementation of a labwide Budget Planning System (BPS). BPS is one of our highest-priority projects and will significantly change the way we plan and execute our budgeting process. I will talk more about BPS in a moment, but first, I want to explain the FY18 budget formulation process. As we continue the implementation of the new BPS, we will begin the budget planning process using existing processes and tools. We envision kicking off the budgeting process in late May with specific budget guidance from the laboratory Budget Office. The exact timeline will be contingent upon the outcome of the President’s FY2018 Budget Request.
Now, some background on BPS. The goal of the BPS implementation is to standardize processes across the lab to improve budget efficiency and transparency. The lab will benefit tremendously from having consistent information across the organization to inform decision making and resource allocation.
BPS Release 1, completed in February, loaded most of the financial and human resources data into the BPS tool and enabled the Finance Office and senior field financial managers to run reports against this data. Release 2 will enable us to execute the budgeting process as “one lab,” loading large project data from Mu2e, LBNF/DUNE and the CMS Upgrade into the system, using improved and standardized workflows to formulate operating budgets and establishing a single source of truth for planning information.
The BPS project has taken longer than we had anticipated. We have made significant progress in refining our requirements, configuring the new system to meet our needs, and loading historical and current data. We continue to work on data validation and the final configuration of the designed system.
Our current projection is that we will complete BPS Release 2 in early FY2018. We will provide occasional updates as work on BPS progresses. As the release date nears, sufficient training will be provided to ensure that everyone that needs to use BPS will have time to acquaint themselves with the system and the activities they will need to perform.
Once Release 2 is complete, a focused effort will be made to load the FY18 budget into BPS and then use BPS to manage the budget throughout FY18. Our approach — formulating the FY18 budget using existing methods and then loading the results into BPS later — allows us to begin FY18 budget formulation using familiar tools while we complete the remaining efforts of the BPS Release 2 implementation. We believe this is a solid plan to progress towards the end goal of formulating the FY18 budget in a timely manner and then managing the budget in the new system.
Vanessa Peoples is the Fermilab chief financial officer.