Department of Finance frustration over new €115 million accounts system that was causing staff stress and delays in reporting

The Department of Finance complained bitterly over a new €115 million system meant to streamline public accounts blaming it for incorrect calculations, slowing down civil servants, staff stress, and simple tasks taking an “inordinate amount of time”.

In correspondence, the department’s secretary general said they had even been hit with penalty interest because of delays in setting up basic data using the new Financial Management Shared Services (FMSS) system.

The Department of Finance was one of a number of stage agencies that were chosen for the initial roll-out of what was supposed to be a new ‘simpler’ system early last year.

However, they soon ran into problems with financial reports that used to be delivered in moments now taking extended periods of time to generate.

An internal paper said: “The impact of the reporting issues means that finance officers cannot quickly do the same searches that they could previously.

“Reports that took literally one second on [the old system] take anywhere from two to three minutes to over ten minutes to run and sometimes the same report has to be rerun if the user does not locate the information required.”

The position paper added that reports which were generated were “very cluttered and difficult to read”.

The department – along with the Department of Public Expenditure – said the new system had caused a “material impact on the labour productivity of staff”.

“Staff across the departments and their offices of government are of the view that the system design is unnecessarily complicated and not intuitive especially if you are processing a new item for payment,” said the document.