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US Treasury sets 99% electronic payments target for 2030

The U.S. Treasury Bureau of the Fiscal Service released its annual letter to chief financial officers on Monday, highlighting a number of goals which include a target to deliver 99% of disbursed payments electronically by 2030.

Other plans within the letter included deploying a new electronic tax collection system by 2024, and the migration of 70 fiscal service datasets from legacy locations to modern, digital formats.

“Right now, we’re set up where we have to negotiate with each of the fintech payment platforms. We’re working now on a solution that allows us to have one payment system, and then be able to tie in multiple payment methods, in even some ones that don’t even exist yet,” US Treasury Department’s Bureau of Fiscal Service Comissioner Tim Gribben told Federal News Network.

Gribben says that the bureau has been making substatial progress to deliver more payments electronically over the past decade, but needs to continue modernizing with an all-in-one platform that allows a wider range, including services like Venmo

One of the largest challenges facing the electronic adoption goal is public opinion, according to Gribben. The commissioner said the bureau is working to form a “No Check Coalition” to educate the population about the benefits of electronic payments over traditional payment checks.

“There are some people who still believe that getting that paper check is more secure when actually it’s not. Our data shows that electronic transactions are much more secure and less prone to fraud than paper checks,” Gribben said.

US Treasury has already begun implementing direct electronic payments in a number of departments including Social Security, the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the IRS. While many Americans received their pandemic relief payments electronically in 2020, approximately 8 million people still received their funds through Economic Impact Payment (EIP) prepaid debit cards.

Roughly 40% of small business sales come through non-recurring relationships with buyers, almost all of whom send their suppliers a check for products or services, according to PYMNTS.

EIP distribution highlights the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on the Treasury’s current and existing goals, with Gribben stating in the letter that, “The past year has validated our vision for the future of financial management and confirmed the importance of embracing agile methodologies in the delivery of our products and services.”

“As federal financial management leaders, our responsibilities have expanded with new programs to help Americans through the pandemic,” he said.

The bureau assisted the Federal Emergency Management Agency on vetting applications for funeral assistance in the early stages of the pandemic, and is on track to have full access to the Social Security Administration’s Death Master File by 2023, according to Gribben.

The Treasury is also making plans to aid the Biden administration in its aim of using data and evidence to drive policy decisions at agencies. As of late, 35 of its 70 agency-goals having already moved data sets from legacy formats to its digital database at FiscalData.Treasury.gov.

“CFOs have to be much more focused in the future on being able to link the performance results and the financial results for the money that Congress is giving us to invest in our programs and services,” Gribben said.

The full list of new financial management vision goals outlined in the letter include:

  • Offer the capability to stop improper payments prior to disbursement in accordance with legal authorities by 2026.
  • Convert 25% of Treasury General Account Network transactions from cash and check bank deposits to electronic by 2025.
  • Deploy a new electronic tax collection that provides a modern, seamless customer experience by 2024.
  • Streamline and improve current financial reporting and audit processes for federal agencies by 2025.
  • Migrate 70 fiscal service datasets from legacy formats and locations to Treasury’s Fiscal Data by 2024.
  • Build and deploy enterprise data solutions that improve performance, reduce costs, and deliver what the financial management community needs to advance data-driven decision making by 2025.
  • Increase number of agency subcomponents using common financial management solutions by 25% by 2025.
  • Improve the retail customer experience by enabling customers to purchase, manage and redeem their Treasury security holdings through one platform by 2025.

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