The client’s perspective

The Office of Financial Management (OFM) of the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) oversees agency-wide budget formulation and execution, accounting, payment processing, financial reporting, and financial systems across FDA’s 10 operating centers. It also develops, operates, and maintains FDA’s central financial systems. After implementing Oracle financial software and undertaking a related large-scale transformation of its organization and processes, OFM needed to better align its financial management policies and procedures.

Financial policy formation at OFM was a complex and dispersed function with little centralized guidance, making each update virtually an ad hoc process riddled with long lag times and inefficiencies. Additionally, many policies had not been reviewed in 10–15+ years, and when one was reviewed/updated, it often took up to one and a half years for it to be approved and implemented.

To provide oversight, the OFM wanted to establish a policy council to provide the governance mechanism for managing and maintaining its policies. The council would have representatives from all FDA centers and offices, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, and the U.S. Department of the Treasury.

OFM brought in Eagle Hill to plan and design the policy council, including drafting its charter; defining its organizational structure; identifying and developing business processes to launch and maintain the council; establishing and supporting the council through management and coordination of stakeholder needs across FDA; and creating comprehensive implementation and communications plans to support the council’s launch and long-term maintenance.

OFM also charged Eagle Hill with developing a centralized solution to organize, store and manage the large volumes of administrative and operational documents within OFM. The key benefits of this centralized solution would be to establish strong version control, security processes over document storage, archiving and retrieval.

A new view

Eagle Hill worked with the deputy CFO of the FDA and the staff of approximately 200 at the OFM to establish new business processes for making informed decisions about financial policies, keeping policies up-to-date, making changes more quickly, and building accountability into the process.

To start, Eagle Hill worked with the CFO to define a new governance structure for establishing the FDA-wide policy council. Eagle Hill served as facilitator and solution architect to help the council finalize its charter during initial council meetings, and played an ongoing role in the support of meetings moving forward.

Eagle Hill was also tasked with designing and implementing new business processes to support FDA-wide financial policy development. First, we conducted best practice research and conducted an “as-is” assessment. We then defined the future state for new business processes, including workflow charts, written standard operating procedures, and process guides that could be used for implementation and training.

The next step was reviewing the existing financial policies for completeness, accuracy, and adherence to various government requirements. Based on a series of internal interviews and analysis of the existing documentation, Eagle Hill provided OFM with a detailed inventory of all existing financial policies that required revision and new policies that needed to be developed, managed their implementation, and designed a document management solution to ensure that all key financial documents, including policy changes, were housed in a single repository for ease of access and archiving purposes.

Next, we designed and implemented a performance measurement dashboard reporting system solution that allowed leadership to verify program effectiveness and determine impending priorities.

Finally, Eagle Hill developed a communications plan that identified stakeholders who would be impacted by the new policies, and the best communication channels and timelines to accompany the rollout of the policies and procedures. We also wrote communication materials to support the implementation of new policies.

Unconventional consultingand breakthrough results

As a result of our efforts, FDA was able to reduce the policy approval process from one and a half years to three months. Establishing a policy council has provided the client with the capability to make informed decisions about policies, keep the policies up to date, make policy changes more quickly, and build accountability about policy decision-making throughout the organization.

In addition, the updated policies are completely compliant with federal and department directives, regulations, and laws and provide employees with clear direction. The policy dashboard report we designed continues to identify important metrics for monitoring policy status, trends, schedule status, future meeting plans, and risk analysis.