June 19, 2020

BFEM Modernization Improves Efficiency, User Experience, and Accessibility

In May 2020, the Department of the Treasury released a major update to the Budget Formulation and Execution Manager (BFEM.gov). BFEM is a web-based application that enables federal agencies to formulate their budgets and track budget performance measures. The upgrade covered the entire system, including the base technology stack and the Section 508-compliant accessible user interface (UI).

BFEM serves as the backbone for 17 agencies’ end-to-end budget formulation process, managing billions of federal dollars. Agencies use the tool to submit congressional budget justifications that list agency priorities, requested budget levels, and performance plans; work on draft budgets reviewed by the White House and passed back to agencies; construct investment portfolios; and run frequent reports and reviews to monitor and manage Capital Planning and Investment Controls for IT expenditures.

The application provides agencies with a clear structure and workflow to complete the budget formulation process. The function and appearance of the application adapts to the role of the user, the stage and area of the budget process they are working in, and the size and complexity of an agency’s portfolio. This level of human-centered design demanded significant application engineering. The development team built the application using common code components whenever possible to ensure a consistent and clean user interface while investing in the stability and scalability of the application architecture. This represented a ground-up development and upgrade, producing a UI that was more intuitive and accessible for all users. By developing the application in this way, the team ensured a lower cost for maintenance and debugging than was possible with the previous system.

TCG provided project and program management for the entire modernization effort, leading the development of the UI, user experience, and supporting database infrastructure. TCG’s Agile software development approach provided the client with a high level of transparency, giving visibility into workflows and progress with tight customer feedback loops.

TCG worked alongside the Bureau of Fiscal Service to come up with a seamless migration plan to help minimize the impact on users. Fiscal Service was able to “flip the switch” and make the new application available to users without disruption to service.

BFEM is a critical part of federal budget formulation and execution. TCG modernized BFEM 10 years ago, making it possible for eight new agencies to adopt the system. This new redesign makes the application even more accessible, easier to use, and more flexible for even more agencies to adopt in the coming years.