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e-Invoicing a “no-brainer” for the US government

At the recent event in Atlanta, we attended a presentation by Adam Goldberg, Executive Architect at the US Treasury’s Office of Financial Innovation and Transformation (OFIT). As he talked about their vision to reduce costs, increase transparency, and improve the delivery of all federal agencies’ missions, it was clear that there were lessons here that all organizations should hear.  

Formed in 2010, OFIT aims to deliver greater efficiency and transparency in federal financial management by promoting common technical solutions, expanding shared services for transactional activities, and launching enablers to reduce duplicate work. Chief among the nine or so initiatives Adam referenced in his presentation was electronic invoicing.

While the US government currently spends an estimated $800m on processing suppliers’ invoices, various studies have predicted that a move to electronic will save between $400m-$450m. OFIT endorses a number of e-Invoicing approaches, including portals and network-based, any-to-any file solutions.

e-Invoicing is considered a no brainer and is being pushed hard. Adam gave examples of where it’s already taken hold: the US Treasury started to mandate electronic invoicing just a couple of weeks ago on 1 October 2012, and the US Department of Veterans Affairs, which has had e-Invoicing in place for some time, is also set to bring in a mandate

One of Adam’s key points was: “The greatest savings from e-Invoicing can only be achieved through optimal supplier adoption.” Without supplier participation, programs will only limp along.  Key to this, he said, is the mandate. Good news may be on the horizon as there are current discussions with the Office of Management and Budget (OMB, the President’s Legislative and Budget Office) to gain support for a policy change that ensures all agencies adopt e-Invoicing.

The US Treasury is not alone. Indeed some might say it’s playing catch-up. The governments in Mexico, Brazil and Denmark have been instructing suppliers to send invoices electronically for some time. Any organization focused on efficient and accurate working practices will not tolerate paper-based processes.

As more bodies like the US Treasury, with guidance from OFIT, demonstrate the benefits of electronic invoicing to their vendors and federal agencies, we predict future conferences will feature more governments talking about electronic invoicing as an integral part of their finance and procurement functions.

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