From Navy Medicine West, Maureen Brown shares her past experiences with the GSA SmartPay transition process, best practices and lessons learned.
Financial Management Analyst
A/OPC Bureau of Medicine and Surgery
41 Years with the Federal Government
Describe some of your responsibilities related to past GSA SmartPay transitions:
I was responsible for making sure that all accounts in the hierarchies below mine were current and up to date and making sure that all travelers received their new travel cards timely. If a traveler did not receive their new GSA SmartPay Charge Card (GOVCC), I worked with the next level hierarchy up to make sure they got one. I also worked with the travelers that transferred during the issue of the new GOVCC and made sure their new address was forwarded so they could get their cards.
In your opinion, what is the most important aspect of transition?
- Making sure that all accounts are current and with correct data including all travelers that were transferring
Describe some of the things that went well during transition?
- The continuous scrubbing of our accounts until the very end when the new servicing bank took over and new charge cards were issued.
- Working with the new servicing bank as they supported us with many questions, concerns and needs.
What was the biggest challenge you faced during the transition from SP1 to SP2 and how are you preparing to address it this time?
Familiarizing myself with the new system:
- Getting to know the servicing bank and getting access to the website so we can maintain the traveler’s account and run the reports that we need to work the program (i.e. delinquencies, split disbursement, bank charges, etc.)
- Meeting the servicing bank representative is always helpful. This way, you know who you are communicating with and have a bit of personal touch when you have to make contact. For example, charge card maintenance is a big part of working with the servicing bank representative, who will provide the service/support that is needed for the travelers.
- Knowing the servicing bank’s policies, what tools they provide and who to contact for assistance is necessary for managing the program.
Reaching out internally to others for assistance:
- All new A/OPCs should get to know the veteran A/OPCs for help with questions and to provide support and guidance.
Keeping communication open:
- We need to have communication from the servicing bank through the hierarchy level down to the travelers. Communication with management also helps with having a successful program.
- The Communications Planning Tool is a wonderful tool to use as we migrate to SP3. Using this tool will help with a smoother migration. Sharing what worked will help others tackle the process of changing from SP2 to SP3. I would recommend using this tool to share with others what worked and did not work.
What are some of the lessons learned based on your past experience with the GSA SmartPay transition?
- Keeping the lines of communication open. For example, communicating through newsletters, emails, teleconferences and VTC’s are some of the best ways to reach a lot of people.
- Provide more time for training with the new servicing bank.
What support can the banks best provide?
- All training required for the new systems and processes.
- Customer support for questions and concerns.
When should an agency begin scrubbing its master file?
Now would be a good time to at least start looking at it.
What advice do you have for new A/OPCs who are going through their first transition?
- Take a deep breath
- Take your time in reviewing the accounts
- Stay in constant communications with your upper level A/OPCs
- Stay in constant communication with the cardholders
- Review the accounts multiple times to make sure traveler data is current and correct
Any other comments that you would like to share?
Attend the next GSA SmartPay Forum and take as much training as possible from the new servicing bank.