NB_250_21_2 - NB 250-21-2 FNM – Review of Open Obligation Tool (ROOT) for FY 2021
NB 250-21-2 FNM – Review of Open Obligation Tool (ROOT) for FY 2021
National Bulletin: 250-21-2 Date: February 3, 2021
Subject: FNM – Review of Open Obligation Tool (ROOT) for FY 2021

Purpose.   To provide guidance to facilitate the review of NRCS open obligations for fiscal year (FY) 2021.   
Expiration Date.   November 30, 2021
Background.   Departmental Regulation 2230-001, “Reviews of Unliquidated Obligations (ULO),” requires regular and continuous review of unliquidated obligations to ensure the agency can properly report obligation balances, certify the validity of current and prior-year obligation balances, make funds available that otherwise would not be used, reduce the risk of misuse and theft of funds, and improve the Treasury Department’s ability to forecast outlay and borrowing needs. In addition, NRCS is required to certify quarterly that reviews and corrective actions related to unliquidated obligations with no activity for at least 12 months were performed. These certifications are due 30 days after the end of the quarter.

Explanation.   To provide allowance holders 30 days to perform the review and still meet the departmental requirement of certifying ULO balances at the end of each quarter, the FPAC Chief Financial Officer (CFO) will conduct a review beginning in the third month of each quarter of the open balances at the end of the second month of each quarter. ULO balances will be selected for review based on compliance with Federal regulations, departmental policies, and NRCS-established program policies and procedures, and based on audit risk. 

I.          For planning purposes, allowance holders should anticipate ROOT to be open for review based on the schedule below.  It is essential that allowance holders complete their review as scheduled so the agency can submit the quarterly certification timely.


ULO Balances as of Date

Anticipated ROOT Review Dates

Due Date for Departmental Certification

November 30

December 14 – January 22

January 31

February 28

March 19 – April 23

April 30

May 31

June 18 – July 23

July 31

August 31

September 17- October 22

October 31


II.        When performing the review of open obligations, the allowance holder must determine whether the obligation is—


(a)  Valid—which means the balance shown is accurate and should remain open.


(b)  Follow-up required—the obligation needs further attention to determine if a de-obligation should occur.  (These items will be included in the next review.)


(c)  Recommend de-obligation—which means some or all of the balance shown should be de-obligated because no additional activity is anticipated.


III.       Process for ROOT Review


(a)  Please complete your review for all required obligations identified in ROOT at https://audittools.sc.egov.usda.gov/Root/default.aspx.


(b)  Detailed procedures to perform ROOT certification are located in ROOT SharePoint.  Click on the link “Checklist and Help Documents” inside the ROOT SharePoint.


(c)  If an obligation is certified as “Valid,” the reviewer is validating that the balance is accurate, has supporting documentation of the ULO balance, and the balance should remain open because additional activity is anticipated in connection with the obligation.


(d)  If the obligation is invalid but remains in FMMI due to a feeder system issue (ProTracts, Integrated Acquisition System (IAS), etc.), record the applicable ServiceNow ticket or support incident number and the request date in the “Review Comments” section of the “Open Obligation Determination” screen.  If the issue has not yet been reported to the appropriate help desk, please do so in order to include this information before finalizing the “Open Obligation Determination” screen.


(e)  If the review determines an item should be de-obligated, please submit the request, along with supporting documentation, to the appropriate national service delivery branch within 5 days of making that determination.  This will ensure that the de-obligations occur timely and ending balances are accurate for open obligations.


(f)   If the review cannot be completed prior to the due date, the reviewer will check “Review Determination #3, Follow up is required.”


IV.       Other Important Notes


(a)  Completion of the review process and de-obligation actions will be monitored by the FPAC CFO, with progress communicated to NRCS leadership.


(b)  After each quarter end, the FMD Managerial Reporting Team (MRT) will conduct an additional quarterly post-certification review of obligations that have been certified as valid.  A statistically valid sample of certified obligation is selected for further review, with supporting documentation being provided by the originating office.  This supporting documentation is then independently reviewed by an MRT staff member for completeness of all documentation and match to FMMI balance for that obligation.  If the staff member concludes that the obligation is valid, no further action is taken.  If the staff member concludes that the obligation may not be valid, the originating office is contacted to obtain either their concurrence or nonoccurrence.  If the originating office concurs, they are requested to initiate de-obligation procedures.  If the originating office does not concur, they are requested to provide additional supporting documentation to support their position.  The additional information is reviewed by the MRT staff member and communication with the originating office continues until consensus is reached between MRT and the originating office.  MRT reports the overall sampling results to FMD senior management.


(c)  Annually, the FMD Financial Assurance and Risk Management (FARM) Branch will select certain obligations as part of the annual A-123 testing.  For those samples, the allowance holder must provide the supporting documentation for review.  A report on the findings will be provided to the FPAC CFO and other key leadership officials.


Contact.   Any questions regarding this bulletin should be submitted to the FPAC Business Center, Financial Management Division (FMD), through ServiceNow (FPAC Intake Portal) https://usdafpacbc.servicenowservices.com/fpac?id=fm_intake&sys_id=0d3a72a0dba4ab00b34efb0e0f961988



Acting Associate Chief

FPAC Chief Financial Officer

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