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Archived updates from the FAC

The FAC is committed to working transparently and openly. In addition to our regular updates, you can find historical updates below.

The team has been focused on completing a migration of data from Census to GSA. This update covers mid-December to the current week.

Historic data transfer

Single Audit submissions from 2016–present are now available from the GSA FAC, and the Census Bureau is shutting down their data distribution. Single Audits from prior years will appear in our search results. This is a major milestone, and future work will involve documenting the data migration, our continued curation of this data, and improvements to how this data is queried and used.

The migration caused some disruptions to service. With 10 times more data, our system has struggled to keep up with volume for some of our search filters. The most affected filter is the ALN search. Results for this filter show whether an audit contains findings (“Findings My ALN/Findings Other ALN”). Before the migration, this filter applied to small amounts of data, but after adding prior years, this began crashing the system. We've removed this feature to resolve the system strain. Our team is working on a replacement feature to handle the larger amount of data.

What we delivered

We work in an agile manner. That means we have a long-term strategy, medium-term features we work to deliver, and make continuous improvement and bug fixes to the existing product.

Customer experience

We achieved “helpdesk zero” in the last week of January. We had no questions come in on a workday, and we emptied our queue so we had no support questions left to answer. We have continued to empty our question queue on a near-daily basis.

The team currently replies to a ticket within 1.5 hours of receipt, and closes 75% of tickets within 8 hours. The helpdesk remains an excellent place to get timely support.

UX/Design

We completed user testing on navigation changes for FAC.gov. This validated a new site structure that will be easier for users to navigate.

The team finalized a research plan around audit resolution work. We began interviews with audit resolution officials, IG offices, and other users.

Submission improvements

We made multiple improvements to the submission experience. We use research and interviews with our users, as well as issues reported in the helpdesk, to guide this work.

  • Added an SF-SAC summary report, allowing users to review the form data for in-progress and completed audits (PR 3025).

  • Significantly sped up PDF validation (PR 3057).

  • Submitters can now unlock an in-progress audit anytime up to the time of final submission (PR 3136).

  • Synchronization fixes between the audit state and submission checklist (PR 3144).

  • Users no longer have to log out and back in for changes to user access (e.g. changing the Auditee Certifying Official email address) to take effect. (PR 3194).

  • Simplified the submission checklist after an audit is validated and locked for certification. (PR 3197).

  • Improved validations regarding reference numbers (PR 3221).

  • Added the ability to download Audit Report Packages and the SF-SAC for in-progress review (PR 3212).

  • Many search performance improvements (PR 3283).

  • Fixes around our new “testing” banner and pre-certification report generation (PRs 3261, 3326, 3333).

  • Improved validation error reporting around ALNs (PR 3230).

  • Improved validation and error reporting around empty/zero loan balances (PR 3335).

Intake, Search, and API

We also made multiple improvements to the audit search experience.

  • A small update to SF-SAC summary exports (PR 3296) that adds ALNs to the Federal Awards sheet.

  • Fixed a performance bug within the FAC API (PR 3355).

What's next?

We're anticipating March to be a busy month. To support this, we'll be:

  • Focusing on performance improvements and growing our team’s capacity for user support so that the auditors and auditees are well-supported during this time.

  • Providing documentation regarding the migration of Census data to GSA and how to use it effectively.

  • Improving search, both to support Federal oversight work as well as the public’s experience with FAC data.

  • Adding Tribal data access to the API (PR 3359) and writing documentation and legal agreements to accompany it.

This week we've made improvements to user access roles, search results, and Tribal data access.

What we delivered

We work in an agile manner. That means we have a long-term strategy, medium-term features we work to deliver, and make continuous improvement and bug fixes to the existing product.

Audit access management

We improved the user access experience for single audits. Users can now change both the auditor and auditee certifying official for a submission and add new audit editors.

Future improvements will allow for the removal of other contributors to a submission.

Search improvements

We added the ability to filter search results by auditee state. We also enhanced the results returned by the ALN filter, making it possible to see if a submission includes audit findings.

Tribal data access controls

We have implemented access controls for Tribal audit data, and notified NSACs and KMSALs. This data will now appear in searches for logged in Federal users who have access.

Summary reports

We added the ability to download a summary report for an individual single audit submission. This combines all data from a single SF-SAC into one Excel document.

Pre-certification review

Auditors and auditees can now review a submission after it is validated and locked, but before it is certified.

What's next?

Historic data migration

We continue to work with Census on the migration of historic data.

This update is a bit richer given the cancellation of the November office hour for Federal partners.

We completed the development work necessary to make it possible to unlock audits that had been locked for certification. Auditors and auditees are now able to unlock these audits to make further edits before re-locking for certification.

What we delivered

We work in an agile manner. That means we have a long-term strategy, medium-term features we work to deliver, and make continuous improvement and bug fixes to the existing product. We update our system through pull requests, or PRs.

Tribal data access controls

We have implemented the data access controls that are required to provide data access to Federal users who have a need-to-know for audits from tribes and tribal organizations. We are now loading users into the system, and we will notify NSACs and KSMLs when that is complete.

What's next?

Historic data migration

We're charged with improving the quality of the data the FAC collects and disseminates. This is challenging but critical work that is necessary if we want the SF-SAC data to be meaningful for oversight. Because of this, we're approaching the migration of historical data from Census as an exercise in data improvement.

We believe it is important for users of FAC data to understand how we're carrying out this work. For today, this is the summary of our process.

  1. Copy. We have to transfer terabytes of databases and more than 650,000 files from Census to GSA.

  2. Analyze. The data is not perfect. The GSA team needs to understand all the ways that the data does, and doesn’t, meet our new validation standards.

  3. Migrate. We’ll begin by migrating 2022 data. Our team will use the Census data to construct “virtual submissions” to the FAC. Doing this will apply all of our integrity checks, confirming the data coming in is of the highest quality.

  4. Record Changes. As we migrate the data, some things might have to be changed. For example, date formats might change. Anything that changes as part of the migration will be recorded.

  5. Record Failures. Many of these “virtual submissions” will fail to pass our new integrity checks. We'll keep track of them, and set them aside.

  6. Adjust. We'll go back to step 2, looking at only the records that failed to migrate. We'll then adjust how we are migrating the data so that we can transfer more historical submissions.

  7. Repeat. We'll repeat steps 2-6 until we have migrated the submissions from 2022.

Our initial goal is to migrate the last 5 years of data with the highest possible integrity. This will improve the quality of the FAC data and create a public record of the migration.

We're highlighting this process for two reasons:

  1. The data migration is about data integrity. This work is about improving the integrity of historical FAC data.

  2. The data migration is iterative. This is not a singular, massive migration of data. It's a sequence of small migrations.

We'll write more about the migration in the future, and documentation about the migration as a whole is part of what we'll deliver with this work.

Other priorities

The historical data migration occupies a lot of our team’s time. However, we are also working on bug fixes, infrastructure, and a few features that we know are important to public and Federal users. Our current feature priorities as we close out 2023 are:

  • Adding the ability to add, remove, or change auditors and certifying officials who are attached to the audit.

  • Adding the ability to search for single audits by auditee state.

  • Improving the visibility of findings on audits.

  • Providing summary reports for both single audit submissions and for all results of a search.

We launched search and are ready for users to begin searching single audit reports. This initial iteration of search leverages six different filters for sorting data.

What we delivered

We work in an agile manner. That means we have a long-term strategy, medium-term features we work to deliver, and make continuous improvement and bug fixes to the existing product. We update our system through pull requests, or PRs.

  • Features add new capabilities or documentation to the FAC.
  • Improvements take existing code or text and increase its quality.
  • Validations increase the integrity of the data collected or disseminated by the FAC.
  • Decision records chart our product planning and decision making process.
  • Debt payment removes, cleans up, or otherwise improves existing code.
FAC feature additions, system improvements, and data validations for the week of October 30, 2023.
PR Type Description
2725 Feature Foundation for historic data migration
2681 Feature Reporting infrastructure rollout
2764 Improvement Fixes to workbook generation for historic data migration
2724 Improvement Improvements to the initial release of search
2734 Improvement Fixes to search on ALNs
2733 Improvement Consistent linking of search from fac.gov and application
2728 Improvement Cleanup of documents regarding product decisions
2683 Improvement Pagination in search results
2663 Improvement Updating privacy ACLs after AWS S3 changes
2642 Improvement Inexact matches on search fields
2651 Validation Placeholder for future workbook version checks
2640 Validation Improved validation around spaces in T3
2766 Decision User permission design for tribal audit access
2749 Decision New process for product decision making
2750 Decision Revision to decision making process
2686 Debt Removed “cms,” unused portions of code

What's next?

We’ve released search, and will be continuing to make improvements. We’ll also be focusing on the migration of historical data, and doing some preparatory work to make future work easier.

Our priorities are:

  • Adding the ability to add, remove, or change auditors and certifying officials who are attached to the audit.
  • Adding the ability to search for and download Tribal audits.
  • Adding the ability to bulk download search results.
  • Adding the ability to resubmit a previously submitted and completed audit.
  • Adding email notifications to alert auditees and auditors that a step is ready for them to complete.

Opportunities

Do you have an idea that could transform and improve grants management and oversight? 10x, a federal idea accelerator, is accepting proposals for new investment opportunities. All Federal employees are invited to submit ideas by November 30th.

The FAC participated in the Single Audit Roundtable, providing an update on our work to date and planned next steps, and used the opportunity to discuss pressing needs for auditors, resolution officials, and IGs.

We released the GSA FAC as a minimal viable product. That means we are continuing to work and improve the FAC.

What we delivered

We work in an agile manner. That means we have a long-term strategy, medium-term features we work to deliver, and make continuous improvement and bug fixes to the existing product. We update our system through pull requests, or PRs.

  • Features add new capabilities or documentation to the FAC
  • Improvements take existing code or text and increase its quality
  • Validations increase the integrity of the data collected or disseminated by the FAC.
FAC feature additions, system improvements, and data validations for the week of October 16, 2023.
PR Type Description
2569 Feature Add system command for generating test data in production environments
2572 Feature Allow users to unlock submissions once locked
2610 Feature Create backup of media files
2617 Feature Test data for historical data migration
2627 Feature Prepare workbook generator for use in historical migration
2563 Improvement Test data generator improvements to align with data intake checks
2568 Improvement Code simplification in end-to-end test environment
2571 Improvement Improve data generation command for reuse across environments
2595 Improvement Copy improvements and styling for submission unlock
2596 Improvement Remove unused application code
2613 Improvement Fix PDF download infrastructure
2624 Improvement Update software versions for deployment automations
2586 Validation Assert all data ranges expected are present in workbooks

Challenges

We encountered a bug on Friday, October 27th. This is not a bug in our software, but in one of our support systems. We are working with our systems providers to understand this bug and resolve it. Until it is resolved, we have to slow releases into our production environment. This bug does not impact data quality or the current operation of the FAC.

What's next?

We are currently working on search. We have a version ready for release, but are unable to promote it to production due to underlying system issues. Search includes the ability to download PDFs, both via the website and API.

After releasing search, our priorities are:

  • Adding the ability to add, remove, or change auditors and certifying officials who are attached to the audit.
  • Adding the ability to search for and download Tribal audits.
  • Adding the ability to resubmit a previously submitted and completed audit.
  • Adding email notifications to alert auditees and auditors that a step is ready for them to complete.
  • Adding the ability to bulk download search results.

Opportunities

Do you have an idea that could transform and improve grants management and oversight? 10x, a federal idea accelerator, is accepting proposals for new investment opportunities. All Federal employees are invited to submit ideas by November 30th.

We released the GSA FAC as a minimal viable product. That means we are continuing to work and improve the FAC. We work in an agile manner.

Items of note:

  • All UEIs are validating.
  • We made significant improvements to workbook validations and their associated instructions.

If you previously encountered challenges submitting your workbooks, we recommend you try again.

What's next?

We are currently working on search. We hope to demonstrate a prototype to Federal partners this week for early feedback. We anticipate having the ability to search for and download audits by the end of October.

Our pending feature priorities are:

  • Adding the ability to unlock audit submissions to edit and then re-lock for certification instead of starting a new submission.

  • Adding the ability to add, remove, or change auditors and certifying officials who are attached to the audit.

  • Adding the ability to resubmit a previously submitted and completed audit.

  • Adding email notifications to alert auditees and auditors that a step is ready for them to complete.

We released the GSA FAC as a minimal viable product. That means we are continuing to work and improve the FAC. We work in an agile manner.

The GSA FAC team worked to minimize change between submission systems. We have worked closely with auditors, auditees, and Federal users to achieve this.

Items of note:

  • We've updated our UEI validation criteria to only require that an entity's UEI exists. This should reduce the number of UEI errors users experience.
  • We know some users have found the error messages for workbook validation confusing. We are working to improve these messages.

What's next?

We know that not every tool you are used to is currently available, and we are working quickly to add features in the coming months.

Our goal is to be transparent and share our areas of focus. You can see what features are coming up in our backlog.

We are currently working on search. This will give Federal and public users the ability to find and download completed audits. Our goal is to have a first version of search and download available by the end of October.

Our other feature priorities are:

  • Adding the ability to unlock audit submissions to edit and then re-lock for certification instead of starting a new submission.

  • Adding the ability to add, remove, or change auditors and certifying officials who are attached to the audit.

  • Adding the ability to resubmit a previously submitted and completed audit.

  • Adding email notifications to alert auditees and auditors that a step is ready for them to complete.

We're excited to see completed audits coming in and data exporting via the FAC API. That said, we know there have been some issues. We're doing our best to provide help center support for those as fast as possible.

Items of note:

  • Some auditors and auditees experienced errors when trying to validate their UEIs. We identified the cause of the issue with sam.gov and believe we have implemented a fix.
  • We are now collecting single audit submissions from Indian Tribes and Tribal organizations.
  • Our engineering team improved workbook validations and addressed a bug in the FAC API.

What's next?

We know that not every tool you are used to is currently available, and we are working quickly to add features in the coming months.

Our goal is to be transparent and share our areas of focus. You can see what features are coming up in our backlog.

We are currently working on search. This will give Federal and public users the ability to find and download completed audits. We track our day-to-day work on our task board.