Provide an exchange system to manage all aspects of the integration of massive volumes of business data from diverse government agencies into SAP central core system.
- The Axway Platform provides a secure exchange system for enormous volumes of data, including the transfer and integration of up to 10 million tax declarations per day during peak periods
- AIFE’s core system is isolated from the complex integration issues handled directly by Axway’s solution
- Axway Sentinel provides full traceability through exchange tracking, statistics and audit trails in compliance with legislation governing public finance (LOLF)
- Axway Accounting Integration Suite manages complex accounting translation and integration with the core system
The AIFE¹ is the French government’s Financial Information System Agency reporting to the Ministry of Budget, Public Accounts, Civil Service and the Government Reform agency. AIFE defined and implemented Chorus, the French government’s new financial information system which manages expenditures, non-tax revenues, and government accounting in compliance with LOLF², a newly enforced constitutional bylaw. LOLF is designed to make public spending more transparent and improve performance measurement across all levels of public administration.
Chorus is composed of three major technological components:
- The Chorus core information system based on SAP, which handles accounting, budgetary and financial transactions.
- The business intelligence information center (also based on SAP).
- The Chorus exchange system, managing the overall integration with all internal and external applications, based on the Axway Platform.
The exchange system acts as a secure integration layer between the central government financial system and approximately 80 government and ministerial applications. The Axway Platform collects business events from diverse government agencies and manages all aspects of the integration with the Chorus core system: reception of business events in various formats and protocols (including PRESTO protocol), data validation, data transformations, and integration into SAP. “The whole integration process needed to be managed in a reliable manner, providing for full traceability of all actions, as well as security, for monumental volumes of data. This is where the Axway Platform comes into play as a complete, robust and secure exchange system,” said Antoine Cao, head of technical strategy and analysis at the AIFE.
“The whole integration process needed to be managed in a reliable manner, providing for full traceability of all actions, as well as security, for monumental volumes of data. This is where the Axway Platform comes into play as a complete, robust and secure exchange system.”
Tremendous volumes of sensitive government data exchanged
The French government is made up of 2.5 million civil servants. State beneficiaries, including all French taxpaying households, number about 16 million.
All 15 French Ministries are using the Chorus application, and each Ministry has its own business management applications related to its branch and field. A certain number of these applications require financial, accounting and budgetary information from Chorus. The Chorus exchange system is powered by Axway Platform to manage the large volumes, and by Axway Accounting Integration Suite to manage the complex integration rules and accountancy requirements.
Cao, who formerly held the role of Chief Architect for the Chorus project, explained, “In the RFP, we specified our largest data exchange requirements to illustrate the volumes to be handled. Fiscal applications generate about 250 million data integration transactions per year. This figure includes online and offline declarations for companies and for taxpayers. Since many taxpayers and companies tend to wait until the last minute to pay taxes, we have peaks of between 5 to 10 million transfers per day. Receipt of these data flows is handled by Axway Gateway, and integration into the Chorus core is handled by Axway Integrator.”
Chorus Critical Data Flow Examples
Higher Education Scholarships: The Ministry of National Education has its own system for handling scholarship applications, management and awards. However, when it comes time to pay out the scholarships, the funds are managed by Chorus. File exchange and translation between the Ministry of National Education’s application and Chorus is completed using Axway’s solutions, and Chorus manages the payment of scholarships. Six hundred thousand scholarships are paid out monthly, and it is imperative that they are paid on time.
Government Employee Expense Reports: Many of the 2.5 million civil servants claim back-travel expenses, and the expense claims typically arrive through Axway Platform in XML format at the end of each month, creating particularly large files.
The ministerial data exchanged is of a highly sensitive nature and requires robust security features. “We were already familiar with the security features provided with Axway’s solutions, since we have been using Axway Transfer CFT for several years. With the Chorus project, however, we required additional tools to manage data and partner authentication, as well as enhanced security exchanges. We chose Axway PassPort and Axway Gateway to ensure the best level of security available,” stated Cao.
“Since many taxpayers and companies tend to wait until the last minute to pay taxes, we have peaks of between 5 to 10 million transfers per day. Receipt of these data flows is handled by Axway Gateway, and integration into the Chorus core is handled by Axway Integrator.”
Visibility, traceability, and compliance
One of the main objectives of Chorus is to contribute to government reform. Chorus is designed to implement and comply with the Constitutional Bylaw on Budget Acts (LOLF) to reinforce transparency and accountability of government financial data. It takes into account the impact of the General Review of Government Policies (RGPPᶟ) and it is also designed to contribute to the simplification of financial processes. Regulatory bodies such as the Financial Courts have direct access to the core system data. The Financial Courts audit and certify accounts and budget management.
“The state’s accounts need to be certified and therefore require full traceability of all transformation actions. Axway Sentinel provides end-to-end traceability from data exchange to the end of the integration process, with dashboards, statistics, and audit trails,” said Cao.
Master data access layer and synchronization
To exchange with a large number of applications, it is essential to work from core master data located in a central repository. Every application needs to employ the same master data; otherwise they won’t understand each other, especially in the case of A2A exchanges. In order to ensure that external applications do not exchange directly with SAP, which as a result simplifies the solution, the AIFE decided to use Axway Integrator for both the synchronous access to master data and the synchronization of master data. When SAP needs to access the master data, it calls a web service and Axway Integrator provides the up-to-date master data information. Axway Integrator also extracts references from SAP that require synchronization with the external applications. “This approach lightens the load on the core system, and it isolates SAP from complex integration issues,” explained Cao.
ROI achieved through consolidation
The number of government sites and their agencies linked directly to Chorus is very large. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs, for example, manages expenditures for 300 agencies worldwide, and these expenditures are in turn managed by Chorus. Formerly, each consulate or embassy had its own local application. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs decided to consolidate 200 of its agencies into one central agency, resulting in a single interface to Chorus for the 200 agencies. Each Ministry has its own consolidation schedule. As an example, the Ministry of Defence has 4,000 agencies worldwide. Operating costs are reduced as the number of interfaces to Chorus is reduced.
“The state’s accounts need to be certified and therefore require full traceability of all transformation actions. Axway Sentinel provides end-to-end traceability from data exchange to the end of the integration process, with dashboards, statistics, and audit trails.”
The implementation of Chorus is also driving the consolidation of applications in the ministries. It is expected that Chorus will facilitate the phasing out of about 40 applications. This will result in savings on maintenance, production, administration teams and support teams for each of the applications. “The strategy behind Chorus is not to consider ROI in terms of technologies acquired, but rather in terms of simplification, cost savings, and rationalization gained through the consolidation of interfaces and applications,” Cao concluded.
Chorus key facts and figures
- Largest and most comprehensive Axway Platform and Axway Accounting Integration Suite installations deployed worldwide
- Peak transfers between 5 to 10 million events per day
- Largest SAP implementation in Europe in terms of the number of modules deployed, and their complexity
- More than 1,000 servers
- 10 terabytes of RAM memory
- 100 terabytes of data online
- 30 km of cabling
- Total installation weight: approximately 45 tons
- High availability: 99.9% per year
- Power consumption: 950 kV*A
- Total budget managed by Chorus: more than $500 billion per year
¹ Agence pour l’informatique Financière de l’Etat
² La Loi Organique Relative aux Lois de Finances (Constitutional Bylaw on Budget Acts, a new financial constitution for the management of government expenses)
ᶟ Révision générale des politiques publiques