SFA funding software delay as provider data deadline looms

Providers will have just eight working days to check and correct their 2013/14 academic year data as the Skills Funding Agency (SFA) yesterday announced a further delay to their new funding software.

At the 25 September information authority board meeting Rich Williams, head of the Data Service (which sits within the SFA) said: “We intend to deliver all of products in the Data Collections and Funding Transformation (DCFT) programme as planned on or before Thursday, 24 October.

As usual this will give providers at least two weeks to resolve any data errors and return their individualised learner record (ILR) R03 data, which is due by Wednesday, 6 November.”

The DCFT programme includes supplying providers with software for checking for data errors and calculating funding in 2013/14, known as the Funding Information System (FIS).

Currently only a test version the software (FIS Beta) is available, which many providers have not installed and does not calculate funding.

However, yesterday the Data Service said: “Technical issues concerning the bringing together of a number of different Agency products and systems, combined with the complexity of managing numerous suppliers in the same technical space, have lead to a change in our planned delivery.”

There was no mention of the delay in the SFA weekly update, also published yesterday, but the Data Service announcement continued: “FIS Beta will be taken offline from 10am Thursday 24 October 2013 to allow for essential updates to be applied. Once FIS Beta is available again at 9am on Monday 28 October, more issues will have been fixed, including:

•   Improvements to a number of reports
•   Data issues associated with Functional Skills
•   Validation errors on a number of forms

A new set of learning aim data will also be uploaded during this down time. A full reinstall of FIS Beta will be required which means that all installed copies of FIS Beta must be removed.”

There are just eight working days from Monday 28 October to the data return deadline on Wednesday 6 November, and as the first data return of the year it will mean many providers will need to check tens of thousands of learner records.

The Data Service announcement added: “DCFT products continue to be developed with a revised delivery timeline that will support R04 on 6 December.”

The announcement included no reference to the Learning Aims Reference System (LARS), also part of the DCFT programme, which holds qualification cash values, and is required to calculate the funding value of the ILR data.

FE Week is making enquiries with the SFA as to when LARS will be available.