A Web portal that collects money for federal agencies has gathered nearly $1 billion since its debut just 10 months ago, according to the Treasury Department. Pay.gov
was developed by Treasury's Financial Management Service (FMS) and made its online debut in October of last year. The online tool serves as a centralized payment collection system for government agencies that sell things to the public, or that conduct transactions with other agencies or businesses. Pay.gov collects money owed to government agencies for fees, fines, sales, leases, loans and certain taxes for deposit in the treasury. According to Brett Smith, acting director of applied technology for FMS, Pay.gov currently counts about six government agencies as customers, including the General Services Administration, the Library of Congress, the Veterans Affairs Department and the Treasury Department's Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms agency. The biggest challenge in setting up Pay.gov was developing a system that works for a lot of different users, Smith said. "We have been working with a lot of customers and they all see themselves as different," Smith said. Pay.gov converts agencies' payment forms into Web pages so the public can pay fees online. Pay.gov will provide services to federal agencies for free, as long as the service is related to payment collection. In addition to making secure online forms and collecting money for agencies, Pay.gov offers user authentication and verification, and reporting services. The reporting service offers detailed information about forms accepted by Pay.gov, and information about collections that are processed through Pay.gov. Although Pay.gov is still in its infancy, the system will eventually be able to give agencies sophisticated reporting data on payments in real time. The current round of testing on the new reporting capabilities should be finished in September, Smith said.