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Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Shared Services Requirements: Kicking the Tires

Buying a car is a process that many of us have gone through at one point or another (more than once for a lot of us). Thinking back on that process raises the question of why some of the simple techniques we use in our personal lives aren’t being better applied in the workplace.

If we can apply four lessons from buying a car to the workplace, we can be as happy with our new systems as we are with our new cars.

1) Focus on what’s unique

2) Leave the engine to the engineers

3) Keep your priorities straight

4) Take it for a test drive

The process of buying a car can teach us a lot about how we should (and shouldn’t) approach requirements gathering for shared services migrations. Use the resources at your disposal to start with the baseline and focus on what’s unique, stay away from trying to design the system, make sure you stay realistic about your priorities, and of course take it for a test drive. This will help make sure that you don’t end up with a high-end sports car when all you can afford and all you really need is the economy model.

About the Authors

Teia Clarke, Deloitte Consulting Senior Manager in Federal Practice Shared Services

Karen Ganley, Deloitte Consulting Specialist Leader in Oracle and Technology Implementation

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Sunday, November 15, 2015

FY2015 US Federal Financial Statement Audit Due Monday

The audited financial statements of the 24 CFO Act agencies and participating federal organizations & commissions are due to be published on Monday November 16, 2015.

The following urls provide starting points to locate the publications.

http://www.performance.gov/
http://www.gao.gov/key_issues/federal_financial_accountability/issue_summary
http://www.treasury.gov/about/budget-performance/annual-performance-plan/Pages/default.aspx
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Thursday, October 22, 2015

HUD MARKS A MAJOR SHARED SERVICES MILESTONE WITH FINANCIAL SERVICES MIGRATION

Department’s New Core Project is on a path to become first cabinet-level agency to fully migrate financial systems
WASHINGTON, D.C. – October 21, 2015 – (RealEstateRama) — Today, October 20, 2015, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) announces another major milestone in transitioning HUD’s financial management and procurement operations to the U.S. Department of Treasury’s Administrative Resource Center (ARC).  This milestone marks the shift of financial and procurement management functions from HUD to ARC. Although significant work remains, HUD is the first cabinet-level agency to move core financial systems to a Federal Shared Service Provider.In 2010, HUD reviewed its aging financial systems, and decided to transition from costly legacy systems that did not provide the necessary scale and breadth required to meet today’s financial management needs. 

This collaborative relationship between HUD and Treasury is the result of the Federal IT Shared Services Strategy. In May 2012, the Office of Management & Budget (OMB) announced the strategy to agencies for identifying and operating shared services for commodity, support, and mission IT functions. That strategy recommended a phased approach for implementing shared services, (e.g., “crawl-walk-run”) beginning with intra-agency commodity IT, to allow agencies to gain proficiency, then evolving to support and mission IT areas.

The transformative project has made significant progress to date. In October 2014, HUD began its phased implementation, migrating travel functions, and in February 2015, its time and attendance functions. Together with the most recent payment processing milestones, HUD’s New Core project continues to enhance financial transparency and analytical capabilities, increase regulatory compliance, and improve efficiency through the transition of HUD’s core financials and key administrative systems and services. 


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About HUD:

HUD’s mission is to create strong, sustainable, inclusive communities and quality affordable homes for all. HUD is working to strengthen the housing market to bolster the economy and protect consumers; meet the need for quality affordable rental homes: utilize housing as a platform for improving quality of life; build inclusive and sustainable communities free from discrimination; and transform the way HUD does business. More information about HUD and its programs is available on the Internet at www.hud.govand http://espanol.hud.gov. You can also follow HUD on twitter @HUDgov, on Facebook at  www.facebook.com/HUD, or sign up for news alerts on HUD’s News Listserv. 

About Treasury’s Administrative Resource Center (ARC):  

ARC helps customers, like HUD, focus on their mission by delivering responsive, customer-focused, cost-effective administrative support to  other federal agencies. The reimbursable administrative services that ARC provides include financial management, human resources, procurement, travel and relocation, and information technology services.  For more information please visit: our website at https://fiscal.treas.gov. 

Jereon Brown 202-708-0685 
http://www.hud.gov/news/index.cfm

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Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Agencies Looking for Internal Data Turn to USASpending.gov

It’s surprising how many agencies now use USASpending.gov to “access their own data,” said David Lebryk, the fiscal assistant Treasury secretary who on Monday delivered an upbeat assessment of governmentwide progress in implementing the 2014 Digital Accountability and Transparency Act.

“We’re off to a great start on tough challenges, but outsiders don’t really appreciate how complex government is,” he said at a breakfast sponsored by the Johns Hopkins University Government Analytics program and REI Systems.

“We’re not a small business,” Lebryk said, referring to the federal government. “We’re the biggest entity in the world. And at a time of budget constraints, there is more scrutiny of spending, of which the DATA Act is a part.”

Lebryk and Comptroller David Mader are leading the team charged with implementing the DATA Act, which is designed to standardize spending information in machine-readable formats to make it accessible to the public. “With no new funding,” Lebryk said, “we’ve tried to think it through creatively, to use technology as our friend. We’re not doing massive system changes, and it’s important that the data be owned by the agencies.”

This spring’s upgrade of USASpending.gov—to which some transparency advocates objected—was done with an eye on three types of users, Lebryk said: casual users in the general public; those who want analytic tools to drill deeply; and those who simply want the data and don’t care about the tools. The recent upgrade was intended to enhance the second group, he said. “We were trying for improvements in usability, but not trying to improve the quality of the data,” which is where the DATA Act will come in, he said.

One of Lebryk’s teammates at the Office of Management and Budget gave additional details on progress at the June 10 Data Act Summit sponsored by the Data Transparency Coalition.

Karen Lee, branch chief at OMB’s Office of Federal Financial Management, said the DATA Act already is, “changing the way government does its work, changing the way it interacts with non-federal partners” as it becomes institutionalized. She described pilot programs to reduce the burden of agency reporting. “There’s no one regulation or policy that is a magic bullet, as there are many sources for the burden,” Lee said. But the multi-agency implementation team is seeking to curb multiple requirements for supplying the same information, she said.
-Charles S. Clark, GovExec.com
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Thursday, June 11, 2015

Why agencies break the law on improper payments

Despite an attempted crackdown by the Obama administration, agencies are increasingly likely to make payment mistakes. The error rate rose from 3.53 percent in fiscal 2013 to 4.02 percent in fiscal 2014. In other words, the government misspent about $10 billion more last year than the year earlier.

That we knew, thanks to a Government Accountability Office report issued a few months back. But recent inspector general reports round out the picture by showing where agencies go wrong.

Of the 24 CFO Act agencies — those required to have audited financial statements —about half failed to comply with the law on improper payments, according to a preliminary analysis of the IG reports by the accounting firm Grant Thornton. The low scorers include the agencies that misspent the most money: the departments of Health and Human Services, Treasury, Agriculture and the Social Security Administration.

The overall picture seems, at first glance, worse than in past years, when inspectors general evaluated agencies on a multilevel scale that ranged from "compliant" to "noncompliant." While agencies have made strides in some of their programs, complying with the improper payments law is now pass-fail, thanks to guidance the White House issued in October.

"They're trying to say, ‘No more wiggle room. You're either compliant or not compliant,'" said Grant Thornton Principal Robert Shea.

-Emily Kopp, FederalNewsRadio.com
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Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Auditors Say Feds Needlessly Wasted $43 Billion

Every year, tens of billions of tax dollars are lost to waste, fraud and abuse within the federal government. But much more could be lost if it wasn't for a team of federal watchdogs tasked with flagging any inefficiencies or wrongdoing within all government programs and projects.
That's according to the Special Council of the Inspectors General on Integrity and Efficiency (CIGIE)—the group in charge of overseeing the 15 presidentially appointed IG's. The group consistently reminds lawmakers of out how the auditors' work saves the federal government billions of dollars each year—despite their annual collective operating budget of over $1 billion. 
This year, CIGIE said that taken together, all of the auditors' recommendations this year would result in about $32 billion in savings, The Washington Examiner first reported. Recommendations typically include telling agencies to ramp up their oversight or come up with a new policy that will help them run more efficiently.
The investigations this year have already resulted in $11 billion that was returned to the Treasury
The IG's total operating budget for 2014 was about $1.6 billion, according to CIGIE's financial audit for 2014.
-Brianna Ehley, CNBC.com
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Friday, December 26, 2014

What IT Budget Authority Really Means for CIOs

Federal CIOs got an early Christmas gift from Congress in 2014: explicit authority to plan and approve their department’s information technology budgets.
Under the Federal Information Technology Acquisition Reform Act (FITARA), which Congress passed as an amendment to the 2015 National Defense Authorization Act, CIOs are responsible for reviewing and approving department IT contracts. Department CIOs will also play a more direct role in the hiring of any bureau-level CIOs. The new law requires that department CIOs approve those appointments.
“I think this is going to be an interesting time in federal IT because, for the first time, we will see federal CIOs take ownership of the IT landscape in their agencies,” says General Services Administration (GSA) CIO and FedTech must-read IT blogger Sonny Hashmi.
FITARA applies to CIOs at civilian departments.
GSA was an early adopter of the consolidated IT approach, and Hashmi has experienced the benefits and challenges of having the agency’s IT under his authority.
He cautions against the bureaucracy that can bog down organizations with consolidated IT. They can become oversight driven, slow to respond and less innovative if they don’t strike the right balance, Hashmi says.
At GSA, Hashmi and his team are investing in transformative projects while reducing the amount of legacy systems. Most GSA systems are antiquated, and some are a quarter of a century old. While the systems run well, modernizing them would help reduce costs and make systems more flexible to meet emerging technology demands.
Federal Communications Commission CIO David Bray has similar challenges with legacy systems. Bray wants to find an easier way to port legacy systems to cloud-based providers.

-Nicole Blake Johnson, FedTechMagazine.com
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Wednesday, December 17, 2014

FedScoop Exclusive: HHS to lead 2-year DATA Act pilot

The Digital Accountability and Transparency Act is in full swing, with the Office of Management and Budget and the Treasury Department catching headlines in their path to issue a governmentwide set of financial data standards by May 2015. But quietly in the background, the Department of Health and Human Services is gearing up to lead a two-year pilot of the DATA Act to test how data standardization in a complex federal ecosystem works.
Section 5 of the DATA Act — a mandate for financial data transparency in conjunction with USAspending.gov — requires OMB to launch a pilot, and the office chose HHS to test the waters of the act’s massive and complex data standardization efforts. Beginning next May, a year after the act was signed into law, HHS will be the test dummy for the grant portion of the DATA Act to help OMB, the Treasury and the federal government as a whole better understand things like “the impact of data standardization across many different lines of business” and “where there are opportunities to eliminate unnecessary duplication of financial reporting,” Amy Haseltine, director of DATA Act Program Management Office and chief DATA Act officer with HHS, explained to FedScoop.
This two-year pilot of the act is by no means a walk in the park, though all agencies are required by May 2017 to report their financial statements in accordance with the new standards. But Haseltine thinks HHS will benefit greatly from its work. 

-Billy Mitchell, FedScoop.com 
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Wednesday, November 19, 2014

OMB to Alter Guidance for Reducing Improper Payments

Inspectors general are the “best friends” of program managers and the White House budget office when it comes to catching fraud and reducing agency improper payments, the deputy U.S. controller said on Wednesday.
Mark Reger, now in his third month as the No. 2 at the Office of Federal Financial Management, said his team is reworking  Circular A-123 guidance on controlling for financial integrity “to make it less prescriptive and to rely on the people on the ground,” particularly inspectors general.
Reger, a former Maryland State Treasury official, noted that the rate of bad payments has dropped steadily over the past four years, thanks in part to Congress’s enactment of the 2012 Credit Card Fraud Prevention Act and the 2012 Improper Payments Elimination and Recovery Act. “The most important tool is the education of agency enforcers in the field,” he said, praising the watchdogs for gathering better data, working together and sharing information. “I don’t know a single inspector general who isn’t thrilled to find additional money.”

The increasing use of data analytics has allowed progress in such areas as federal employee misuse of credit orthat it’s not okay to steal from federal government, it’s not sexy,” Reger said. purchasing cards, the deputy controller said. “The data is now generated back to the agencies every day,” he said. “Employees found to have committed fraud have had their cards cancelled, or been fired, or disciplined in some fashion.”
Coming changes to the financial controls circular will include requiring fewer reports and more-detailed categories of fraud, or “bucketing,” to distinguish, for example, between an unmerited payment and a claim lacking proper documentation, he said.
Reger urged IGs, program managers and vendors to report fraud to the Government Accountability Office’s fraud line at fraudnet@gao.net, and to peruse their own Medicare bills in search of bad charges.  “Please reinforce that it’s not okay to steal from federal government, it’s not sexy,” Reger said.
- Charles S. Clark, GovExec.com
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