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Wednesday, March 01, 2017

Financial Management Conference Scheduled

The Joint Financial Management Improvement Program–a joint program of the Treasury, GAO, OMB and OPM–will hold its annual Federal Financial Management Conference on May 8 at the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center in Washington, D.C.
“This one-day conference provides a forum for those in the federal financial management community to learn about current issues, exchange knowledge, and share experiences in improving financial management operations and policies,” according to the announcement.
Also, the organization is soliciting nominations through March 7 for the annual Donald L. Scantlebury Memorial Award, which recognizes “senior financial management executives who, through outstanding and continuous leadership in financial management, have been principally responsible for significant economies, efficiencies and improvements in the government.”
Further information is on the CFO Council site.

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How CXOs can close the value-proposition gap

Federal financial managers received some shrewd advice last week. Stop talking like financial managers.
Stop talking about clean opinions. Don’t talk about material weaknesses. You don’t need to mention the CFO Act or the Digital Accountability and Transparency (DATA) Act.
With new leaders coming in across every agency, federal financial managers, instead, should focus on value and mission support.
Adam Goldberg, the executive architect at the Treasury Department’s Financial Innovation and Transformation (FIT), said by focusing on how the CFO’s office furthers the agency’s mission, agency budget and financial management executives can change the conversation about back-office functions.
Richard Haley, the FBI CFO, said his folks have to communicate in the language that agents and leaders use every day. He said they shouldn’t have to work hard to understand financial management initiatives.
Goldberg said it’s about shifting the conversation to talk about what the agency needs to better support agency operations.
The point of the Federal IT Acquisition Reform Act (FITARA), for example, aims to close the gap between IT, acquisition and mission areas. It forces the chief information officer into discussions about planning and procuring mission critical technology.
In the human resources world, we’ve heard about chief human capital officers begging and pleading mission area hiring managers to make decisions, review applications and are involved in every step of the process. The Office of Personnel Management issued guidance in November stressing the need to engage and empower hiring managers.
The idea behind all of these efforts is to break down the siloes that have built up over time for probably no real reason, creates layers of inefficiency and leads to the perception of a stilted bureaucracy and inefficiency.
Treasury is trying to help agencies remove these barriers for the financial management folks. The department is developing a maturity model to help agencies think about how their CFO offices are impacting mission beyond just “being the money people.”

-Jason Miller, FederalNewsRadio.com
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Saturday, January 21, 2017

GAO: Many federal financial books are so sloppy they can’t be audited


The Government Accountability Office says many federal agencies’ financial books are in such bad shape that they cannot be audited.

In a report released last week, the GAO said material weaknesses in accounting procedures “hamper the federal government’s ability to reliably report a significant portion of its assets, liabilities, costs and other related information.”

The GAO said its report on the U.S. government’s consolidated financial statements for fiscal years 2015 and 2016 “underscores that much work remains to improve federal financial management.” The agency couldn’t even express an opinion on the balance sheets because of the weak financial reporting.

GAO noted that 34 percent of the federal government’s reported assets and 18 percent of its reported net cost relate to federal entities that were unable to issue audited financial statements, were unable to receive audit opinions on the complete set of financial statements or received a disclaimer of opinion on their statements.
The GAO called out the Department of Health and Human Services and Department of Defense, in particular, for weak internal controls.
The agency also took a shot at the Department of the Treasury and the Office of Management and Budget, noting that some of the “numerous recommendations” GAO made to those agencies in previous years to address internal control deficiencies remain unaddressed. The secretary of the Treasury and director of OMB are required to annually submit financial statements for the U.S. government, audited by the GAO, to the president and Congress.
-Johnny Kampis, Watchdog.org
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Friday, January 20, 2017

Despite billions invested in DoD ERP systems, few financial managers see reduction in workload

The Defense Department has spent well over a decade and tens of billions of dollars to buy enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems with the hope that they would help the military adopt modern, automated business processes and pave the way to financial auditability. But a strikingly small number of DoD financial managers think the systems have done anything to make their jobs easier.
The finding is part of an annual survey and report by the American Society of Military Comptrollers and Grant Thornton. Only 20 percent of the Defense financial workforce said the ERPs had reduced their workload. Another 20 percent said they had made no difference, and 15 percent said they’d actually made their lives more complicated than working with the decades-old legacy systems the ERPS are replacing.
This year’s report represents the ninth year in a row in which researchers have surveyed hundreds of rank-and-file and senior executive members of the Pentagon’s financial management community. Aside from IT modernization, it found at least three other common themes that repeated themselves year-after-year.
Among the most obvious: comptrollers have become fed up with budget uncertainty after having to navigate through eight consecutive years of continuing resolutions, government shutdowns and limitations imposed by the Budget Control Act. As one anonymous respondent put it: “We’re great at building a budget and manpower models based on forecast costs and requirements,” but budgets have had to be “modified continually in response to lower than expected levels of actual receipt of funds.”

- FederalNewsRadio.com
https://shar.es/1O4IMB via @fednewsradio

Thursday, January 12, 2017

US Treasury Publishes the Financial Report of the United States Government - 2016

The annual Financial Report of the U.S. Government provides to the public a comprehensive overview of the Government's current financial position, as well as critical insight into our long term fiscal outlook.

The Citizen’s Guide to the Fiscal Year 2016 Financial Report of the U.S. Government (Financial Report) summarizes the U.S. Government’s current financial position and condition, and discusses key financial topics, including fiscal sustainability. This Guide and the Financial Report are produced by the U.S. Department of the Treasury in coordination with the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) of the Executive Office of the President. The Secretary of the Treasury, Director of OMB, and Comptroller General of the United States at the Government Accountability Office believe that the information discussed in this Guide is important to all Americans.

Find the Report here....

Monday, January 02, 2017

IG: Justice Department shows leadership for DATA Act rollout, but gaps remain

The Justice Department is on schedule to meet the DATA Act implementation deadline — sort of.
DOJ’s Office of Inspector General recently issued a review of the department’s progress toward standardizing its financial spending  reports, and according to the internal watchdog, “nothing came to our attention that caused us to believe that a material modification should be made” to Justice’s plans to meet the May 2017 deadline.
But the IG did note “areas of concern that potentially could impact the department’s ability to most effectively meet all the requirements within the requisite timeframe.”
Those areas of concern range from completing a full inventory, mapping and gap analysis of the department to an incomplete data extraction standard.
The inspector general looked at the first four steps of the eight-step plan recommended by the Treasury Department for DATA Act implementation. Treasury and the Office of Management and Budget are the agencies spearheading the work.
Within the Digital Accountability and Transparency Act is a requirement that agency IGs report on the law’s implementation. The first set of reports was due in November, however, the Council of Inspectors General on Integrity and Efficiency (CIGIE) recommended last December that because the spending data would not be available for November 2016, that the first required reports be due November 2017, with additional reports in 2019 and 2020.
According to the review, the Department has three financial systems: the Unified Financial Management System (UFMS); the Financial Management Information System 2 (FMIS2), a legacy financial system; and the Systems, Applications, and Products (SAP) system.
Instead of inventorying these systems, DOJ inventoried the Drug Enforcement Administration’s (DEA) procurement information in UFMS and an initial inventory of the Office of Justice Programs’ (OJP) grant award information in FMIS2 — with the hope that the lessons learned could be applied to the other financial systems.
-Meredith Sommers, FederalNewsRadio.com
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Friday, November 18, 2016

Sheila Conley: Enterprise risk management properly implemented could strengthen decision making

Sheila Conley, deputy assistant secretary and deputy chief financial officer at the Department of Health and Human Services, is one of 50 new fellows for the National Academy of Public Administration.

How will you use your NAPA fellowship to promote/influence good government?

NAPA provides a unique opportunity to engage with a wide range of fellows, who are knowledgeable and experienced in government management and policy matters.
I am looking forward to tapping into the collective expertise and wisdom of the fellows to help inform and advance the business portfolio at HHS while also participating in efforts to address pressing governmentwide issues, such as reducing improper payments and enhancing program integrity.  It is more important than ever to champion good government initiatives and best practices, many of which can be gleaned from NAPA reports and studies.

What do you think is the most important change the government needs to make in the next 5 years?

Enterprise risk management (ERM) is an emerging discipline in the federal government that, if properly implemented could strengthen agency decision-making, performance and ability to accomplish mission goals.  ERM challenges agencies to develop a risk aware culture, identify and prioritize enterprise risks and establish a risk appetite to help align agency resources with areas of greatest risk.  Successful ERM implementation requires changes in organizational culture, behaviors and attitudes about risk at every level of the agency. While it is critical for ERM to be endorsed by agency officials “setting the tone at the top,” it is also important to assess the “mood in the middle” and “buzz at the base” of the organization to develop a sustainable program that aligns with the agency’s culture.  Depending on an organization’s willingness and ability to enhance ERM, it could take five years or more to achieve the many benefits of a successful ERM program. 



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Monday, November 14, 2016

OMB’s latest DATA Act guidance highlights PII, financial assistance

Personally identifiable information and data “validity” are the focus of the Office of Management and Budget’s latest DATA Act guidance.
In a Nov. 6 memo to agencies, OMB delves into detail for reporting certain types of federal financial assistance and awards under the Digital Accountability and Transparency Act.
The guidance does not change or affect any existing policy, OMB clarifies, but does “further [specify] (1) responsibilities for reporting financial information for awards involving Intragovernmental Transfers (IGTs), (2) guidance for reporting financial assistance award records containing personally identifiable information (PII), and (3) guidance for agencies to provide the Senior Accountable Official (SAO) assurance over quarterly submissions to USASpending.gov,” the memo states.
According to the latest guidance, two types of intragovernmental transfers are included under DATA Act reporting: allocation transfers and buy/sell transactions.
OMB directs agencies that starting with their first DATA Act reporting on allocation transfers, the agency will “submit and assure the appropriations information, program activity and object class, and award financial information for allocation transfers for display on USASpending.gov.”
As for buy/sell transactions, both the awarding and funding agencies must submit information for spending reports.
Under the new guidance, if a Federal Award Identification Number (FAIN) is included in details for a single award, the agency should report that award to USASpending “as a single, discrete record.”
If single award-level reporting isn’t possible, agencies can report aggregated awards at a county or state level.
As of the Nov. 6 guidance, however, the DAIMS [DATA Act Information Model Schema] only offers guidance for aggregate county level.
OMB directs agencies to continue the county-level reporting practice until that schema is modified.
The guidance is the latest in a  series of OPM memos and updates for agencies, as they prepare for the May 2017 implementation of the DATA Act.
Officials with OMB and Treasury — the two agencies spearheading the DATA Act’s implementation — stand by the progress toward full adoption, while GAO auditors have repeatedly warned that the federal spending standardization could fall behind if agencies don’t get in line with the legislation’s requirements.
In early August, a GAO report warned that Treasury’s 4-month delay for releasing its schema version 1.0, triggered the delay of industry software patches while companies waited for a “stable version of the schema.”
That assessment came on the heels of another GAO report that said the full rollout of the DATA Act is at risk if OMB and Treasury don’t take steps to improve the review of agency plans and monitoring of progress updates.

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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@FedCFO