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Thursday, December 29, 2005

EU Clears Oracle to Buy Siebel Systems: Financial News - Yahoo! Finance

BRUSSELS, Belgium (AP) -- The European Commission on Thursday cleared Oracle Corp.'s proposed US$5.85 billion (euro5 billion) acquisition of rival Siebel Systems Inc., the last regulatory hurdle for the deal.

Friday, December 23, 2005

OPM financial and procurement shop seeks software training

The Office of Personnel Management is seeking a third party to train the agency's workforce on new software designed to help modernize its financial and procurement systems.

In a recent notice, OPM said its Financial Systems Modernization Project Office (FSMPO) requires training in Oracle Federal Financials 11i, an off-the-shelf package that the agency will use for its modernization project.

The training should be a high-level overview of the software's federal financial applications and cover features, implementation considerations and module integration.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Interior extends financial system recompete

The Interior Department has extended the deadline for proposals from vendors to work on the Financial and Business Modernization System, the agency's core enterprise resource planning system.

The department ousted systems integrator BearingPoint Inc. from the job in September and is seeking a new vendor to take over the McLean, Va. company's work.

Interior has extended the proposal due date from this month to early January, according to procurement consultants Input of Reston, Va.

FBMS is intended to provide comprehensive financial services for Interior's various agencies and bureaus and could reach a value of $80 million to $120 million over five years, according to industry estimates.

EEOC Finances in Order

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’ financial reporting has been approved for the second consecutive year.

Independent auditors pored through the Commission’s FY 2005 financial records and found the agency had presented the information accurately and fairly.

EEOC’s FY 2005 financial records can be found at http://www.eeoc.gov/abouteeoc/plan/par/2005/index.html.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

www.GovExec.com - OMB report shows mixed progress on technology initiatives (12/20/05)

In the past year, the federal government met major information technology milestones and saw increased use of e-government services by citizens, businesses and agencies, according to a report released Monday by the Office of Management and Budget.

Titled "Expanding E-Government: Improved Service Delivery for the American People Using Information Technology," the report assessed progress in 2005 and set goals for the coming year.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Energy struggles with IT security financial systems

Two reports just released by the Energy Department's inspector general are critical of the department's cybersecurity efforts.

In a special report released Dec. 19, cybersecurity is one of seven areas that IG Gregory Friedman considers a significant management challenge for the department.

"[O]ur annual evaluation of the department's unclassified cybersecurity program noted weaknesses that could compromise critical systems if left uncorrected," the report stated. "We found problems with ensuring that: (1) only authorized individuals could access information resources; (2) duties and responsibilities for processing financial transactions were properly segregated; and (3) modifications to applications and systems were authorized and properly controlled."

In the area of financial management, in a separate memo to Energy secretary Samuel Bodman dated Nov. 14 but posted to the IG's Web site in the past few days, Friedman reported that the department failed its financial audit for fiscal 2005. He attributed much of the failure to problems in implementing a new accounting system.

Monday, December 19, 2005

Defense financial problems sink another federal audit

The Defense Department is one of four agencies whose serious financial-management deficiencies continue to be the biggest impediment to the federal government achieving a clean financial bill of health according to the Government Accountability Office.

Four of the 24 major agencies failed their audit: Defense, NASA, and the Energy and Homeland Security departments.

The inability of the government to adequately account for spending between agencies and agencies' ineffective processes to complete their consolidated financial statements also were major weaknesses, GAO said in a report last week. Despite these weaknesses, agencies still were able to meet requirements to file year-end statements on an accelerated schedule, within 45 days.

GAO was assessing the Treasury Department's Fiscal 2005 Financial Report of the U.S. Government. The federal fiscal year ended Sept. 30.

USDA to replace financial management system

The Agriculture Department will seek proposals to replace its core financial management system to improve its performance and comply with federal accounting and system standards.

The acquisition will include program management, transition and migration support, application and integrator services, and hosting services for the USDA Financial Management Modernization Initiative.

The request for proposals will be available on or about Dec. 29. Agriculture will conduct a pre-proposal conference in mid-January 2006, the department said in a pre-solicitation notice last week.

Survey: CIOs insecure about President's Management Agenda

Federal chief information officers and other information technology leaders are much less confident of their progress toward implementing crucial elements of the President's Management Agenda, a new survey finds.

The Association for Federal Information Resources Management, a nonprofit industry group that conducted the survey, noted a precipitous decline in respondents who think the federal government is making progress on the Office of Management and Budget's lines of business and e-government initiatives.

Only 15 percent of those surveyed thought their agencies were making progress on e-government and the lines of business, down from 44 percent in 2004.

The number of those who saw little progress more than doubled, from 10 percent in 2004 to 26 percent.

www.GovExec.com - Government flunks annual audit, again (12/16/05)

For the ninth year running, the federal government failed to achieve a clean financial audit, largely because of accounting issues at the Pentagon.

This year's results, released on Thursday, looked much like those from recent years. Internal problems with government accounting systems prevented the Government Accountability Office from reaching a reliable conclusion about the accuracy of the Treasury Department's Fiscal Year 2005 Financial Report of the U.S. Government.

Interior adding services customers to Lines of Business

The Interior Department's National Business Center is preparing up to four proposals to compete to provide financial management services for agencies as a center of excellence under the Lines of Business Consolidation Initiative.

The NBC, Interior's fee-for-service business provider, hopes to add some of those proposals as customers, said NBC director Doug Bourgeois. The center was a financial management shared-services provider before the Office of Management and Budget introduced the current Lines of Business initiative. In fact, financial management accounts for 25 percent of NBC business, Bourgeois said.

"The challenge is to create a business model for financial management services that is on par with the private sector while complying with federal regulations," Bourgeois said yesterday at an industry event sponsored by market research firm Input Inc. of Reston, Va.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

GAO faults U.S. financial reporting

The U.S. government didn't maintain effective controls over financial reporting in the latest fiscal year, potentially skewering the accuracy of federal financial statements, a congressional investigative group found. In a letter to President Bush and Congress, Comptroller General of the United States David Walker said government accountants found 'material deficiencies' in the federal government's financial statements for 2005 and 2004. 'The federal government did not maintain effective internal control over financial reporting...and compliance with significant laws and regulations as of September 30, 2005,' wrote Walker, who heads the Government Accountability Office.

Smoothing out the bumps in program management

Be engaged, inspire employees and keep the lines of communication open with contracting staff - those are a few of the suggestions made by a panel on program management, sponsored by the E-Gov Institute recently in Washington.

Three government officials shared ideas on how to bridge the divide between program officials and contracting staff during the acquisition process.

Susan Gerbing, program manager for the Health IT Program Management Office, Office of Information at the Veterans Health Administration, gave an example of the difficulties that can arise in a large acquisition. The Veterans Affairs Department?s Core Financial and Logistics System (CoreFLS) was a $472 million financial management system that died on the vine in part because of poor communication, she said.

Future e-gov must integrate past lessons

For electronic government, the future is less about IT and more about standardizing business practices. Enter the Office of Management and Budgets' Lines of Business consolidation initiative - in effect, the next generation of e-government.

OMB launched its LOB effort in February 2004, focusing on case management, federal health architecture, financial management, human resources management and grants management. The administration added IT Security last February and likely will put together task forces to look at procurement, geospatial and records management as potential LOB next year.

OMB has certified agency Centers of Excellence to provide human resources or financial services to agencies based on a set of qualifications. While IT systems must be up to par, agencies? ability to accept and process data in a standard way is the key to the success of future e-gov programs.

www.GovExec.com - Three agencies honored with top management awards (12/14/05)

The Office of Personnel Management on Tuesday announced the winners of the 2005 President's Quality Award, the top management honor for executive branch agencies.

Four awards were granted for management excellence in three categories. OPM selected winners from 47 submissions, and honored them at an official awards ceremony at the Corcoran Gallery of Art in Washington on Tuesday night.

The award for Overall Management went to the Labor Department in recognition of its effectiveness in implementing the five components of the President's Management Agenda: personnel reform, competitive sourcing, financial management, electronic government and performance budgeting.

Labor was the first and has been the only agency to earn the highest rating -- "green" -- in each category on the administration's management score card. It earned praise for enhancing performance through monthly departmental Management Review Board meetings to discuss cross-cutting management issues, and the establishment of internal PMA score cards for its 15 agencies and components.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Matthews resigns as Transportation CIO

Dan Matthews, the Transportation Department's chief information officer, is the latest federal information technology executive to resign from office. Matthews said he plans to return to Lockheed Martin, where he worked for 17 years.

Status check: 2006 appropriations bills almost complete

Capitol Hill is seeing its seasonal flurry of activity as Congress tries to wrap up its work on several fiscal 2006 appropriations bills that must pass so the rest of the government can get to work in the new year.

Before going home for the Thanksgiving holiday, Congress passed a second continuing resolution keeping the government open until Dec. 17. Two spending bills - the Defense bill (HR 2863) and the Labor, Health and Human Services, Education departments and related agencies bill (HR 3010) - remain unfinished heading into the last few weeks of the 109th congressional session, and more than two months into fiscal 2006.

Of note:
Immigration and Customs Enforcement - $40.2 million for systems modernization
Labor - $6.2 million for new core accounting system
Justice - $10 million for a unified financial-management system administered by the Unified Financial Management System Executive Council
OPM - $1.4 million for the E-Payroll project; $1.4 million for the Human Resources Line of Business effort.



New methods promise to change the financial and administrative processes of state government

Look out - with budgets recovering from years of hardship, and delayed projects getting back on track, the state and local government finance and administration market is expected to generate some substantial heat in 2006.

One of the forces driving the new projects is a simple concept, though one that industry officials said has, of late, largely been ignored by the public sector: Understand what resources you've got, where they are and how they're being used.

Having grappled since 2000 with severe budget shortfalls, states have emerged from that crucible determined to implement new automated financial and business applications that will let them save money, operate more efficiently and better understand their fiscal positions.

OPM PASSES AUDIT

The Office of Personnel Management accurately reported its FY 2005 financial data, according to an independent audit released last week.

A private sector financial company, KPMG, reviewed OPM's financial reporting practices and balance sheets of the retirement, health benefits and life insurance programs.

"In our opinion, the financial statements ... present fairly, in all material respects, the consolidated financial position of OPM and the financial position of each of the programs as of Sept. 30, 2005 and 2004," the report accompanying the audit stated.

The audit also stated that OPM had no material weaknesses in its internal control over financial reporting, but that OPM could improve its reporting in five areas.

Monday, December 12, 2005

2005: Best places, big stresses and more change

Employee surveys and management score cards gave agency executives fresh insight into how far they advanced the President's Management Agenda in 2005. But even when score card fatigue set in, no executive leaders expected to escape public scrutiny of their agencies' performance. The year was notable for the number of congressional hearings on federal management issues and expanded efforts to use information technology to manage employees' training and performance appraisals.

Defense business modernization still a work in progress (12/9/05)

The Defense Department has not satisfied all the requirements for modernizing its business systems outlined in the 2005 Defense Authorization Act, according to the Government Accountability Office.

The department has fully complied with only one of the act's provisions, GAO stated in a recent report (GAO-06-219).

Friday, December 09, 2005

www.GovExec.com - Transportation IG to identify pork available for Katrina relief (12/9/05)

Members of Congress are notorious for earmarking transportation money for projects in their home states and districts. They can then tout the earmarks to their constituents as proof of their prowess on Capitol Hill.

But a dirty little secret of earmarks -- pejoratively called 'pork' by opponents of the practice -- is that, sometimes, the money never gets spent, or the projects never get done.
The money, however, ends up sitting around, trapped in federal coffers because 'earmarked funds must be used only on the specifically designated project,' Assistant Inspector General Kurt Hyde explained in a November 30 memorandum to the FHWA. Earmarked funds cannot be spent on other projects without an OK from Congress.

Hyde said that data from FHWA's financial management system shows that 'significant' amounts of earmarked but unspent funds are in limbo, some designated as long ago as 1983. And that's just in the five Gulf Coast states -- Alabama, Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Texas -- that are the target of the IG's initial review.

CIO Council delivers EVM policy framework

The CIO Council unveiled a policy framework this week to help federal agencies develop earned value management (EVM) system policies.

EVM policies focus on major acquisitions and investments that require special management attention because of their large costs or their importance to an agency's mission, according to council documents. The new policy framework requires agencies to address projects' finalized cost, schedule and performance goals.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

AGA Study Examines Information Technology

AGA Study Examines Information Technology: "Emerging information technology issues in financial and supply chain management are the subject of a comprehensive study released by the Association of Government Accountants (AGA).

To view the report, visit: www.agacgfm.org/research/downloads/CPResearchNo37.pdf.

www.GovExec.com - :FEATURES: :Power Pencils (12/1/05)

Chief financial officers shed yesterday's bean-counter image to become executive power players.

When Linda Morrison Combs accepted the chief financial officer position at the Environmental Protection Agency in 2001, she strolled into the building on Pennsylvania Avenue with a curious goal: to make hers the most respected CFO operation in government. Not the best, or the greenest on the President's Management Agenda, but the most respected - however that played out.

OMB to guide agencies on financial management LOB

The Office of Management and Budget will furnish guidance by the end of this month or in early January 2006 to help agencies determine how they should select a federal provider of financial-management services, an Office of Management and Budget official said yesterday.

The guidance aims to encourage agencies to participate in the financial management Line of Business initiative. Under the Lines of Business Consolidation initiative, when agencies have to replace existing financial systems they would be required to consider federal and industry financial-management centers of excellence.

OMB has designated four agencies as financial-management centers of excellence: the General Services Administration, the Transportation Department, the Interior Department's National Business Center and the Treasury Department's Bureau of the Public Debt.

The guidance will advise agencies on how to structure a request for proposals to allow competition on a level playing field between private and public offerors.

Agriculture Department gets permanent CFO

Charles Christopherson took the reins as chief financial officer at the Agriculture Department this week, where he will oversee $128 billion in assets and $77 billion in total annual spending.

Deputy CFO Patricia Healy has been acting CFO since Ted McPherson left Agriculture for the Education Department two years ago.

Christopherson's duties involve accounting and reporting responsibilities for program funds totaling more than $90 billion. Among the CFO programs and offices, the National Finance Center processes the payroll for one-fifth of the federal workforce - 550,000 individuals - and operates components of the more than $100 billion Thrift Savings Plan for federal employees, the world's largest 401(k) retirement plan.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Oracle Rolls Out PeopleSoft Enterprise Financial Management 8.9

Oracle has nnounced general availability of Oracle's PeopleSoft Enterprise Financial Management 8.9, delivering on its commitment to PeopleSoft customers to support and enhance the functionality of PeopleSoft Enterprise applications.

SAP, university to study government ROI

The Center for Technology in Government (CTG) and SAP are collaborating on a research project regarding public-sector return on investment (ROI), focused on improving the government's ability to analyze individual information technology projects.

HAWAII: David Cohen Speaks At Finance Officers Meeting

For every grant dollar that we propose to spend, let's ask ourselves what this grant dollar will do to secure our future. When we make necessary investments in health, education and infrastructure, we're building a better future. And let's not forget about capacity building. We need to build capacity in order to manage our grant funds more effectively - capacity in financial management, accounting, grants management, auditing, economics, statistics and other areas. Capacity will not build itself -we're going to have to allocate resources to build capacity. This very conference represents an allocation of resources to build capacity. I know that no one in this room will complain when I suggest that each of your offices needs to have the resources to enable you to do your jobs properly. We need to carry this message to people outside of this room.

Friday, December 02, 2005

IRS accounting system cumbersome despite updates

Once troubled, the IRS's modernization project is now on track and producing results for the agency. But improvements came too late to prevent Congress from slashing almost a third from the modernization budget in fiscal 2005 and keeping the funding level at that relatively low level during fiscal 2006.

Because they lost about $85 million, modernization officials put on hold further updates to IFS and permanently shut down another project, the Custodial Accounting Project, which would have connected IFS with the tax administration database.

In CAP's place, the IRS in March began another project called the Custodial Detail Data Base, which it says will address some audit weaknesses through creation of a ledger for unpaid taxes. CAP's replacement project should link to the Master File during fiscal 2006, and subject to funding, will also link to CADE in fiscal 2007.

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