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Monday, February 27, 2006

Feds cope with the 'greener pastures' syndrome

"Many federal information technology managers jump the fence to see what the private sector has to offer - 401(k) accounts, profit sharing, bonuses, expense accounts, nice offices with good views - and then head back to government."

FederalNewsRadio - Ask the CFO - Sam Mok (DOL)

On January 25, 2002, Samuel Tinsing Mok was confirmed by the Senate to be the Chief Financial Officer of the U.S. Department of Labor. He was the first career Chief Financial Officer and Comptroller of the U.S. Department of the Treasury, appointed by former Treasury Secretary James Baker. While there, he implemented many management control programs to enhance financial reporting and control.

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Five companies land agreement to support LOB initiatives

"The General Services Administration awarded a blanket purchase agreement to five vendors to support the Office of Management and Budget's Lines of Business consolidation initiatives.

This is a new contract awarded through GSA's Federal Supply Service IT schedule with a two-year base and three one-year options. GSA acts as the procurement arm of OMB and helps with the administrative aspects of the LOB projects.

OMB and GSA are paying for the work partly through the E-Government Fund, for which Congress allocated $3 million in 2006. GSA administers the fund for OMB. Sindelar said OMB sent a letter to Congress identifying how the money will be used.

GSA will compete task orders among Booz Allen Hamilton of McLean, Va.; Grant Thorton LLP of Chicago; Performance Management Consulting Inc. of Alexandria, Va.; SiloSmashers Inc. of Vienna, Va.; and Touchstone/SRA of Washington to provide support for the three new Lines of Businesses (budget formulation, geospatial and IT infrastructure) and six existing lines (financial management, human resources, grants management, case management, federal health architecture and IT security). "

Thursday, February 23, 2006

ERP's learning curve

"Agencies taking on enterprise resource management projects often find themselves in over their heads, and they are are beginning to turn to government centers of excellence for help.

Doug Bourgeois, director of the Interior Department's National Business Center, knows the drill. 'Invariably,' he said, 'the question that such agencies ask when they approach us is, 'This is bigger and more complex than we thought it was going to be. Can you take it over for us? Can you manage it? Can you host it for us?' NBC provides ERP services to 'between 20 and 30 agencies,' Bourgeois said, several of which have had troubled ERP projects and asked him for help.

He said that, in several cases, he has had to turn down the appeals. Even though his center runs more than 600 servers, taking over the ERP functions of some agencies could involve adding as many as 200 more.

ERP systems form the back-office sinews of federal agencies.

Properly functioning ERP systems provide agency leaders with accurate, detailed financial data quickly, but faulty systems invite management disarray - and punishment by overseers in the Office of Management and Budget, Congress and other agencies. "

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

IRS walks fine line on modernization cost schedule budget: GAO

"The IRS is trying to balance getting its Business Systems Modernization projects delivered on time and within cost on a lean budget, while meeting additional congressional mandates for performance accountability to gain access to its funds.

Even if the tax agency stays on top of cost and schedules, tighter budgets may mean delaying functionality in some versions later this year, contributing to delays and higher costs, according to the Government Accountability Office.

The IRS needs to use more recent and complete status information on which to base its annual expenditure plan for Business Systems Modernization. The tax agency, however, satisfied the conditions set by Congress to gain access to funds for its modernization program last year and has improved the risk management of the program, GAO said in a new report.

The IRS deployed some of its BSM releases in 2005 within cost and on schedule, including versions of its taxpayer database, the Customer Account Data Engine, the e-Services portal for tax practitioners, and Modernized e-File, an electronic filing system for corporate returns. Others, however, were delayed or incurred more costs, such as the Integrated Financial System initial release. "

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Better Performance Reporting and Analysis - Business Intelligence - CFO.com

"Increasingly, finance and business unit managers are seeking to respond to threats and opportunities more quickly and to reallocate resources more authoritatively and dynamically.

A forward-looking and analytical view - the ability to conduct what-if analyses, for example - goes to the heart of much of what finance and business unit managers need to manage their companies amid increasing competition, regulatory oversight, and higher investor and board expectations. Executives need to be able to report timely, accurate data on historical performance, to be sure."

Agencies play musical chairs with e-Travel vendors

"The Agriculture and Justice departments canceled their eTravel contracts with EDS Corp. Two other agencies - the Office of Personnel Management and the Commodity Futures Trading Commission - have canceled their contracts with CW Government Travel and are instead looking to Northrop Grumman Mission Systems for online travel booking services.
But while implementation problems scuttled EDS' contracts with the Agriculture and Justice departments, CW appears to have been caught up in the shuffle of its customers' financial management changes."

Pentagon Bookkeeping Stops Auditors - 20 Feb 2006

"The Department of Defense (DOD) has failed its audit to the extent that auditors have stopped wasting money trying to audit their books, according to Black Enterprise. Problems with the Pentagon books has allowed the DOD to pay troops, civilian workers, and contractors the wrong amounts; to lose track of equipment, such as planes and tanks; and to document trillions of dollars in transactions improperly, according to Black Enterprise. Gregory D. Kutz, managing director of the General Accounting Office (GAO), told Congress last summer that these accounting problems would cost taxpayers $13 billion in 2005."

Transportation's financial system checks out

"The graveyard of failed enterprise resource planning projects is littered with critical analyses by the Government Accountability Office and agencies' inspectors general.

But what often is overlooked by auditors and headline-hungry congressmen are the successful ERP projects - and there have been quite a few in recent years.

Slowly, agencies are learning from past mistakes. One such success story is the Transportation Department's implementation of the Oracle Federal Financial 11i e-Business suite.

Starting in 1997, DOT began moving from an internally developed legacy system to a commercial application with no customization. A year ago, Trans- portation was named as a center of excellence for the Financial Management Line of Business initiative. "

Friday, February 17, 2006

SBA in the market for commercial apps for procurement grants management

"The Small Business Administration is looking for information on commercial products that could help the agency manage its procurement and grants management activities.

In a recent request for information, SBA said it currently processes 200 contracts, 3,000 purchase orders and 300 grants each year.

The agency is looking for an off-the-shelf product that complies with the government's e-procurement standards and can interface with the FedBizOpps application and database.

The product also must be compliant with Federal Financial Systems Information Office requirements, interface with and enable data exchange between SBA's existing Oracle-based financial management system, and support the modeling, analysis, and implementation of workflow management.

SBA will use the RFI as part of its market research and will determine at a later date whether it will issue a formal solicitation.

Responses are due Feb. 24. "

Panel: Financial accountability critical for interagency service agreements

"The success of the Bush administration's plan to consolidate common agency business processes will depend largely on establishing rules to determine financial responsibility for broken service agreements, a General Services Administration official said Wednesday.

The Office of Management and Budget's lines of business initiative, launched in March 2004, is an effort to eliminate duplicative business processes across agencies by establishing standard service providers. As part of the effort, the OMB-approved governmentwide providers, also known as 'centers of excellence,' compete to supply services in certain areas, such as grants management and cybersecurity, to other agencies.

Last year, agencies began competitively selecting providers for their human resources management and financial management services. Once migration to the new systems is complete, existing legacy agency systems will be shut down, according to OMB. Agencies volunteering to act as service providers would most likely bear the cost of a customer agency wanting out of the agreement, OMB officials have said. "

Thursday, February 16, 2006

FederalNewsRadio - Ask the CFO - Andrew Maner (DHS)

"Andrew Maner was appointed by President George W. Bush in January 2004 as the Chief Financial Officer (CFO) for the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). As the CFO, Mr. Maner is responsible for all budget, finance and accounting, strategic planning and evaluation, GAO liaison, bankcard programs, and financial systems for the Department. He is also responsible for the on-going integration of all those functions within the new Department. DHS is the third largest cabinet agency in government with over 180,000 employees and a budget of nearly $40 billion."

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Financial Management LOB: Can It Deliver on OMB's Promise?

"In tennis, the lob is a defensive shot used to keep a player in a point - rarely do players hit outright winning shots using a lob. In today's government, the LOB has a much different meaning. The Line of Business initiatives are key components of the President's Management Agenda, focused on providing common business functions from a fairly small number of centers of excellence to a broad set of customer agencies.

The objectives are twofold: reduce cost and improve quality and operational performance. Unlike the tennis analogy, the government's LOB initiatives comprise an aggressive strategy to produce outright winners. Let's look at the Financial Management LOB (FMLOB), and examine whether it can deliver on this promise.

Simply stated, the FMLOB strategy calls for consolidating the government's financial services at a fairly small number of qualified agencies and companies. The providers — the centers of excellence or COEs — would market their capabilities, and agencies would select from among them using a competitive selection process.

OMB and the Federal CFO Council's Financial Systems Integration Committee set ambitious goals for FMLOB financial systems:
- Provide timely and accurate data for decision-making.
- Facilitate strong internal controls.
- Reduce costs by providing competitive alternatives for agencies to acquire, develop, implement and run financial systems through shared services.
- Standardize systems, business processes and data elements.
- Provide for seamless data exchange between and among agencies by implementing a common language and structure for financial information and system interfaces. "

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

OMB's next A-123 deadline looms

"Here's a heads-up for agency financial managers: The Office of Management and Budget's next deadline under Circular A-123 is right around the corner.

By the end of March, OMB is expecting agencies to submit a summary of their test plans to prove they have effective internal controls for financial reporting.

OMB is requiring under its revised Circular A-123 that agencies implement internal controls and be able to document them and ensure their effectiveness in a management assurance statement to be submitted by June 30. The management assurance statement, to accompany each agency's fiscal 2006 financial report, will detail major weaknesses and corrective actions to address them. "

OMB: Financial performance a tough puzzle to solve

"Federal agencies continue to earn the lowest marks in their financial performance in spite of calls from the White House and Congress for fiscal belt-tightening and zero tolerance for fraud and fiscal mismanagement.

The latest executive branch management scorecard gives the lowest possible rating - unsatisfactory - to the financial performance of 17 out of 26 federal agencies. Efforts of some agencies to improve financial performance in fact are in 'serious jeopardy,' according to the President's Management Agenda (PMA) rating system.

What’s taking agencies so long to improve?

The Chief Financial Officers Act of 1990 requires agencies to submit to the OMB annual, audited financial statements for each revolving fund, trust fund, office, bureau and activity that performs a substantial commercial function. Agencies also are required to maintain an integrated agency accounting and financial management system that systematically measures performance.

It’s a tall order. Since the passage of the CFO Act, an OMB document says, “agencies have been engaged in a process of catching up to long-established private-sector practices of financial reporting.” Before the CFO Act created accounting guidelines, OMB records show that agencies took more than five months to prepare their end-of-year financial statements. These days, CFOs regularly finish their annual financial statements within 45 days after the fiscal year ends.

Other roadblocks slow improvement. An OMB official tells Government Leader that agencies must show sustained improvement before their progress is recognized. “Repeat material weaknesses keep most agencies at red,” the OMB official said. “They must make their systems comply with federal financial management system standards. For each weakness/deficiency, agencies must submit corrective action plans to OMB and meet scheduled milestones. Slippage in meeting planned actions can result in a progress downgrade under the PMA.”

“Achieving ‘green’ in financial performance isn't something that agencies accomplish overnight or on their own,” the official added. “It requires detailed, multiyear plans and collaboration.”

A November 2005 Government Accountability Office report titled “Driving the Transformation of Federal Financial Management” says federal agencies also lack up-to-date IT auditing systems and accounting software to improve their financial performance reporting. "

Pondering the PMA

"A few days before the White House's fiscal 2007 budget was released, Clay Johnson III, who oversees the President's Management Agenda, suggested that the Bush administration is doing a better job holding managers accountable for their programs.

Johnson is the keeper of the PMA scorecard, started in 2001, for 26 federal agencies. It looks like a traffic light - green is good, yellow means the agency is showing improvement and red means the management practices are unacceptable. At the end of 2005, Johnson said, about 40 percent of the scores were green.

From his perch as deputy director of the Office of Management and Budget, Johnson views the scorecard as a way to bring clarity, candor and transparency to agency operations. 'That, then, makes it possible to hold people accountable,' he said. 'And holding people accountable is then what leads to results.' "

Monday, February 13, 2006

Project Horizon ensures interagency planning

"The events of recent years have demonstrated that we live in a period of accelerating change and unprecedented uncertainty. From the perspective of the federal government, these events shed stark light on the true costs of the decades-long rise of stove-piped organizational structures, outdated decision-making procedures, and strategic planning processes that often are fragmented even across agencies with clearly linked strategic goals. In many ways, these same strategic planning processes are still focused on 'fighting the last war' rather than preparing for the unforeseen challenges ahead.

From the chief financial officer's perspective, these developments make it clear that effective financial management increasingly requires foresight, agility, and the ability to plan proactively and effectively across agency boundaries. Furthermore, in order to capture the true benefits of budget-performance integration, the government requires an increasingly unified view of its challenges and opportunities, and the tools available across the government to meet them.

Project Horizon brings together senior executives from global affairs agencies and the National Security Council to conduct long-term, interagency strategic planning.

Project Horizon is jointly funded and governed by these participating organizations: the Agriculture, Commerce, Defense, Energy, Health and Human Services, Homeland Security, Labor, State, and Treasury departments, and the Environmental Protection Agency, Office of the Director of National Intelligence, Millennium Challenge Corp., National Defense University and Agency for International Development. The National Security Council is also an active participant. "

DHS Budget Sees Slight Increase for FY 2007

"President George W. Bush's FY 2007 budget request for the Department of Homeland (DHS) Security represents $42.7 billion in funding, an increase of 6 percent over the previous year.

Included in the request is:
An increase of $12.6 million for the Office of the Chief Financial Officer to increase staff resources to comply with Public Law 108-330, the Department of Homeland Security Financial Accountability Act; analyze opportunities for further functional consolidation of segments of departmental financial management; support the department's plan to achieve an unqualified audit opinion with no material weaknesses; and produce financial data that is timely, reliable and useful for decision-makers in their mission to properly allocate resources to protect the nation. "

Agencies gear up for deadlines on internal controls

"Agencies are expected by March 31 to submit to the Office of Management and Budget a summary of their test plans to prove they have effective internal controls for financial reporting.

OMB is requiring under its revised Circular A-123 that agencies implement internal controls, and be able to document them and ensure their effectiveness in a management assurance statement to be submitted by June 30. The management assurance statement, to accompany each agency's fiscal 2006 financial report, will detail major weaknesses and corrective actions to address them.

The goal is to produce accurate and timely financial information for day-to-day use in making decisions, said OMB controller Linda Combs. Internal controls will foster transparent reporting and accountability, which should translate into efficiencies and savings. The focus on internal controls, accountability and reducing risk has already reaped benefits, she said. "

Faulty Pentagon bookkeeping impacts troops on the ground

"A labyrinth of arcane and incompatible accounting systems has in recent years led the department to pay the wrong amounts to troops, civilian workers and contractors; to lose track of its equipment, even hard-to-misplace planes and tanks; and to improperly document trillions of dollars in transactions that leave tax dollars vulnerable to abuse, according to government reports.

A long-elusive 'clean audit' sought by the Department of Defense - for years pegged for 2007 - is nowhere on the horizon. The agency's books are such a mess that its accountants have stopped wasting money trying to audit them.

'We don't know how badly managed it is,' said Winslow T. Wheeler, director of a military reform project at the Center for Defense Information. 'It's not that DOD flunks audits, it's that DOD's books cannot be audited. DOD aspires for the position where it flunks an audit. If this were a public company, it would have gone belly up before World War II.'"

IQ Matters: Senior Finance and IT Executives Seek To Boost Information Quality

"Among the primary drivers of poor IQ, more than 80 percent of survey respondents cited disparate, non-integrated IT systems and the variability of business processes as a problem. "

Thursday, February 09, 2006

FederalNewsRadio - Ask the CFO - Thomas Cooley (NSF)

"National Science Foundation Thomas Cooley, CFO and Director of the Office of Budget, Finance and Award Management

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FederalNewsRadio - Ask the CFO - Phyllis Scheinberg (DOT)

"The Vision of the Assistant Secretary for Budget and Programs, and CFO:
Is to provide leadership and advice to the Secretary in the development, implementation, and administration of the Department's resources. The office is committed to continually improving the financial management of DOT's programs and operations.

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Report: Agencies making little progress in tracking real property

"Two years after President Bush issued an executive order on reforming management of real property, federal agencies have made little progress in accounting for their holdings or ensuring they are aligned with needs and missions, according to congressional auditors.

In testimony prepared for a hearing held Monday (GAO-06-248T), Mark L. Goldstein, director of physical infrastructure issues at the Government Accountability Office, said that real property management continues to be a 'high-risk area' for agencies.

Another obstacle to eliminating unused buildings is that agencies typically see few incentives to address the problem, said Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., chairman of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Subcommittee on Federal Financial Management, Government Information, and International Security, on Monday.

"The statutory hoops an agency must jump through in order to get rid of property make it almost impossible to dump a property," Coburn said. An agency can only sell a building after offering it at below market rates to non-profit groups and state and local governments, he said, and in most cases the proceeds of such a sale must be turned over to the Treasury Department. "

Accenture to install new Air Force financial system

"Accenture Ltd. has been selected by the Air Force to install the service's Defense Enterprise Accounting and Management System (DEAMS).

Under a $79.5 million fixed-price task order contract, Accenture of Hamilton, Bermuda, will implement Oracle Corp.'s E-Business Suite software at Scott Air Force Base by March 2007 and deploy the system across all of the service by 2010.

DEAMS is a co-production of the Air Force, Transportation Command, and Defense Finance and Accounting Service and will provide general ledger and other financial reporting functions.

DOD took the first step in this process in July, buying Oracle Corp.'s Joint Financial Improvement software for $22.7 million.

Under the contract, Accenture will ensure that the configuration, deployment and training of DEAMS meets Air Force, USTRANSCOM and DFAS requirements, officials said. "

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Bush budget seeks to cut NASA financial management funding

"The Bush administration wants to cut the budget for NASA's troubled financial management system by 30.8 percent.

The fiscal 2007 budget requests $108.2 million for the Integrated Enterprise Management Program (IEMP), formerly known as the Integrated Financial Management Program, down $48.1 million from last year's request of $156.3 million.

In October, Government Accountability Office auditors warned that NASA risks inaccurately reporting the cost of its most expensive space missions because the agency has struggled for more than a decade to build a modern financial management system. "

OMB touts progress at reducing improper payments

"Agencies eliminated almost $8 billion in mistaken payments through federal programs during fiscal 2005, carving 17 percent from the previous year's error levels and surpassing a $5 billion strategic goal, the Office of Management and Budget reported last week.

"I applaud the administration for its work to eliminate improper payments," said Rep. Todd Platts, R-Pa., chairman of the House Government Reform Subcommittee on Government Management, Finance and Accountability. "We are starting to see results."

Platts emphasized the role that technology is playing in improving agencies' internal controls, noting that Agriculture's
Food Stamp program has "the lowest error rate in its history, largely because it has employed electronic benefit transfer." Data-matching has helped both HUD and the Labor Department cut down on errors, he said.

The administration's management score card includes a category for eliminating improper payments that encompasses the 15 agencies reporting in fiscal 2005. Four of those agencies -- HUD, the Labor and Veterans Affairs departments and the National Science Foundation -- have achieved "green" status, the highest mark possible on the traffic-light-style rating system. "

Pentagon's business transformation effort moves forward

"Goals for Business Transformation Agency described in the budget proposal include the development of departmentwide business processes aligned with those in the private sector.

The agency reports to the Defense Business Systems Management Committee and is under the authority of Defense Undersecretary for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics Kenneth Krieg, according to the memo and budget documents.

Paul Brinkley, Defense deputy undersecretary for business transformation, and Thomas Modly, Defense deputy undersecretary for financial management, are serving as BTA's co-directors and are handling day-to-day management until a permanent director is found, the memo said.

Modly, speaking at the Association of Government Accountants' National Leadership Conference Friday, said that the agency is making progress at reforming the Defense's business processes and will help achieve a clean financial audit by reducing the amount of time needed to process transactions.

The agency wants to be a 'petri dish' where a 'virus of change' can be grown and talent can be recruited with the goal of sending it out into the department, Modly said. "

Civilian agencies see small increases in fiscal '07 IT budget

"The IT budgets for civilian agencies account for almost one-half, or $33.8 billion, of the $64.3 billion for all federal IT. Excluding the Homeland Security Department, civilian IT budgets are less than $30 billion.

The administration seeks a $40 million increase, to $298 million, for HUD. Two projects account for most of the increase. HUD plans to implement a financial management system under the Financial Management Line of Business and integrate its legacy systems supporting single-family home mortgages.

Among other agencies, the Commerce Department received a 7 percent boost, with systems for the 2010 Census taking most of the increase along with the department’s integrated financial management system.

The Health and Human Services Department would receive a 4.7 percent increase, with increases in its financial management and integrated procurement systems.

Transportation’s IT budget edged up 1.1 percent on increases in its departmentwide procurement consolidation under the Prism contract management system."

Monday, February 06, 2006

Administration proposes three new Lines of Business for 2007

"Under President Bush's fiscal 2007 budget request submitted to Congress today, agencies would receive an IT budget of $64.2 billion - a 3 percent increase over fiscal 2006.

In the budget, the administration said it will launch three new Lines of Business consolidation initiatives for IT infrastructure, budget formulation and geospatial investments.

The Budgeting LOB task force will identify opportunities for common automated tools to enhance agency and central processes, including promoting integration and standardization of information exchange, institutionalize budget and performance integration to align programs with their outcomes, and provide agencies with enhanced capabilities to analyze budget performance and financial information.

The Office of Management and Budget, as expected, named three Grants LOB Centers of Excellence—the Education and Health and Human Services departments, and the National Science Foundation. OMB expects the Grants COEs to help save more than $2.4 billion between 2008 and 2015. "

For fiscal 2007, Bush seeks $64B for IT

"The Bush administration submitted a fiscal 2007 budget proposal this morning that seeks about $64 billion for information technology in fiscal 2007, a 3 percent increase in overall federal government IT spending.

Furthermore, the administration wants to implement three new lines of business to help control the budget.

The new lines of business are:

IT infrastructure – to refine opportunities for IT infrastructure consolidation and optimization.

Geospacial – to optimize and consolidate federal geospatial-related investments to reduce the cost of government.

Budgeting – to build toward a budget of the future, employing standards and technologies for electronic information exchange to link budget, execution, performance and financial information throughout all phases of the annual budget cycle.

The budgeting line of business will look for common solutions and tools to enhance agency and central budget processes. It will work to standardize information from budget formulation, execution, financial management and performance measurement systems. It also will align programs and their outcomes with budget levels and actual costs to help the government review its budget performance."

OMB launches Web site that lists federal program ratings

"The Office of Management and Budget today launched ExpectMore.gov, a Web site that provides clear and frank assessments of federal programs.

'ExpectMore.gov honestly shows how government programs perform and whether taxpayers are getting their money's worth,' said OMB Deputy Director for Management Clay Johnson, in a press release.

The Web site shows where programs are succeeding, and where they are failing, he said.

ExpectMore.gov allows the public to review the performance of every federal program. The site includes assessments of about 800 programs, accounting for 80 percent of the federal budget. The rest will be completed within a year."

Bush's submits fiscal 2007 IT budget

"Under President Bush's fiscal 2007 budget request submitted to Congress today, agencies would receive an IT budget of $64.2 billion- a 3 percent increase over fiscal 2006.

While the 2006 request was more than $65 billion, the increase for next year would be based on the total dollars Congress enacted for IT in 2006- $62.5 billion, according to budget documents.

The IT budget increase is part of Bush's overall $2.7 trillion proposal that holds discretionary spending to $870.7 billion, which is a 3.2 percent increase over 2006.

In the budget, the administration said it will launch three new Lines of Business Consolidation initiatives for IT infrastructure, budget formulation and geospatial investments.

The Office of Management and Budget, as expected, named three Grants LOB Centers of Excellence - the departments of Education and Health and Human Services, and the National Science Foundation. OMB expects the Grants COEs to help save more than $2.4 billion between 2008 and 2015. "

DHS | Department of Homeland Security | Fact Sheet: U.S. Department of Homeland Security Announces Six Percent Increase In Fiscal Year 2007 Budget Request

"President Bush’s fiscal year 2007 budget request for the Department of Homeland (DHS) Security represents $42.7 billion in funding, an increase of 6 percent over the previous year. The request reflects recent organizational reforms and program changes to ensure that the department’s policies, operations, and structures remain mission-focused and well-aligned to meet evolving threats.

The proposed budget request supports Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff’s agenda for a department that is organized around mission, eliminates duplication, and disciplined in risk management. Central to the department’s budget are five themes: increasing overall preparedness, and strengthening the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA); strengthening border security and reforming immigration; enhancing transportation security through more efficient and secure system controls; improving information sharing; and strengthening the department’s organization in order to maximize performance.

[Included was:] An increase of $12.6 million for the Office of the Chief Financial Officer to increase staff resources to comply with Public Law 108-330, the Department of Homeland Security Financial Accountability Act; analyze opportunities for further functional consolidation of segments of departmental financial management; support the department�s plan to achieve an unqualified audit opinion with no material weaknesses; and produce financial data that is timely, reliable, and useful for decision-makers in their mission to properly allocate resources to protect the nation. "

OMB to name grants service providers

"The mostly dormant Grants Line of Business initiative will come alive this year when the Office of Management and Budget gives three agencies the authority to become cross-agency shared-services providers.

In the fiscal 2007 budget released today, the administration will name the Education Department, the Health and Human Services Department's Administration for Children and Families, and the National Science Foundation as grants consortia centers of excellence, according to industry and government sources.

Sources also said OMB expects to add up to three more grants management shared-services providers over the next year or so.

OMB will sort the consortia shared-service providers according to business processes. Agencies will move to the SSPs based on how they award grants, sources said.

Jerry Fralick, the Office of Justice Programs CIO and the chairman of the Grants Executive Board, which oversees Grants.gov, the Grants LOB and the ties into the grants policy group, said seven agencies responded to OMB’s request for a declaration of intent to become shared-services providers.

Fralick added that Justice could become another SSP based on their success with DHS."

Oracle completes Siebel buy

"Oracle Corp. completed its acquisition of Siebel Systems Inc., the company announced today.

Purchasing Siebel should expand the Redwood Shores, Calif., company's ability to provide enterprise resource planning solutions, industry experts said.

Siebel provides customer relationship management solutions for customers such as the Wisconsin Department of Employee Trust Funds, Union Pacific Railroad and The Bank of New York Company Inc. "

Friday, February 03, 2006

PMA fuels improved financial management: OMB

Agencies are improving their financial management so that they have timely and accurate information available to make decisions about program management.

Agencies also have speeded up completion of financial statements, accomplished more clean audits and strengthened internal controls, the Office of Management and Budget said in a new report released yesterday that coincided with the latest results of the President’s Management Agenda.

“An agency’s ability to produce timely and accurate information is rooted in the quality of its internal processes and internal controls. The PMA has changed the paradigm for financial reporting and ushered in a new level of financial accountability,” said Linda Combs, OMB Controller and director of the Office of Federal Financial Management.

Every major agency completed its year-end financial statement in the accelerated time frame by Nov. 15. Agencies now have 45 days from the end of the fiscal year in which to report. Before the Bush administration stepped up reporting requirements, agencies took up to five months to complete financial statements.

Over the next five years, Combs envisions agencies increasingly achieving first-class financial management practices, including:
  • Clean audits for all agencies’ financial statements
  • First-ever clean audit for the governmentwide financial statement
  • Routine use of timely and accurate financial data in daily decisions and operations and
  • Increased number of dependable and sound financial systems.

AGA National Leadership Conference

Managing Government Performance - Managing for Results

AGA’s Fourth Annual National Leadership Conference (NLC) will be held February 2 – 3, 2006, at the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center, located at 1300 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW in Washington, D.C.

Agencies show modest gains on management score card

"Federal agencies saw modest improvements on the latest Bush administration quarterly management score card, with the biggest gains evident in e-government initiatives.

Eight of 26 agencies improved their e-government grades on the traffic-light-style President's Management Agenda score card for the first-quarter of fiscal 2006, which ended Dec. 31, 2005. Only the Transportation Department was downgraded in that area. The Office of Management and Budget published the scores Thursday.

Agencies continued to show relatively poor results in financial performance, however.

Two agencies suffered dramatic drops in that area -- the General Services Administration and Energy Department moved from green to red lights, indicating "unsatisfactory" performances. The Smithsonian Institution jumped in the other direction, moving from red to green, signaling "success." The Office of Personnel Management saw a more modest change, improving to yellow, for 'mixed results.'

Overall, the financial performance category on the score card remained bathed in red as 24 agencies continued to struggle with rules that require annual audits. While 19 of those agencies merited clean audits for the past year, many were held back on the score card by 'material weaknesses.' In the most recent ratings, 17 agencies obtained red scores in financial management, while only eight earned a green mark."

Federal program performance up slightly, OMB reports

"Nearly three fourths of federal programs evaluated in time for the release of President Bush's fiscal 2007 budget request have been found to be at least somewhat effective, Office of Management and Budget officials said Thursday.

OMB now has evaluated 80 percent of the programs it set out to assess four years ago. The remaining 20 percent will be rated in time for the release of the fiscal 2008 budget request. "

Thursday, February 02, 2006

White House: Wasteful Overpayments Cut

"WASHINGTON (AP) - The White House budget office is giving the government higher marks for reducing improper benefit payments for programs such as Medicare, food stamps and unemployment insurance, cutting such overpayments by $7.8 billion from 2004 levels.

The OMB report highlights the less-publicized "management" side of the budget office's portfolio. President Bush has an ongoing management agenda that grades Cabinet departments on their performances in areas such as financial practices, implementing electronic government plans and competitive sourcing.

'Federal employees are improving the way their agencies work,' said OMB Deputy Director for Management Clay Johnson. 'They are clearly defining what their management practices should be, and the benefits that should result from these new practices, and then being held accountable for achieving them. With clarity and transparency, you can get accountability; and with accountability, you get results.'"