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Friday, June 30, 2006

Platts: Financial management business line needs clear rules

"Office of Management and Budget officials left Capitol Hill June 28 with policy-makers asking more questions about the financial management line of business initiative.
Departments planning a major change in their financial management systems must consider using a shared service center to do the operations or becoming one. The problem is designating such centers.

Rep. Todd Platts (R-Pa.), chairman of the House Government Reform Committee's Government Management, Finance and Accountability Subcommittee, asked what constitutes a shared service center and whether OMB needs to designate an agency or private company as such.

'What we need is a clear understanding of the process of how you become an approved shared service center,' he said. The new business line has too many gray areas.

Under the President's Management Agenda, OMB intends for financial management to be concentrated in these centers, where one service provider handles back-office functions for several agencies to save money.

Agencies are modernizing their financial management systems, and although they should be moving the operations to shared service centers to do the work, they aren't."

Questions persist on finance LOB guidance

"Even after a third hearing this year on the topic, Rep. Todd Platts (R-Pa.) still has several questions about the Office of Management and Budget's Financial Management Line of Business consolidation initiative.

Platts, chairman of the House Government Reform Subcommittee on Government Management, Finance and Accountability, said OMB's draft migration memorandum issued in May raised as many questions as it answered and urged the administration to clarify its policies before more agencies migrate to shared-services providers or the private sector.

'It seems like we've come back to where we were in March,' Platts said yesterday in questioning OMB controller Linda Combs and General Services Administration deputy associate administrator Mary Mitchell. 'We're doing migrations, and we haven't finalized the terms.'

In particular, Platts focused on the Labor Department's decision in March to give Mythics Inc. of Virginia Beach, Va., a five-year, $5.3 million contract to provide financial-management hosting, operation and maintenance services.

This, despite the fact that OMB has only issued draft guidelines for how an agency should migrate its financial management services to either a federal shared-services provider or the private sector.

'They may have put the cart before the horse,' subcommittee staff director Mike Hettinger said after the hearing.

Platts held the hearing after OMB released its draft migration guidance in May. The guidance stated that, with limited exceptions, an agency can only rely on its in-house FM system if officials can demonstrate that it represents the best value and lowest risk.

The draft also requires agencies to release a single request for proposals for both public and private shared-services providers to respond to, publish it on fedbizopps.gov and follow the Federal Acquisition Regulations as much as possible. If the task is performed by 10 or more agency employees, the competitions must comply with OMB Circular A-76, which directs agencies to use commercial products and services wherever possible.

But Platts said the guidance changed considerably from earlier discussions and a previous hearing on the topic in March, and he expressed concern that agencies and vendors are unsure just how the process works. "

Thursday, June 29, 2006

FederalNewsRadio - Ask the CFO - John Potts (NWS)

"National Weather Service Mission Statement:

The National Weather Service (NWS) provides weather, hydrologic, and climate forecasts and warnings for the United States, its territories, adjacent waters and ocean areas, for the protection of life and property and the enhancement of the national economy. NWS data and products form a national information database and infrastructure which can be used by other governmental agencies, the private sector, the public, and the global community.

Listen with Windows Media Player"

FederalNewsRadio - Ask the CFO - James Laychak (Pentagon Mem. Fund)

"About the Pentagon Memorial Fund:

On September 11, 2001, terrorists crashed Flight 77 into the Pentagon, killing the 59 passengers on board the aircraft and 125 military and civilian personnel who were working inside the Pentagon. Shortly after the attack, the United States Congress authorized the Secretary of Defense to create a permanent memorial on the grounds of the Pentagon.

Listen with Windows Media Player"

OMB looks for lines of business payoff

"The Office of Management and Budget has begun a governmentwide analysis of how the three lines of business proposed as part of the fiscal 2007 budget could help the government cut costs and improve services.

An interagency task force for each of the new lines of business -- information technology infrastructure, geospatial operations and budgeting process -- will analyze the current state of systems and identify common solutions and target architectures. The task force will also develop a business case to be submitted for fiscal 2008 budget review, according to OMB.

After studying industry benchmarks and agencies' fiscal 2007 IT budget submissions, OMB officials say opportunities for savings exist. For example, by taking a more coordinated approach to spending on IT infrastructure, the government could save between 16 percent and 27 percent annually on its IT infrastructure budget over 10 years, which would add up to between $18 billion and $29 billion, officials say.

These three new lines of business will join six existing lines: financial management, human resources, grants management, case management, federal health architecture and IT security."

Federal Budget Should Include Long-Term Obligations from Entitlement Programs

"The federal government spent $2.5 trillion in 2005: about 20 percent of gross domestic product (GDP) and 33 percent more than it spent in 2001. However, the bigger concern is that Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid spending will explode when the baby boomers retire, doubling the total federal budget to nearly 50 percent of GDP by 2050.

Congress has no plan to pay for these promises, and the budget rules actually hide the total cost from Congress and the voters. In 2005, unfunded Social Security and Medicare obligations totaled $36 trillion. When public debt and other traditional federal liabilities are included, the total U.S. federal debt is over $46 trillion--the equivalent of a $375,000 home mortgage for every full-time worker in America, but without the house. According to the U.S. Comptroller General, this figure was only $165,000 in 2000. Yet Congress, rather than confront this growth, has chosen to compound it with the Medicare drug benefit."

GSA - GSA's Role in Implementing FMLoB Government-Wide

"STATEMENT OF MARY MITCHELL DEPUTY ASSOCIATE ADMINISTRATOR OFFICE OF TECHNOLOGY, STRATEGY AND THE FINANCIAL SYSTEMS INTEGRATION OFFICE (FSIO) EXECUTIVE OFFICE OF GOVERNMENTWIDE POLICY U.S. GENERAL SERVICES ADMINISTRATION BEFORE THE COMMITTEE ON GOVERNMENT REFORM SUBCOMMITTEE ON GOVERNMENT MANAGEMENT, FINANCE, AND ACCOUNTABILITY U.S. HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
WEDNESDAY, JUNE 28, 2006

The FSIO office has three major areas of responsibilities:

1. - Requirements Development and Testing for Federal Financial Systems - Our office develops and prioritizes new Federal financial system requirements and develops and conducts testing and certification of Federal financial management systems, and works with both agencies and vendors on the adoption of these requirements.

2. - Special Projects - FMLoB Initiative - FSIO provides support to the Federal financial community by taking on special priority projects as determined by the OMB Controller and the CFO Council. The current special project is the FMLoB project which is extremely significant and central to the core mission of the office. In this role, my office plans and manages the work activities and FMLoB work teams, which are comprised of agency representatives supported by contractors. We use subject matter experts from Federal agencies, focused on narrowly-scoped tasks established to develop, review, and upgrade tools for agencies to implement the FMLoB initiative. Examples of these efforts include the Migration Planning Guidance, Performance Measures, Business Process Standards and Common Government Accounting Code.

3. - Outreach - Conducting outreach through an annual financial management conference and other related activities aimed at improving the core competencies of the Federal financial community. "

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

INPUT to Testify Before Congress on Financial Management Line of Business: Financial News - Yahoo! Finance

"INPUT, the authority on government business, has been invited to testify before the House Government Reform Subcommittee on Government Management, Finance, and Accountability, at an oversight hearing on the Office of Management and Budget's (OMB) Financial Management Line of Business initiative (FMLoB). James Krouse, acting director, public sector market analysis at INPUT, will address the subcommittee on the issue of competitive sourcing as it pertains to the FMLoB.

"Since the introduction of the LoBs and the creation of the centers of excellence, the changing roles of vendors acting as either competitors or as partners with federal agencies has been difficult to comprehend," stated Krouse. "To date, we have seen minimal guidance from OMB as to how competitive sourcing will work in this changed environment. Hopefully congressional involvement will lead to some clarity and possibly the creation of more realistic guidelines and processes."

In light of OMB's recently released Draft Migration Planning Guidance for the FMLoB, the subcommittee asked Krouse to offer his views on the draft, with specific regard to the use of OMB Circular A-76 as part of the initiative, the use of OMB's Exhibit 300 as a mechanism for conducting analysis, and the general clarity of the draft guidance."

FCW.com - Interior's shared-services center takes on double duty

"The Interior Department's National Business Center (NBC) will soon undertake financial management of and human resources support for the Federal Retirement Thrift Investment Board -- a rare responsibility given to one federal shared-services center.

In the two years since the Office of Management and Budget announced an initiative to consolidate agencies' financial management systems, there has been little indication of progress. Congress recently questioned the risks involved in continuing the project and whether completion is feasible.

As called for in the President's Management Agenda, the government intends for many financial management operations to be concentrated in shared-services centers, where one service provider handles back-office functions for several agencies to save money. OMB wants any department planning an update to its financial management system to consider using one of the shared-service providers or a commercial one, instead of conducting operations internally.

The board will migrate to NBC's Oracle financial accounting system, a shared enterprise resource planning application. NBC will process collections, manage vendor and travel voucher payments, and generate the Standard Form-224 Treasury statement of transactions for the board.

NBC offers agencies a choice of several financial management ERP applications, including Oracle Federal Financials, CGI Momentum and soon SAP's financial system.

Friday, June 16, 2006

Interior's NBC doubles shared services for federal savings board

"The Interior Department's National Business Center will provide shared services under both the Financial Management and Human Resources lines of business to the Federal Retirement Thrift Investment Board starting next month.

The investment board will use NBC's Oracle financial accounting system, and NBC also will process collections, provide vendor and travel voucher payment processing, and generate certain Treasury statements of transactions, NBC said.

The investment board renewed its agreement with NBC for human resources operations support services. It also will move to NBC's federal personnel payroll system and its Web-based time and attendance system, Quicktime. Interagency agreements are in effect for one year and must be renewed annually, an NBC spokesman said. "

Thursday, June 15, 2006

FCW.com - UPDATED: Grams to leave IRS CIO post for NIST

"W. Todd Grams is leaving his chief information officer post at the Internal Revenue Service to be chief financial officer at the National Institute of Standards and Technology, the IRS announced today.

An IRS spokesman said officials have not determined who will fill the CIO position. Grams' last day is to be determined.

'The CFO position at NIST is a perfect match at this point in my life - both professionally and personally,' Grams said in a statement.

Grams said he will take a leading role regarding NIST's business systems, budgets, finances, procurements and grants. He will work with NIST Director Bill Jeffrey as the agency supports the President's American Competitiveness Initiative.

Grams joined the IRS in February 2001 as chief financial officer after more than two decades of work at the Department of Veterans Affairs and the Office of Management and Budget. Under his leadership, the IRS gained its first clean financial opinion from the Government Accountability Office. In June 2003, Grams was selected for the CIO position, which oversees a staff of about 7,000 people and a $1.8 billion budget."

Google unveils federal search engine

"Google Inc. of Mountain View, Calif., has launched a search site devoted to finding government material on the Web.

Although Google U.S. Government Search offers an almost identical service to the General Services Administration's FirstGov, Google's site will offer more personalization features, said Kevin Gough, product manager for the new offering.

Gough said Google's site was designed for both government employees as well as citizens interested in government material. Using the company's own index of Web sites, the site will return results from .gov and .mil federal sites, state and local Web sites, selected .org and .edu sites, and government sites under the .com and .net domains, such as the Postal Service's site.

Individuals can personalize their pages to display headlines from feeds that use the Real Simple Syndication, or RSS, format. The site offers a list of agency feeds, such as those from the White House, as well as feeds from commercial news sites that cover government. Users can also add their own feeds.

GSA launched the latest version of FirstGov in January. That system uses the public search engine from Microsoft Corp. along with clustering software from Vivisimo Inc. of Pittsburgh. In addition to a basic listing of search results, FirstGov also groups findings by agency, source and a set of topic headings that are generated by the system on the fly.

Google's service will not offer this sort of clustering capability, Gough admitted. Nor can users filter results so that they include only federal sites. They can, however, limit the results to specific Web sites, such as usda.gov, which was not possible using Google's previous government site, Google Uncle Sam. That site should be closed within a few weeks and users will be automatically redirected to the new site, Gough said.

Google’s service will also not offer a great deal of insight into the material locked into the sort of publicly available databases that must be queried with strict syntaxes, the kind of databases well covered by Science.Gov. Gough did note, however, that the company is encouraging managers of such databases to use Google’s tools for indexing such sites, so that they can be accessible through Google.

Publisher's Note: The news feed URL for the FedCFO.com website is http://fedcfo.blogspot.com/atom.xml "

FederalNewsRadio - Ask the CFO - Jennifer Main (SBA)

"BIOGRAPHY: Jennifer Main (Jenni) was named Chief Financial Officer (CFO) in October 2005, after serving as the Deputy Chief Financial Officer for three years. Prior to joining SBA, she was a Senior Manager with KPMG Consulting's banking practice where she worked with private and public sector financial institutions. She is also a successful entrepreneur, having started a small business in 1998 that provided financial analysis to lenders nationwide. The company was sold to a venture capital firm in 2000. Jenni served as a Budget Analyst at the U.S. Office of Management and Budget from 1991 to 1996 and developed a specialty in Federal credit programs. She has a B.A. from Cornell University and a Master's in Public Policy from the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University and was a Presidential Management Intern. She is a member of the Risk Management Association and resides in Chevy Chase, Maryland with her husband and two children. "

Congress hears debate on PART's value

"Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) said June 13 that the Office of Management and Budget's Program Assessment Rating Tool is the government's most comprehensive review of federal programs available, partially because Congress does not take time to appraise the programs.

'We're lazy,' Coburn said at his subcommittee's annual hearing on PART. Coburn is chairman of a Senate subcommittee that oversees federal financial management and government information. This was his 37th hearing on this topic.

Clay Johnson, deputy director for management at OMB, expressed concern that Congress does not care about assessing programs. He said PART presents Congress with an opportunity to challenge programs and clearly define standards for success. Moreover, Congress could hold agencies accountable for meeting that success.

'It's management 101; it's accountability 101,' Johnson told the subcommittee.

PART helps to determine if a program works effectively. It finds out if a program has a clear purpose and whether it sets and meets goals. The assessment tool evaluates a program's strengths and weaknesses so agencies can then improve the programs. PART is one of several ways the president decides to request more or less funding for a program.

Nevertheless, the public and private sectors criticized the Bush administration's means of analyzing federal programs."

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Industry Can Help Leapfrog The DoD to Standard Business Operations

"The U.S. Department of Defense has two primary mission objectives: to defend the United States and its people; and to accelerate a bold transformation of the U. S. Military to counter 21st century threats. The DoD's transformation is intended to be high-impact and far-reaching into every facet of doctrine, mission and support capability. Toward these objectives, the transformation also extends across all current business operations within and beyond the department to deal with all processes and business functions throughout the military departments and defense agencies from the lowest organizational level through the highest.

The new DoD Business Transformation Agency (BTA) is responsible for enterprise-wide transformation of business operations into a more streamlined, integrated business environment that is information-driven, standards-based, interoperable, cost-effective, and concurrently responsive to war fighter needs and management decision making. This highly efficient 'to-be' environment will be driven by standard information and business rules, enabled through commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) and best practices. Utilizing a comprehensive business enterprise architecture (BEA) as a road map, hundreds of DoD legacy financial and feeder systems are being replaced with emerging new, modern systems that support commonality, true return on investment for the Department, common data and business processes. Moreover, BTA oversight and governance process will foster commitment, collaboration, equity and leverage of critical resources across the services. This will facilitate true jointness across not only war fighting commands, but also day-to-day business operations. Ultimately, this aggressive and highly complex undertaking will enable better d"

Monday, June 12, 2006

Human resources consolidation project advances

"Agencies and contractors vying to be selected as human resources providers in projects to consolidate systems across government likely will compete following the same rules as those governing the Bush administration's competitive sourcing initiative, an Office of Personnel Management official said Friday.

OPM also announced this week that five agencies have committed four months ahead of schedule to migrate their human resources systems to shared service centers. The Housing and Urban Development Department committed to moving to the Treasury Department's system, the Coast Guard and the Transportation Security Administration will move to the Agriculture Department's National Finance Center, and the Transportation Department and Federal Aviation Administration are shifting to the Interior Department's National Business Center.

The human resources project is part of the Office of Management and Budget-led lines of business initiative, aimed at consolidating and centralizing federal information technology systems in a variety of areas. Service providers, which can offer more than just IT services for human resources, are intended to host several agencies, with the goal of saving money through enhanced efficiency. "

Friday, June 09, 2006

Reeling In Business

"Entries in the Forest Service's financial management system can be so inaccurate that in 2002, the agency had to adjust its record for the value of its real property assets by $1 billion. At the time, financial management at the Forest Service was on the Government Accountability Office's high-risk list, and the agency never had received a clean audit opinion. It was struggling to keep straight its various financial systems, which track data such as payments from loggers for timber harvested on national land, fees from ski resorts operating on that land and costs charged to other agencies for Forest Service assistance during emergencies.

Jesse King, the Forest Service's chief financial officer, arrived at the height of that mess in 2001. Part of the problem, he observed at the time, was the Forest Service had 153 financial operating units. Preparing these combined financial statements in a timely fashion required herculean efforts, he says. King came from commercial banking, where consolidation of administrative functions as a means of cost savings was de rigueur. He brought those 153 units to a center in Albuquerque, N.M., in February 2005, which will save $36 million in operating costs annually after recovering the initial investment costs, he says. That's the equivalent of about 700 more park rangers. The Forest Service received its first clean audit opinion for fiscal 2002, helping the Agriculture Department get its first as well. (The Forest Service is Agriculture's largest agency.)

But from the perspective of the Office of Management and Budget, King's ap-proach is not centralized enough. OMB's financial management arm has instituted a use-it-or-lose-it approach to federal accounting, telling agencies late last year that they must either move their financial systems to a designated public or private center for financial management or become one themselves. Linda Combs, OMB's controller, recently emphasized timing during an interview: "We're encouraging them to look at this when it makes good sense to look at a new financial system or [when] upgrading their financial systems."

According to OMB documents, 17 of the 24 largest agencies still host their own financial management systems. Two agencies, the Labor Department and Small Business Administration, rely on a commercial center for hosting, and four agencies use federal centers. Within the next decade, OMB expects most agencies to move their financial management systems to outside providers."

Financial Management: Elevating CFOs: Count the ways

"Federal CFOs and their colleagues from Congress, the executive branch and private industry are seeking ways to make government realize the role of a CFO is more than just writing financial reports and counting beans.

Despite the passage of 'alphabet soup' laws such as GPRA, the Government Performance and Results Act, agencies still are far from making accurate, reliable accounting a priority, Mike Hettinger, staff director of the House Government Reform Subcommittee on Government Management, Finance and Accountability, told a recent panel discussion in Washington.

'There's a host of underlying feeder systems that are not generating data that is timely, accurate and reliable,' he said. 'We're still plugging some not-reliable data into the same systems.'

Performance-based budgeting, a method of presenting program performance data alongside budget amounts, is another way that CFOs can elevate their role. The ultimate goal is to improve budget decision-making by linking funding choices directly to program results. "

Human Capital: Embryo CXOs

"The Office of Personnel Management is looking for a few good managers in some new places. And maybe even a few future C-level executives.

The agency's Presidential Management Fellows office, which usually finds candidates for its accelerated leadership and management training program in top law and public policy programs at universities and the private sector, is expanding its hunting grounds to universities with first-rate business, information technology, engineering and other curricula.

As part of the effort, PMF officials asked the federal chief executive councils - Chief Human Capital, Chief Acquisition, Chief Financial and Chief Information officers - to determine the kind of skill sets C-level government executives would like candidates for the elite management-training program to have. "

Government Auditing Standards, 2006 Revision - GAO-06-729G

The Government Accountability Office (GAO) today released the following report:
Special Publication - Government Auditing Standards, 2006 Revision.
GAO-06-729G, June 2006.
http://www.gao.gov/cgi-bin/getrpt?GAO-06-729G

Federal Agency Budgeting

Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee
Federal Agency Budgeting
Federal Financial Management, Government Information, and International Security Subcommittee hearing on autopilot budgeting, including the Program Assessment Rating Tool and consideration of how systematic performance reporting of government agencies helps taxpayers get better services as well as whether Congress can better utilize the report cards to inform their annual budgeting.
Witnesses: TBA
Location: 342 Dirksen Senate Office Building. 2:30 p.m. (June 13, 2006)Contact: 202-224-4751 [http://www.hsgac.senate.gov]

DOD Systems Modernization/Financial Management

Senate Armed Services Committee
DOD Systems Modernization/Financial Management
Readiness and Management Support Subcommittee hearing on business systems modernization and financial management in review of the Defense Authorization Request for FY2007.
Witnesses: U.S. Comptroller General David Walker; Kenneth Krieg, undersecretary acquisition, technology and logistics, Defense Department; and Defense Comptroller David Patterson
Location: 222 Russell Senate Office Building. 2:30 p.m. (June 13, 2006)Contact: 202-224-3871 [http://www.senate.gov/~armed_services]

GSA cleans up processes that led to $900m accounting problems

"The General Services Administration has changed policies and standardized processes so it can achieve a clean audit this year after statements about its accounting of $900 million in budgetary resources sank last year's audit.

For eight years GSA's Federal Technology Service had misapplied and miscounted a total of $900 million in fund obligations transferred to it from other agencies for services.

'GSA in its 2005 audit captured the sins of eight years of misapplying funds. I think the agency is righting the ship now,' Eugene Waszily, GSA acting deputy inspector general, told the House Government Reform Subcommittee on Government Management, Finance and Accountability yesterday.

The inaccurate accounting practices included neglecting to close out project accounts after project completion, placing funding that had a one-year life span into an IT revolving fund and awarding contracts using expired funds, Waszily said. He added that GSA has put in place policies to avoid this in the future and cleaned up residual problems of the past. GSA can't really account for each individual antideficiency violation.

'So this is a global mea culpa for the tremendous misaccounting of funds, ' Waszily said.

Newly confirmed GSA Administrator Lurita Doan, who attended the hearing, said later that GSA will look at its issues and come up with honest solutions.

'Transparency and accountability - they're twin pillars for a high performance organization,' she said. "

GSA details audit problems

"The General Services Administration's fiscal 2005 audits capture about eight years of sins and miscalculations of funds that total more than $900 million, an official said in testimony at a congressional hearing June 7.

'The agency had to bite the bullet in one particular year,' Eugene Waszily, acting deputy inspector general of the GSA, told a House Government Reform subcommittee.

The auditors reviewing fiscal 2005 records could not verify some financial information in the statements from GSA, Waszily said. That came after 17 consecutive years of clean audits for GSA.

Signs of a potential problem surfaced in procurement audits conducted in 2004. Reviews found a small number of large procurements made for customer agencies that GSA's acquisition employees lacked the authority to award, Waszily told the subcommittee. Further audits found additional improper awards, several that breached appropriations requirements, including the use of expired funds.

When identified and quantified, the misstated balances total more than $900 million, he said.

Kathleen Turco, GSA's chief financial officer, said at the hearing that she cannot guarantee a clean audit for GSA in fiscal 2006 because the agency is trying to rectify errors in acquisition practices that were uncovered in 2003."

GAO: IRS lacks strong internal controls

"Despite clean audits and steps forward in improving financial management, deficiencies in internal controls still plague the Internal Revenue Service, according to a Government Accountability Office report released June 6.

The GAO said at the beginning of the audit of IRS' fiscal 2005 financial statement, 84 financial management-related recommendations from prior audits remained open because the IRS had not adequately addressed them. During the audit, the GAO was able to close 34; however, the GAO made 22 new recommendations.

Through the analysis, the GAO found that 29 recommendations, or 40 percent of the open cases, related to the IRS' lack of effective controls over safeguarding and securing assets, the report states. To do so, the GAO recommends keeping physical control over vulnerable assets and controlling information processing. It also recommends restricting and making people accountable for resources and records.

In all, 26 recommendations centered on proper documenting and recording of transactions, and 17 regarded effective management review and oversight, according to the report."

Financial Management Line of Business Migration Guidance Paves Way for Competitive Sourcing

" RESTON, Va., June 7 /PRNewswire/ -- The first formal version of the Financial Management Line of Business (FM LoB) migration guidance released by Office of Management and Budget (OMB) includes a competitive framework, favoring public-private competitions governed by the standard A-76 contracting rules established for industry, according to a report released today by INPUT, the authority on government business. Long awaited by the majority of the vendor community, the guidance was expected to offer more
formal direction and procedural explanation. Until the competition guidelines are clarified, vendors may likely find themselves filling support roles while the prime spots as LoB service providers go to federal agencies.

'The fact that OMB decided on competitive sourcing as a means to procure LoB services should come as no surprise to anyone as OMB is the main purveyor of the President's Management Agenda, of which competitive sourcing is one of the key provisions,' stated James Krouse, acting director, public sector market analysis at INPUT."

Input critiques financial management line of business

"Vendors are likely to be crippled in their ability to compete for work under the Financial Management Line of Business until the Office of Management and Budget clarifies rules for Circular A-76 competitions, according to a June 7 report from Input.

Guidance that OMB issued in late May includes a competitive framework marked by standard A-76 contracting rules, which govern the process of opening agency jobs to private-sector competition. According to Input, vendors expected the guidance to offer more formal direction and procedural explanation than it does.

The heart of the issue is that under OMB policy, agencies that need to upgrade a core financial management system must either migrate to a shared service provider (SSP), become an SSP or contract with a vendor. However, according to Input, many agencies that would be competing to become SSPs face restraints from budget regulations that leave them unable to develop effective long-term proposals that cross budget cycles.

Agencies are also able to plan their migration to new systems during a 10-year period, limiting the number of customers that an SSP may expect to gain at any given time, according to the report.

The conflicting instruction brings effective competition to a standstill and calls for more clarity, according to the firm. "

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Forward Observer: Enron on the Potomac

"Lawmakers return this week to a compost heap of phone messages, staff memos, political tracts, newspaper clips, party invitations, government and non-government reports. They would be well served, and hopefully enraged, if they pulled out of the pile one mercifully thin non-government report detailing how the Pentagon -- despite years of promises -- still does not know where many of its taxpayers' billions are going.

'The Defense Department's financial management practices would put any civilian company out of business,' concluded Kwai Chan in his little-noticed but devastating report entitled 'Financial Management in the Department of Defense: No One is Accountable.' Chan, until last year an assistant inspector general for the Environmental Protection Agency and before that an executive at the Government Accountability Office, wrote the report under the sponsorship of Business Leaders for Sensible Priorities, a privately funded pressure group that recently took out a full-page ad in The New York Times calling for the resignation of Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld because of alleged incompetence. "

Draft guidance requires agencies to compete systems with private public shared-services providers

"The Office of Management and Budget has added an unexpected and somewhat confusing twist to the Financial Management Line of Business initiative, especially for agencies with large, in-house legacy systems.

Agencies or bureaus with 10 or more employees operating financial systems that do not comply with Financial System Integration Office requirements must now compete for, at minimum, the hosting and application management of their financial systems. The competitions would be with public and private-sector shared-services providers under OMB Circular A-76.

In a memo, OMB said that with limited exceptions, an agency can rely on its in-house FM system only if officials can demonstrate that it represents 'best value and lower risk.'

The draft migration guidance issued last month requires agencies to release a single request for proposals for both public and private shared-services providers to respond to, publish it on FedBiz-Opps.gov and follow the Federal Acquisition Regulations as much as possible.

The guidance also includes a competitive framework, template for migration project plan, change management best practices and a menu of services that financial management shared-service providers can deliver. Agencies and vendors have until June 12 to comment.

Agencies with fewer than 10 employees running their financial- management systems or those that already have outsourced their applications to the private sector would go through the normal FAR process.

But the decision to use A-76 has left some shared-services providers unclear. 'We don't know what this means for us,' said one federal SSP manager, who requested anonymity. To date, A-76 competitions primarily have involved head-to-head competitions between agency organizations and vendors. Now, OMB wants to bring in a third player, or more—as shared-services providers—to compete for another agency’s jobs. "

DHS CIO Charbo promoted; other leadership posts filled

"Homeland Security Department CIO Scott Charbo has been promoted to acting undersecretary for management, and will continue to hold his existing position. Separately, the Senate confirmed presidential nominees to three critical DHS positions.

Charbo's appointment and the additional confirmations on the eve of the holiday weekend filled notable gaps in the senior ranks of a department that has wrestled with a comprehensive leadership turnover for more than a year.

Also on Friday, the Senate confirmed David Norquist as DHS’ chief finance officer. Norquist formerly was deputy undersecretary of Defense for budget and appropriations affairs. "

Saturday, June 03, 2006

James Taylor - Bringing CFO experience to the IG’s office

"As the former deputy chief financial officer and director of financial management at the Commerce Department, James Taylor used to joke that the inspector general's office was the 'dark side.'

Now he's one of them. "

Friday, June 02, 2006

ENERGY NEEDS BUDGET OFFICER

The Department of Energy’s Savannah River Operations Office has an opening for a GS-15 budget officer in Aiken, S.C.

The incumbent serves as division director and is responsible for coordinating all phases of the U.S. Department of Energy, Savannah River Operations Office planning and budget formulation and execution activities of the complex multi-appropriation, billion dollar funding structure of DOE-SRS.

These responsibilities involve major decisions, recommendations, and actions that have a direct and substantial effect on the overall financial operations of prime contractor(s), DOE-SRS and DOE. The vacancy announcement closes June 8.

To apply for this position, visit http://usajobs.opm.gov and search announcement number SR-2006-013.

More information about the SR can be found at http://www.srs.gov/general/srs-home.html.

FederalNewsRadio - Ask the CFO - Leonard Olijar (Treasury BEP)

"Operating like a real private sector business -- without appropriations

Listen with Windows Media Player"

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Local man named to Homeland Security

"Weston native David L. Norquist had to field a grueling 80 minutes of questioning from members of a U.S. Senate committee before being confirmed Friday as chief financial officer of the Department of Homeland Security.

As chief financial officer, Norquist will be responsible for the management of the 22-agency department, preparing the department’s multibillion-dollar budget and financial statement, and submitting the budget to Congress. "

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