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Monday, July 31, 2006

Grants gov needs to streamline simplify: GAO

"Grants.gov continues to demonstrate a lack of standardization and inefficiencies in grant administration across federal agencies and difficulties with implementing its Web portal, the Government Accountability Office said in a report.

Grants.gov is the Web site where those seeking grant opportunities can find and apply for them electronically. Agencies are to post their grant opportunities or announcements of the grant opportunities on the site. All major agencies now provide this capability.

Grants.gov demonstrated progress since GAO's evaluation last year but many of the same problems persist.

'Grantees continue to express frustration with having to work with varying systems to apply for and report on the use of grant funds, to respond to different administrative requirements, and to use different payment systems,' said Stanley Czerwinski, GAO's director of strategic issues in the report [PDF] released Friday.

Grantees reported that they continue to need to use different application, reporting and payment systems, and definitions differ across agencies. Some grant processes do not align with typical grantee business practices, making it difficult for documents to flow between agency and grantee smoothly.

The Grants.gov Program Management Office, however, has taken action already to fix many of the problems, including improving the search capability and a redesign of its Web site. Grants.gov also plans further upgrades to the computer hardware to meet processing requirements as additional grant packages are added to the site, GAO said. "

OMB updates financial-reporting guidance

"The Office of Management and Budget has updated guidance for governmentwide financial reporting required under OMB Circular A-136. The guidance clarifies changes for the fiscal 2006 Performance and Accountability Report, future PARs and financial statements.

The revisions take effect at the end of the fiscal year, Sept. 30, unless otherwise specified, said OMB Director Rob Portman in the memo dated July 24.

The guidance makes permanent for all agencies the PARs submission deadline of 45 days after the end of the fiscal year, or Nov. 15. The Treasury Department must provide its governmentwide financial report one month later, or Dec. 15.

Other changes in the guidance reflect new requirements, such as incorporating a management assurance statement attesting to the agency's compliance with Circular A-123, Management's Responsibility for Internal Controls. "

Thursday, July 27, 2006

FBI adds new leadership position

"The FBI has added a new position to its leadership structure: associate deputy director. Joseph Ford, the first to hold the job, will oversee management of the bureau's employees, budget, administration and infrastructure, including technology.

FBI Director Robert Mueller, in announcing the position and other internal realignments, said the position will be similar to that of a chief operating officer at a company and will be third on the agency's chain of command.

The FBI got final approval July 24 to pursue its realignment plans, Mueller said. In addition to Ford's appointment, several other new leaders have been brought to the Washington, D.C., headquarters office and the organizational chart has been redrawn."

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

FederalNewsRadio - Ask the CFO - Jerry Bridges (CNS)

"Bridges most recently held the position of controller of Johns Hopkins University for 18 years. Prior to that, he served in a variety of financial and accounting capacities for several federal agencies, including the U.S. Information Agency, the Office of Management and Budget, and the State Department. Bridges, who is licensed as a Certified Public Accountant in Virginia and Maryland, received a Master of Business Administration from the University of Dayton and a Bachelor of Science in Commerce from the University of Kentucky.

Listen with Windows Media Player"

Senate seeks contractors for program development

"The Senate is looking to tap the private sector for two program analysts that will help the chamber design and develop financial management and other software components.

In a recent notice, the Senate Sergeant at Arms' finance division said the contractors will work for about one year, with four one-year options.

The contractors will support two key Senate systems - the Financial Management Information System (FMIS), an integrated financial-management system, and the Legislative Information System (LIS), which tracks, stores, reports and distributes legislative data.

Interested vendors must reply to the notice by Aug. 7. "

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Labor's deal preceded OMB guidance; Rep Platts questions compliance

"Depending on who you talk to, the Labor Department's decision to tap the private sector for financial-management hosting services is a clear example either of what is right or wrong with the way the White House has pursued the Financial Management Line of Business initiative.

For the agency and the Office of Management and Budget, Labor's deal with Mythics Inc. of Virginia Beach, Va., personifies the crux of the LOB concept: By outsourcing a nongovernmental function, Labor can refocus both money and staff on mission-specific needs.

For critics on Capitol Hill, it's an example of moving too fast, too soon.

Even though Labor signed the deal before OMB finalized its migration guidance, Labor officials said they have no regrets.

'We're glad we selected the approach we did,' said Valerie Harris, Labor's associate deputy CFO for financial systems. 'We did meet the letter of the requirements of what OMB is trying to do.'

But Rep. Todd Platts (R-Pa.), questions whether the administration, and agencies, are prepared to make the switch.

While supportive of the concept, Platts, chairman of the Government Reform Subcommittee on Government Management, Finance and Accountability, has repeatedly raised concerns that OMB is moving too quickly, forcing agencies to assess their financial-management systems and either become a shared-services provider or migrate to one if their systems need an overhaul.

This is problematic, he has said, because OMB has yet to finalize its migration guidelines that spell out specifics on whether and how an agency should move to either a federal SSP or the private sector.

'The situation with Labor was a new wrinkle for this whole thing,' said Mike Hettinger, subcommittee staff director. “Everybody admits that there is merit to consolidating financial management, [but] what we have to do is say look, the guidance is incomplete, but we’re asking agencies to consider migrations.”

OMB’s draft migration memorandum, released in May, stated that, with limited exceptions, an agency only could rely on its in-house financial-management 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 details how agencies compete inherently commercial federal positions with the private sector.

But just before OMB issued the memo, Labor awarded Mythics a five-year, $5.3 million contract in March.

The contract raised eyebrows because Mythics has not been designated a shared-services provider, causing Platts to wonder if Labor’s contract would be in compliance with OMB’s migration guidance, when finalized. "

Friday, July 21, 2006

FCW Events - CIO Summit

"FCW Events - CIO Summit, held May 21-23 in Naples, Fla., brought together a wide range of experts to explore the theme 'Managing Change and Complexity: A Tune-Up for Government CXOs.'

For the session “CFO Insights: Orchestrating IT Funding Success,” a state controller and the chief financial officer from a Cabinet-level agency describe their jobs and how CIOs can go a long way toward fostering collaboration by taking the time to understand CFOs’ priorities. Click here to view this session. "

Proposed database would track federal spending (7/20/06)

"A Senate measure debated in committee on Tuesday would boost the transparency and accessibility of federal contract and grant spending, but political and logistical challenges could hinder its approval.

Supporters of the Federal Funding Accountability and Transparency Act (S. 2590) testified that the bill presents a bilateral approach to trimming federal spending by enhancing public scrutiny of expenditures. The measure would require the Office of Management and Budget to oversee creation of a free, searchable, Web-accessible database with detailed information on grants and contracts awarded by the federal government.

The database would have to include entries for funding amount, location of performance, originating program and agency, and an entity's 10-year history of federal funding, and would have to be user-friendly to both experienced and casual visitors. Data would be added within 30 days of award, and exclusions would ensure the privacy of payments made to individuals, as well as those with national security sensitivities. "

CIOs crucial to financial-management performance

"Financial management isn't just for chief financial officers anymore. Just ask Agency for International Development CFO Lisa Fiely, who recently helped roll out a new financial-management system for her agency at locations all over the world.

Although the CFOs are the experts in understanding the new system, the rollout would not have succeeded without constant interaction with her agency's CIO.

'The collaboration and support we got from our CIO was tremendous,' Fiely said at a panel discussion Wednesday in Vienna, Va., hosted by the Industry Advisory Council. 'They were right there with us.'

Other CFO experts at the panel agreed that as agencies modernize their financial management systems, they must reach out and collaborate with their CIO counterparts.

'That's a theme we need to talk about - Do we have a CFO and CIO that work together? - said Adam Goldberg, financial integrity and analysis breach chief at the Office of Management and Budget's Office of Federal Financial Management.

Kathleen Turco, CFO at the General Services Administration, said that when her agency lost a clean audit opinion, she worked extensively with the CIO's office to develop a plan to fix the agency's financial-reporting problems.

This experience convinced Turco that every government CIO needs to understand the financial-management auditing cycle.
'It's not just about the budget anymore,' she said. Audit cycles, essentially, last all year, 'there's no let up.'

Turco also said CIOs must be fluent in OMB Circular A-123, which implements financial controls for government agencies in the spirit of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act that directed private corporations to implement internal controls for financial reporting.

'We’re living and breathing it here at GSA,” she said. "

CIOs, CFOs must collaborate, panel says

"As financial management systems evolve, chief financial and chief information officers must collaborate because technology and financial systems are becoming intertwined, members of a panel said.

'The CFO community can't do this on their own,' said Adam Goldberg, financial integrity and analysis branch chief at the Office of Federal Procurement Policy.

Goldberg was a panelist July 19 at an Industry Advisory Council/American Council for Technology meeting that looked at how financial management systems are becoming more modern.

CIOs and CFOs need to leave their egos at the door as financial and technology systems more often rely on one another, said panelist Lisa Fiely, CFO at the U.S. Agency for International Development. The job is too large to have officials knocking heads over smaller issues, she said.

'Each of us needs the other one,' Fiely said.

Goldberg said CIOs and CFOs should share responsibility for the tasks and hold one another accountable for accomplishing them. Know the requirements that affect only the agency and business requirements that depend on sources outside it, he said. Officials must understand the business processes and decide how to make them consistent agencywide, Goldberg added. The byproduct will be clean audits.

When problems arise, make the most of solutions other agencies successfully applied, Goldberg said.

'It's not like we're making different mistakes,' he said."

Thursday, July 20, 2006

On PAR at State: Bradford Higgins State Department CFO

"In September 2001, Bradford Higgins was working in executive splendor on Wall Street for Goldman Sachs.

A few months later, he was serving in Iraq and living in a dusty trailer in Baghdad's 120-degree heat.

He describes it as 'the best experience I've ever had.'

Higgins, the State Department's assistant secretary for resources management and chief financial officer, was deeply affected by the loss of several Wall Street friends who died in the Sept. 11 attacks. Soon afterward, he left the comforts of lower Manhattan to serve as CFO of the Coalition Provisional Authority in Iraq.

'We live in challenging times,' he said. 'And in these times, we really need to focus on results.'

As State's CFO, Higgins is responsible for the department's performance and accountability report, a 480-page snapshot of the department's financial, operational and management performance. Each agency is required by the Government Performance Results Act of 1993 to submit a PAR each year to the president, Congress and the Office of Management and Budget.

'The PAR is our scorecard,' Higgins said. 'It's the key to our planning and performance at State.'

On Wall Street, Higgins relied on an array of market indicators to show results. But showing the results of something as intangible as diplomacy requires the development of a new set of metrics. 'And it's hard to get money from Congress for things that aren't bricks and mortar,' he said.

The PAR uses three kinds of indicators to gauge the department's progress: contextual, outcome and output.

Contextual indicators show the big picture, outcome indicators measure the overall impact of a program and output indicators are measures specific to a particular program.

'Even though diplomacy is a soft science, you can measure outcomes,” said Kevin Covert, State’s performance management officer.

The department uses case studies and graphics to make the document more compelling. State’s PAR, Higgins said, 'tells a story.'"

Hybrid workforce requires meticulous management - by Sam Mok

"Two employees sit in neighboring cubicles working on the same project. Both have comparable responsibilities and are equally effective. However, the similarities end when it comes to what motivates them.

The first employee works for the government and believes the work has intrinsic value and that there is a duty to serve the American public as well as possible.

The second employee, a contractor, enjoys the job but needs to work 60-hour weeks, split between this project and two others, to earn a bonus this year. The contractor also wants consideration for a future promotion up the corporate ladder.
While this may be an oversimplification, my experience in both the public and private sectors has shown that balance between these divergent motivations is critical to achieving successful results in the modern federal workplace.

This is particularly important as the federal government increasingly looks to the contractor community for expertise and cost savings when addressing some of its most pressing needs. This issue is further compounded as an in- creasing number of federal jobs are subject to competitive-sourcing initiatives under the President's Management Agenda. "

The National Business Center Takes on the Private Sector

"Can a government organization be run like a business?

The Interior Department's National Business Center is doing just that. NBC, a cross-agency service provider, has a solid business base and a growing portfolio. It's also gearing up to compete head-on with private-sector vendors for contracts.

'We're a business in a federal environment,' said Sandra Weisman, NBC's chief financial officer and associate director for budget and finance. 'We don't get any appropriations,' she said, alluding to fact that NBC can only pay its people if it makes money. 'There is a tremendous accountability there,' she said.

With over 1,200 employees and an annual budget approaching $300 million, NBC is one of four payroll services and one of five human-resources providers for federal agencies. NASA, the Transportation Department and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission are among NBC’s more than 125 customers. NBC’s multitudinous other services include IT, acquisitions, asset management and drug testing. Finding success in a competitive business environment is no mean feat. “We’ve won some, we’ve lost some,” NBC director Doug Bourgeois said, referring to financial-management competitions.

One-stop shopping is NBC’s primary competitive edge. “Our strength lies in our ability to provide a full set of outsourced business management services to our customers,” Bourgeois said.

NBC uses a best-of-breed combination of private-sector and federal employees to achieve its aims. It endeavors to “focus feds on the things that feds do best and to use the private sector for the other things that they do better,” Weisman said.
NBC competes with other service centers in the federal league, but is also starting to go head-to-head with the private sector.

Calm Under Pressure - Planning for the unexpected helps Patricia Healy manage during crises

"During a crisis, it's not uncommon for otherwise quiet, unassuming managers to become the glue - the connectors - that hold everything else together. These people do not typically get the glory or the headlines, yet their influence leaves an indelible imprint. At the Agriculture Department, that kind of imprint is one that colleagues associate with Patricia Healy.

Unsung hero. Team player. Courageous. Compassionate. These are some of the words Healy's co-workers use to describe her.

Healy is Agriculture's deputy chief financial officer. Yet her response in the face of trials and disasters has earned her additional distinction in a role that executives often find themselves in - crisis managers. Her managerial style also highlights the importance of preparation and communication when the unexpected occurs.

Healy is quick to deflect credit to her colleagues for some of the department’s most herioc efforts.

But by all accounts, she played a pivotal role in USDA’s response during the sweeping disruptions caused by Hurricane Katrina. The focus of the response was the National Finance Center in New Orleans, a unit of the department, which handles payroll operations for thousands of federal employees. While Hurricane Katrina bore down on the city last year, NFC managed to rush out the payroll for more than half a million federal workers on time (Government Leader, March/April 2006, Page 26).

When Katrina hit, the department was in the middle of its year-end accounting, Healy said. Some of USDA’s financial feeder systems and accounting operations were also located in New Orleans. “We were able to recover our systems and operations, close our books, produce statements, provide auditors with the samples and responses they needed, and meet the Office of Management and Budget’s deadline to provide our Performance and Accountability Report 45 days after year-end close—and all despite Katrina.” "

Senators weigh bill on disclosure of government spending (7/19/06)

"Supporters of legislation that would shed light on government spending through the use of a searchable database told a Senate subcommittee Tuesday that the measure would improve government transparency and help cut excessive spending.

The bill, sponsored by Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Federal Financial Management Subcommittee Chairman Tom Coburn, R-Okla., would establish a public database that would track federal money doled out to institutions.

A similar measure coasted through the House last month, but unlike the pending Senate measure, the bill sponsored by House Majority Whip Roy Blunt, R-Mo., and Government Reform Chairman Tom Davis, R-Va., would not require that federal spending on government procurements be reported. "

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

DHS seeks shift in funds to cover Federal Protective Service shortfall

"Senate appropriators and Homeland Security Department officials plan to meet Thursday to discuss a department request to shift more than $42 million in funds to address a budget shortfall at the Federal Protective Service.

Late payments from agencies that reimburse FPS for its building protection services, an undersized staff and financial mismanagement are to blame for the gap in the agency's budget, and the subsequent June 30 request to reprogram funds from other accounts within DHS, an agency management source said. The requested shift would draw funds from areas, including explosives detection and detention of illegal immigrants.

In a June 30 letter to Sen. Robert Byrd, D-W.Va., ranking member of the subcommittee handling homeland security appropriations, DHS Acting Management Undersecretary Scott Charbo said the transfer was necessary because of 'the structural transition of FPS from the General Services Administration,' its former parent agency, to the Immigration and Customs Enforcement bureau within DHS, and 'financial management issues.' "

AGA's Latest Research Reports Just Published

AGA’s Thought Leadership Series continues with several new published reports:

Challenges in Performance Auditing: How a State Auditor with Intriguing New Performance Auditing Authority is Meeting Them

In November 2005 the citizens of Washington state voted to give their state auditor the most extensive authority in the country to conduct comprehensive, independent performance audits of state and local governments. This study documents the initial actions taken by the state auditor to implement the provisions and prepare to conduct performance audits.

PAR: The Report We Hate to Love

This project was undertaken to determine the usefulness of Performance and Accountability Reports (PARs) for their intended audiences, and how that usefulness can be improved.

Annual CFO Survey: Measures, Systems and Centers of Excellence

This year, CFOs were asked about progress toward meeting financial improvement goals, including the President’s Management Agenda and the Lines of Business initiative, which are both managed by the U.S. Office of Management and Budget. Most survey respondents support the financial management goals, but many are concerned about details of migrating agency- and department-level functions to shared services arrangements called Shared Service Centers. The report said, “Most of the improvement initiatives to date have focused on the infrastructure and basic processes of financial management. Many federal financial leaders want to get beyond this stage of development and focus on how financial management can better contribute to achieving agency missions.”

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Transformation at Defense

"A cursory glance at any government-focused publication, particularly those covering information technology and management, clearly demonstrates that the Defense Department is transforming the way it manages its finances. A flood of articles and reports detail both new initiatives and progress on improvements to existing programs.

During the past half century, the military services and Defense agencies developed a wide variety of financial management programs, each unique to its specific needs. With the advent of IT, the array of systems has exploded and today there are literally thousands of programs and processes. Most are a combination of old and new, ranging from paper-and-pencil legacy processes to near state-of-the-art, computer-based management systems. Few can interact with others, none meets congressionally mandated requirements, and all fail to provide the level of reliability, accuracy and timeliness needed for today's rapid-fire environment.

Examples of effective and efficient financial management systems are more readily found in the commercial environment than in any level of government. Out there, businesses survive and grow by having a firm grip on income, expenses, assets and liabilities. Most speak a common financial language and adhere to well-defined business rules and processes. Businesses take advantage of commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) software to manage data, provide their customers with consolidated and accurate bills, and measure performance.

The federal government, particularly Defense, is acutely aware of the need for transforming financial management to more closely mirror the commercial world. That means enterprisewide solutions using COTS, a common language, and tried and proven processes. And while it may not be measured by a profit and loss statement, transformation at Defense will be measured against congressionally mandated standards and must comply with Defense’s own business enterprise architecture. "


"The U.S. Department of Transportation, Federal Railroad Administration is currently recruiting for a Director, Office of Financial Management, in Washington, D.C.

This is a career reserved position in the Senior Executive Service.

The complete announcement may be found on the FRA's website at http://www.fra.dot.gov under Jobs and at http://www.usajobs.gov/. The announcement describes the actual duties and qualifications of the position, the salary range, and the application procedures necessary to receive consideration."

OMB publishes online catalog of IT guidelines (7/17/06)

"Part of the challenge of implementing change is following the guidelines -- and knowing exactly what the changes are. To that end, the White House Office of Management and Budget on Monday announced the release of an online catalog to make guidelines on information technology practices easier to access.

OMB is sending a memorandum to the chief information officers and chief architects of the different federal agencies to explain the launch of the federal transition framework, which consolidates guidance to agencies on policies and best practices on tech solutions. "

The Federal Transition Framework (FTF) is a single information source for cross-agency information technology (IT) initiatives using a simple, familiar and organized structure. It contains government-wide IT policy objectives and cross-agency initiatives including:

- OMB-sponsored initiatives, e.g., E-Gov and LoB initiatives

- Government-wide initiatives, e.g., Internet Protocol Version 6 (IPV6), Homeland Security Presidential Directive 12 (HSPD 12)

Monday, July 17, 2006

Federal Transition Framework designed to make cross-agency initiatives easier

"Federal Transition Framework designed to make cross-agency initiatives easier

After the last budget cycle, Richard Burk could clearly see the correlation between the maturity of an agency's enterprise architecture and how well it controlled spending.

Burk, the Office of Management and Budget's chief architect, found agencies that were successfully using their EAs - those that scored at least a 3 out of 5 in OMB's assessment - spent less of their discretionary budget on IT than other agencies.

'This is exactly what we want,' Burk said. 'The issue is not [so much] to spend less money, but the fact that we can deliver higher quality services in a more economical way.'

That's why OMB is giving agencies a set of guidances designed to make integrating their enterprise architectures with their budget submissions easier and more effective.

Burk, along with members of the Chief Architects Forum and the CIO Council's Architecture and Infrastructure Committee, released the first guidance, the Federal Transition Framework, earlier this month. The framework gives agencies a standard way of describing cross-agency initiatives and makes the sharing of that information easier.

OMB officials are asking agencies, beginning with the fiscal 2009 budget submission, to adhere to a more structured way of characterizing governmentwide projects that can be mapped to the Federal Enterprise Architecture Reference models.

'We wanted to find a way to use architecture to facilitate agency adoption of cross-agency initiatives,' Burk said. 'The first step is to standardize the information on these initiatives. We want to bring information together and organize it in a consistent way.'

Along with the FTF, which OMB will update in September, Burk said his office will issue a new EA assessment framework and "

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Agencies prove they’re cleaning up the books

After a frantic year of mapping the checks and balances that keep their bookkeeping activities on the up and up, chief financial officers and their staffs this month are breathing sighs of relief that the first deadline to document their internal financial controls has come and gone.

In order to comply with the Office of Management and Budget’s revised Circular A-123, departments must thoroughly document their key business processes and controls. As with the 2002 Sarbanes-Oxley Act regulations affecting the private sector, the hope here is that better process documentation will highlight trouble spots early on and improve overall financial management.

June 30 marked the first milestone for agencies to demonstrate to OMB that they’re on the right track. OMB reports that most agencies are on target to complete these assessments by the end of the year, but that some agencies have decided to implement the requirements over multiple years, which is also permissible.

Today's GAO Correspondence

The Government Accountability Office (GAO) released the following correspondence.

Management Report: Opportunities for Improvements in FDIC's Internal Controls and Accounting Procedures. GAO-06-772R, July 11.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Preston named SBA administrator

"Steven Preston, a financial management expert, was sworn in Monday as the new administrator of the Small Business Administration.

Preston was confirmed by unanimous consent of the Senate June 29. During his confirmation hearing, Preston emphasized the importance of financial management, operational responsiveness and customer service at SBA. "

Senate Will Hold Hearing on Federal Spending Transparency

"A Senate hearing has been scheduled for July 18 to discuss the need for publicly available information surrounding federal spending and how the Federal Funding Accountability and Transparency Act (S. 2590) will create this transparency.
Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK), the chairman of the Subcommittee on Federal Financial Management, Government Information, and International Security, announced the hearing to focus on legislation he introduced with Sens. Barack Obama (D-IL), Tom Carper (D-DE), and John McCain (R-AZ). The bill would require the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) to ensure that a single searchable website provide free public access to information about contracts, grants, loans, and other forms of federal assistance. "

FederalNewsRadio - Ask the CFO - Richard Greco (Navy)

"Richard Greco, Jr. was nominated by President George W. Bush to serve as The Assistant Secretary of the Navy (Financial Management and Comptroller) on September 10, 2004 and was confirmed by the Senate one month later. In his capacity Secretary Greco is the chief financial officer of the Department of the Navy and is responsible for directing and managing the Department's financial activities, including the preparation, justification, and execution of a $126 billion budget; all financial policy, comptroller, accounting, audit, treasury, fiscal, legal, reporting, and Congressional relations functions; and recruiting, training, and leading a financial management workforce of 9,000 people. He also serves on the Department's many governance boards, including the executive steering group of the United States Naval Academy and the Acquisition Integrity Board. For exceptionally distinguished service, the Secretary of the Navy bestowed on Mr. Greco the Distinguished Public Service Award, the Department of the Navy's highest civilian honor.

Listen with Windows Media Player"

Commerce to consolidate financial management platforms

"The Commerce Department will consolidate its financial management system onto one internal data center from the three platforms on which it runs currently.

Commerce will start moving toward one platform in the next fiscal year, said Mike Sade, chief acquisition officer at the Commerce Department. The consolidation is a preparation for moving to a financial management Line of Business, probably in 2012.

'We get everybody to one [platform] and then the line of business migration will be easier,' he said today at an event sponsored by market research firm Input Inc. of Reston, Va.

Commerce has two financial systems, one for the Patent and Trade Office and the other for the rest of Commerce, but the latter is on three platforms.

Sade discussed Commerce's management challenges, including financial management and internal controls, IT security and department acquisition processes. "

Friday, July 07, 2006

Acquisition councils finalize EVM rule

"Federal acquisition officials finalized a rule, effective today, that details how agencies should implement an earned-value management system for managing major acquisitions.

In a notice, the Civilian Agency Acquisition and the Defense Acquisition Regulations councils said the rule was not altered significantly from its April 2005 draft and there will not be public meetings on the new standards.

The rule is now incorporated in the Federal Acquisition Regulation.

An earned-value management system is a project management tool that, in theory, lets project managers track money spent on a project almost in real time and measures that expense against milestones and deadlines.

The Office of Management and Budget, in Circular A-11, required the use of an EVMS on developmental, high-risk acquisitions. "

Today's GAO Correspondence

The Government Accountability Office (GAO) today released the following correspondences:

Federally Chartered Corporation: Financial Statement Audit Report for the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation for Fiscal Years 2004 and 2003.
GAO-06-921R, July 7. http://www.gao.gov/cgi-bin/getrpt?GAO-06-921R

Federally Chartered Corporation: Financial Statement Audit Report for the Former Members of Congress for Fiscal Year 2004.
GAO-06-922R, July 7. http://www.gao.gov/cgi-bin/getrpt?GAO-06-922R

Federally Chartered Corporation: Financial Statement Audit Report for the Big Brothers-Big Sisters of America for Fiscal Year 2004.
GAO-06-923R, July 7. http://www.gao.gov/cgi-bin/getrpt?GAO-06-923R

Federally Chartered Corporation: Financial Statement Audit Report for the Congressional Medal of Honor Society of the United States of America for Fiscal Years 2004 and 2003.
GAO-06-924R, July 7. http://www.gao.gov/cgi-bin/getrpt?GAO-06-924R

Federally Chartered Corporation: Financial Statement Audit Report for the Catholic War Veterans of the United States of America, Incorporated, for Fiscal Year 2004.
GAO-06-925R, July 7. http://www.gao.gov/cgi-bin/getrpt?GAO-06-925R

Federally Chartered Corporation: Financial Statement Audit Report for the National Ski Patrol System, Incorporated, for Fiscal Years 2005 and 2004.
GAO-06-926R, July 7. http://www.gao.gov/cgi-bin/getrpt?GAO-06-926R

Federally Chartered Corporation: Financial Statement Audit Report for the Jewish War Veterans, U.S.A., National Memorial, Incorporated, for Fiscal Years 2005 and 2004.
GAO-06-927R, July 7. http://www.gao.gov/cgi-bin/getrpt?GAO-06-927R

Chief Financial Officer and Director of Administration (CFO/DoA)

International Trade Administration (ITA) is recruiting for the principal SES position of CFO/DoA responsible for long-range planning and integration of financial, human resources, and administrative support services. Top-Secret security clearance required.

Mail Applications to: U.S. Department of Commerce, International Trade Administration, Office of HR Management Attn: Robert Montague, Room 7417, 14th Street and Constitution Avenue, NW, Washington, D.C. 20230

E-Mail: Robert.Montague@mail.doc.gov
Application Requirements: www.usajobs.opm.gov
Announcement # ITA-S06-004-RM

Thursday, July 06, 2006

FederalNewsRadio - Ask the CFO - John Cox (HUD)

"BIOGRAPHY: As Chief Financial Officer, John W. Cox is responsible for overseeing the financial management practices that ensure the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development meets the needs of the housing community. His duties include preparing and accounting for HUD's budget, strategic and budget planning, and establishing and maintaining financial systems which process millions of transactions annually to support HUD projects. Mr. Cox has primary responsibility for filing timely and accurate financial statements for HUD and is responsible for establishing internal controls over financial matters for the department.

Listen with Windows Media Player"

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Defense IG to release reports on interagency contracting problems

"Faulty contracting practices and violations of a law on federal spending will be the subject of five reports to be released in August by the Defense Department inspector general's office, a Defense official told an acquisition advisory group Thursday.
Terry McKinney, program director for the contract management directorate at the Defense Department's IG office, said the office is completing work on four separate reports on Defense contracts placed through the General Services Administration, procurement centers at the Interior and Treasury departments, and NASA.

A fifth report will focus on about 70 violations of the Anti-Deficiency Act uncovered in fiscal 2005 and also will address about 38 violations from fiscal 2004 that were previously disclosed, he said. The Anti-Deficiency Act prevents agencies from spending funds in excess of a given appropriation. "

Monday, July 03, 2006

Medicaid Financial Management: Steps Taken to Improve Federal Oversight but Other Actions Needed to Sustain Efforts

The Government Accountability Office (GAO) today released the following report:
Medicaid Financial Management: Steps Taken to Improve Federal Oversight but Other Actions Needed to Sustain Efforts. GAO-06-705, June 22.

These and other GAO products are available from the "Reports and Testimony" section of GAO's Internet site, http://www.gao.gov.

Rules for competition in IT consolidation called too restrictive

"Legislative restrictions on the government's ability to contract out jobs performed by civil servants could hinder a governmentwide attempt to streamline financial management computer systems, an industry representative told lawmakers earlier this week.

The Office of Management and Budget's lines of business effort asks agencies to consolidate information technology systems that support rote tasks in common functions such as financial management and human resources, to a handful of public or private sector service providers. OMB said the effort will save money through centralization.

In draft guidance released in late May, OMB said that once agencies determine that they're ready to replace their in-house financial management operations in favor of a shared service center, they must hold a competition that includes bids from the private sector.

In February 2005, OMB officially selected four federal agencies as financial management service providers. Agencies seeking to convert their IT operations would issue a request for proposals and evaluate bids submitted by these OMB-designated federal service centers as well as by private sector companies.

But language in a fiscal 2006 appropriations law requires agencies to rule out private sector bids that do not guarantee savings of at least $10 million or 10 percent of labor costs. That restriction does not apply to public sector bids and, consequently, the rules would put the private sector at a competitive disadvantage, Stan Soloway, president of the Professional Services Council, said Wednesday at a House hearing. "