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Friday, September 15, 2006

New CFO at DHS puts halt to system consolidation plan

"The Homeland Security Department's new chief financial officer is putting the brakes on plans to merge the agency's eight financial management systems until further studies are done.

Homeland Security has had a problem with accounting and other budget-tracking functions since its 2003 inception. The department had planned to move underperforming agencies to better-performing systems by fiscal 2007, cutting the number of systems in half. Former CFO Andrew Maner began moving toward system consolidation early in 2006, after the previous program - which sought to create a single departmentwide financial management system called eMerge2 - failed after costing $18 million.

But David Norquist, who was confirmed as CFO in May, told the House Government Reform subcommittee on government management, finance and accountability that the plan to halve the number of systems would be disruptive and time-consuming, and he is not sure whether it is the right approach.
'I am not going to undertake this approach until I know that the benefits will outweigh the costs,' Norquist said Sept. 13.

Norquist said his office will review Homeland Security’s systems during the next few months and — if the system consolidation still looks like a good idea — create a business case that ties them into longer-range plans.

Norquist plans to study the systems and find out which meet financial management standards and which could meet those standards with modest improvements. Those systems could become service providers for underperforming agencies.
Norquist added that he has no plan to create a single departmentwide financial management system, such as the previous eMerge2 project. "

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