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Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Management agenda gets face-lift with new Web site, message

The Office of Management and Budget is reshaping its management agenda message with a new focus on signs of change and a new look for its Web site.

The new public face is timed to coincide with Thursday's release of the quarterly President's Management Agenda score card for the first quarter of fiscal 2007. The changes reflect a shift from concentrating on the metrics used for the traffic-light-style grading to looking more at what good marks mean in terms of the effectiveness of government programs, OMB officials told Government Executive on Wednesday.

The redesign of Results.gov, home to information on the management agenda and the quarterly score cards, will go live Thursday. The new site will be geared more clearly toward federal employees -- the main target audience -- and will highlight individual successes over general program information.
Clay Johnson, OMB's deputy director for management, described the five key management initiatives -- human capital management, competitive sourcing, financial performance, e-government and budget-performance integration -- as tools that allow agencies to become more efficient, rather than goals in and of themselves. The theme of emphasizing actual improvements rather than the scores, is one that aligns more closely with President Bush's perspective on federal management, Johnson has said.

He said Wednesday that the changes on the score card, which has gone from a sea of red to a mosaic of red, yellow and green, do not translate directly to better management. "This doesn't mean that government is that much more effective than five years ago," he said. "We need to be sure [agencies] are taking this ability to be more effective, and being more effective."

In the new OMB score card, the greatest change is in the volatile e-government category. This area has experienced roller-coaster movement over the last year, attributed by officials in part to meeting and missing hard deadlines on major projects. Five agencies -- the Agriculture, Defense and Justice departments, the Office of Personnel Management and the Smithsonian Institution -- earned rising scores on the latest round, while the Education and Transportation departments and Social Security Administration lost ground.

Agriculture and the Army Corps of Engineers both boosted their scores in the area of linking budget and performance information, while the Housing and Urban Development Department moved up to yellow in financial performance and the General Services Administration jumped two levels from red to green in that area.

-Jenny Mandel, GovExec.com


Today's GAO Presentation

The Government Accountability Office (GAO) today released the following presentation.

"Improving Performance, Accountability, and Transparency in the Federal Government," by David M. Walker, comptroller general of the United States, before the Government Performance Summit, in Washington, D.C.
GAO-07-420CG, January 29.

Oracle Releases New Version of Siebel Customer Relationship Management Applications

Major Release of Oracle's Siebel 8 Provides Superior Usability and Intelligence at the Moment of Customer Interaction to Simplify CRM Processes

NEW YORK, Jan. 31 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- Today at its global "Applications Unlimited" event held on 6 continents over 24 hours, Oracle (Nasdaq: ORCL - News) announced the general availability of Oracle's Siebel CRM Release 8. The new release enables customer-driven business transformation offering real-time insight at the moment of customer interaction and accelerates revenue growth through better-informed decisions. Delivered as part of Oracle's "Applications Unlimited" program, Siebel 8 offers users a superior ownership experience with a choice of multiple deployment options, ease of manageability and low cost integration.

With certification with Oracle® Fusion Middleware, Siebel 8 provides comprehensive support for Service-Oriented Architectures (SOAs) and out-of-the-box Web services-based integration. This simplifies integration between Siebel and other applications and services and accelerates web-based application development. Additionally, Siebel 8 will also provide ongoing, heterogeneous support for non-Oracle technology -- including IBM WebSphere, BEA WebLogic, SQL Server 2005 and IBM DB2 -- to help increase the value of existing IT investments and prevent vendor lock-in.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Budget proposal to detail benefits of IT consolidation

The Bush administration's fiscal 2008 budget proposal will detail the financial benefits of an effort to consolidate back-office information technology systems across government, an Office of Management and Budget official said Tuesday.

The effort, known as the lines of business initiative, encourages agencies to move away from maintaining their own IT systems in areas such as financial management and human resources, and toward using service centers shared with other agencies. The service centers could be run by a federal agency or a private sector contractor.

From fiscal 2006 to fiscal 2007, planned spending on IT to support agency missions increased by $1 billion across government, said Tim Young, OMB's associate administrator for e-government and information technology, at the Government Performance Summit in Washington. But during that same period, there was a substantially smaller increase in planned infrastructure spending, Young said.

"In my view, that is an indication that agencies are consolidating and optimizing their infrastructure, and they're fully utilizing the president's e-government and lines of business initiative," Young said.

For example, the Housing and Urban Development Department saved more than $10 million in 2005 by transferring to the Treasury Department's HR Connect service center, and is in the process of shutting down 17 separate human resources systems, Young said.

"Transparency breeds accountability and accountability breeds results," Young said. "Look at the agencies that have no investments on the management watch list. One could conclude from this that they are pretty good, at least on paper, at planning the implementation of their capital investments."

-Daniel Pulliam, GovExec.com


OMB management chief welcomes Democratic oversight

Key committees involved in oversight of government activities are preparing to hold their first hearings this session of Congress, and the Bush administration's management chief says he is looking forward to working with the new Democratic leaders.

Clay Johnson, deputy director for management at the Office of Management and Budget, said last week that he has met with the chairmen of the House Oversight and Government Reform and the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs committees. Both sides agreed there are flaws that need to be addressed, he said.

He said Sen. Joseph Lieberman, D-Conn., the chairman of the Senate committee, wanted to know how he could assist OMB.

"[He] told us ... 'Let me know what I can do. If you have any stumbling blocks or obstacles out there, let me know what I can do to keep these things moving forward,'" Johnson said.

On Tuesday, the Oversight and Government Reform Committee, chaired by Rep. Henry Waxman, D-Calif., will hold a hearing on possible political interference with the work of federal climate change scientists.

Rep. Edolphus Towns, D-N.Y., chairman of a House Government Oversight and Reform subcommittee on government management, organization and procurement, said his panel will be looking at major agency procurements to determine whether or not the government received "the best bang for the buck."

-Daniel Pulliam, GovExec.com


Friday, January 26, 2007

Policy Analyst/E-Government Portfolio Manager position open at OMB

OMB has advertised a Policy Analyst/E-Government Portfolio Manager position on USAJobs. This position is located in OMB’s Office of E-Government and Information Technology. The announcement closes on March 16, 2007. We are hoping to attract applicants with a wide variety of perspective and experience. Click here to view the announcement.

Refer any questions to:

Velma McClure
Office of Administration
Executive Office of the President
(202) 395-1088

Monday, January 22, 2007

Rep. Towns: Restructuring could fix some agencies' operations

Rep. Edolphus Towns (D-N.Y.), new chairman of a House oversight subcommittee, today said the federal government may need to restructure some agencies so they run more efficiently.

The government struggles to run smoothly, with its disjointed programs and stovepipe systems, said Towns, chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee’s subcommittee on Government Management, Organization and Procurement. In an interview with Federal Computer Week, he said his subcommittee will dig into those problems to find solutions to save taxpayers’ dollars.

“Many [agencies] are broken, and they need to be fixed,” Towns said. “That’s what we’re going to be about.”

Mathew Weigelt, FCW.com


AGA Comments on Federal Financial Management Structure

AGA's Financial Management Standards Board (FMSB) sent comments on the exposure draft about the Federal Financial Management Common Government-wide Accounting Classification Structure (CGAC structure) issued by the Financial Systems Integration Office (FSIO). The FMSB stated that it "agreed with the concept of standardizing the CGAC structure because it will foster universal understanding among users; ease transition to new systems and software; and aid in aggregation and comparison of data across the government."

The Jan. 19 letter went on to say, "Overall, the committee and their support contractors have done an excellent job in identifying current data inconsistencies in financial systems and have proposed an excellent set of suggestions for standardizing what can be standardized in financial systems." —FMSB. Read the entire letter or view the CGAC Comment Template.

Evans: HSPD-12 program is not an unfunded mandate for agencies

The Office of Management and Budget and the information technology industry disagree about whether aspects of the Homeland Security Presidential Directive 12 (HSPD-12) program are being properly funded.

By Oct. 27, federal agencies must issue digital credentials to all employees who have less than 15 years of service.

Vendors are worried, but OMB officials sound confident that agencies can pay for the mandatory personal identity verification program, known as HSPD-12.
“It’s not an unfunded mandate,” said Karen Evans, administrator of e-government and IT at OMB. “When [agencies] tell you that, that’s not true.”

Evans said agencies can restructure their major investments to pay for HSPD-12, which OMB has designated as a priority program. Agency officials are recategorizing their portfolios to reflect the new priority, Evans said.

A number of agency chief information officers agreed with Evans’ assessment that HSPD-12 does not put agencies in a difficult financial spot.

-Wade-Hahn Chan, FCW.com


Friday, January 19, 2007

Today's GAO Report

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

Budget Issues:
FEMA Needs Adequate Data, Plans, and Systems to Effectively Manage Resources for Day-to-Day Operations.
GAO-07-139, January 19.
Highlights - http://www.gao.gov/highlights/d07139high.pdf

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Strategies for User Performance Management

Strategies for User Performance Management: Reporting, Measurement, and Analytics

Live Webcast: Tuesday, February 6, 2007
12:00 noon ET / 11:00 a.m. CT10:00 a.m. MT / 9:00 a.m. PT

Join SAP experts Mark Tarallo, Scott Christensen, and Amy Feldman and Thad Eidman, CEO for Knoa Software Inc., in this lively interchange showing you how you can build ROI from your SAP application faster.

This lively roundtable will address topics such as:
  • What is the relationship between pre-training user testing and post-testing and actual user performance?
  • Has your training program actually improved user performance?
  • Are your key business processes that require tracking for policy or regulatory needs being performed in a compliant manner?
  • Are end users effectively and efficiently executing critical SAP business processes?

OMB checks progress on HSPD-12

The Office of Management and Budget has asked agencies to report on their progress toward issuing new employee identity cards, according to a recent memorandum.

By Jan. 19, agencies need to provide the General Services Administration with a sample credential so GSA can test it for possible problems. If problems are found, the agency must correct them within three weeks, according to the memo.

Starting March 1, agencies must report quarterly on their Web sites how many credentials they have issued.

The memo also states that IDs for employees working at the agency more than 15 years may be delayed until Oct. 27, 2008, but agencies must finish background checks on all other employees and contractors by Oct. 27, 2007.

-Mathew Weigelt, FCW.com

Commentary: A new report card

Guide tells how to assess financial services
Following are edited excerpts of a Jan. 3 draft report, “Financial Services Assessment Guide,” from the Financial Systems Integration Office proposing metrics for assessing how well agencies run their financial systems. FSIO reports to the Office of Management and Budget but is located in the General Services Administration.

The financial management line of business, in collaboration with the federal financial management community, is establishing financial services metrics to assess financial services governmentwide. These metrics are designed to help identify opportunities to improve the performance and affordability of financial services provided by shared service providers and federal agencies. [Shared service providers are agencies or private companies that provide back-room functions to several agencies, under OMB’s lines of business initiative, an effort to cut costs by consolidating information technology systems across agencies.]
The financial services metrics will:
  • Enable shared service providers to make more informed judgments regarding the performance and affordability of the financial services they provide, and how they compare to their competitors.
  • Enable agencies to make more informed judgments regarding the performance and affordability of the financial services they provide in-house, how they compare with other agencies, and which shared service provider might best serve their needs as they look at service options under the financial management line of business framework.
  • Enable stakeholders, including the Chief Financial Officers’ Council, Office of Management and Budget, and financial management line of business, to make more informed judgments regarding the financial performance of shared service providers and agencies, and work with both on strategies to improve performance and affordability.
By making shared service provider and agency performance more transparent, establishing accountability for improved results, and increasing competition among shared service providers, both shared service providers and agencies will be encouraged to improve financial services.
Performance metrics will be implemented using a phased approach. Phase I will focus on defining and collecting an initial set of high-value, low-burden metrics. Detailed descriptions of each Phase I metric will be agreed to in upcoming workshops and included in the final release of the Phase I Service Assessment Guide. Phase II will focus on refining these metrics, collecting an expanded set of metrics, improving reporting capabilities and accountability mechanisms, and streamlining the collection effort.
All agencies will be required to report performance data through a single system managed by the Financial Systems Integration Office.
By May 1, shared service providers and agencies must report data for March for the Phase I metrics. Data for subsequent months must be reported within 30 days after the end of the reporting period.
Phase I metrics:
  • System availability. Measures the hours a system is available as a proportion of hours it is contractually obligated to be available.
  • Call closure rate. Measures time between the opening of an incident and its final closure.
  • Restoration time for hosting-caused outages.
  • Time elapsed since data was previously backed up, to be compared with the backup interval required according to the agency’s service standards.
  • Number of server shutdowns, such that users were unable to use the financial management system applications.
  • Number of security incidents within the past year. Totals incidents involving improper login into the servers, unauthorized access to data, or unauthorized activities performed on the system server.
  • Average time to restore mission-critical application functionality following an application failure.
  • Average report production time.
  • Planned downtime. Measures planned periods of system unavailability, during otherwise scheduled available time.
  • Average response time of security administrators to user access requests.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Federal Financial Management Conference - March 13, 2007

The Federal Financial Management Conference sponsored by the JFMIP Principals and the Financial Systems Integration Office (FSIO), U.S. General Services Administration (GSA) will be held on Tuesday, March 13, 2007 at the Renaissance Hotel in Washington, DC.

The theme of the conference is "Striving for World Class Financial Performance".

Click here for more information

Friday, January 12, 2007

Auditors find Customs, Border agency violated financial rules

U.S. Customs and Border Protection broke three laws and regulations related to financial management during fiscal 2006, according to an audit report released earlier this week.

Auditor KPMG found that CBP did not comply with the 2002 Federal Information Security Management Act, the 1996 Federal Financial Management Improvement Act and the 2002 Improper Payments Information Act, the Homeland Security Department's inspector general stated.

The IG criticized CBP's financial reporting and said the agency's problems "could have a direct and material effect" on future financial statements.

The report, which covered September 2005 through September 2006, called for multiple management improvements.

"The most significant weaknesses from a financial statement audit perspective relate to information security," KPMG stated. "Collectively, the IT control weaknesses limit CBP's ability to ensure that critical financial and operational data is maintained in such a manner to ensure confidentiality, integrity and availability."

To comply with the improper payments law, CBP must derive estimates for all programs where erroneous payments might have occurred and report them to the White House and Congress, along with plans to reduce such incidents, the report stated. And to be compliant with FFMIA, the agency must ensure it follows "federal financial management systems requirements, applicable federal accounting standards, and the United States Government Standard General Ledger at the transaction level."

In a response to the report, CBP Chief Financial Officer Eugene Schied said "some of these conditions may take several years to correct." He said he agreed with the assessment that laws and regulations were violated through "noncompliance."

-Jonathan Marino, GovExec.com


mySAP ERP Upgrade Symposium

Register today for the ASUG mySAP ERP Upgrade Symposium on February 21-22, 2007 in Denver, CO and learn how to make your upgrade more efficient, organized and manageable. Share tips, tricks and strategies for managing your project team and the entire upgrade process from planning to execution.

Don’t miss this chance to ensure that your upgrades’ functional and technical components are in synch. Gain the tools you need to manage the value of your upgrade by registering your entire upgrade team today. Reserve your room at the Hyatt Regency Denver at the Colorado Convention Center, and stay in the heart of the action!

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Skinner: CBP financial reporting plagued by problems

IT control vulnerabilities are a material weakness in the financial reporting systems of the Bureau of Customs and Border Protection, according to a new independent audit released by Homeland Security Department Inspector General Richard L. Skinner.

The audit identified two material weaknesses, including the one related to IT. It also described several other reportable conditions and discovered noncompliance with the Federal Information Security Management Act of 2002, Federal Financial Management Improvement Act of 1996 and the Improper Payments Information Act of 2002.

For the IT control weakness, despite actions by the customs agency to correct previously identified inadequacies in its IT systems, there still exist vulnerabilities.

“During FY2006, we continued to find IT general and application control weaknesses at Customs and Border Protection,” the audit states. The most significant weaknesses relate to information security, it said.

The other material weakness involves refunds of various revenues collected through the Automated Commercial System. The agency collects duties, taxes and fees from importers. The automated system lacks the proper controls to prevent excessive or improper refunds, the audit said.

The independent accounting firm KPMG LLP of New York audited the fiscal 2006 consolidated financial statements.

-Alice Lipowicz, WashingtonTechnology.com

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

OMB issues updated EA documents

As agencies develop their fiscal 2008 budget requests over the next few months, the Office of Management and Budget’s Federal Enterprise Architecture Program Management Office recently delivered a number of updated documents to make that process easier — or at least run more smoothly.

OMB published the latest version of the Federal Transition Framework with 15 new cross-agency initiatives for a total of 18. The FTF gives agencies a standard way to describe cross-agency initiatives, and makes sharing that information easier. While agencies will not have to use the FTF until the 2009 budget cycle, it does provide a single source of information describing these areas, said Dick Burk, OMB’s chief architect in a letter to agency CIOs and chief architects.

Burk’s office also released the new EA assessment guide, which will be used as a part of the 2008 budget process, and a FEA Practice Guide. The Practice Guide suggests techniques for CIOs and architects to describe how their architecture can provide business and mission value to non-IT people.

The EA Assessment Version 2.1 is more of an update than a full revision, Burk said in another letter to agency CIOs and chief architects.

Agencies have until Feb. 28 to submit their EAs so OMB can assess them under the new framework. OMB will score agencies’ EA and include the results in the second-quarter President’s Management Agenda scorecard, Burk said.

Additionally, OMB issued a revised consolidated FEA reference model that includes information on all five models — Business, Technical, Performance, Data and Service Component.

FTF Version 1.0 follows a pilot version OMB released in September. The initial version focused only on three cross-agency initiatives — the move to IP version 6, E-Authentication and the IT infrastructure Line of Business Consolidation initiative. The newest version adds 15 new projects, including all eight LOBs, such as human resources and financial management, and the Integrated Acquisition Environment, Information Sharing Environment and Grants.gov portal.

For each initiative, the FTF provides a standard way of describing each project based on the each FEA reference model.

-Jason Miller, GCN.com


Monday, January 08, 2007

E-gov progress report

With 25 e-government initiatives and nine Lines of Businesses, the Office of Management and Budget’s efforts to improve how agencies deliver services have had their share of ups and downs. Between the ongoing debate on the Hill to secure funding for the projects to the consistent effort to turn the proverbial cultural battleship, OMB administrator for e-government and IT Karen Evans, associate administrator Tim Young and the staff of five portfolio managers continue to increase their expectations on the quality of results the projects produce.

GCN editorial director Wyatt Kash and assistant managing editor for news Jason Miller sat down with Evans; Young; Jeff Koch, Internal Efficiency and Effectiveness portfolio manager; Andrew Ciafardini, Government-to-Citizen portfolio manager; Wendy Liberante, Government-to-Business portfolio manager; and Carol Bales, E-Authentication portfolio manager, to discuss the progress agencies have made so far and what their plans are for year six of the administration’s e-government effort.

-Wyatt Kash and Jason Miller, GCN.com


GSA schedules a place for HR line of business

In a move that underscores how the Human Resources Line of Business is maturing, the General Services Administration will establish a place on its HR schedule for commercial shared-services providers.

GSA plans to release a statement of objectives next month, and name private-sector providers by the summer.

Under an agreement with the Office of Personnel Management, GSA plans to expand the existing 738x schedule, said Norm Enger, OPM’s director of the Human Resources Line of Business Program Management Office.

The schedule already comprises contractors for human resources services and investigative and reporting services for Equal Employment Opportunity compliance. “Plans are to complete the selection of private-sector HR LOB shared-services centers by summer 2007,” he said.

The Federal Acquisition Service will administer the procurement.

Under the HR LOB schedule, vendors will perform services to certain governmental minimum standards, said Robert Lam, an executive director at Accenture LLP of Reston, Va.

GSA will release a statement of objectives in early February as a heads-up to industry and an RFP in mid to late March, said John Sindelar, GSA’s soon-to-be-retired associate administrator of the Office of Governmentwide Policy.

OMB has named five agencies to provide shared services: the Treasury, Defense and Health and Human Services departments, the Interior Department’s National Business Center and the Agriculture Department’s National Finance Center.

“We’re seeing a lot of activity in this area [HR LOB],” Lam said.

For example, the Labor Department recently released an RFP for a public or private shared-services provider to replace its current HR and payroll systems with integrated applications.

Unlike the HR LOB, federal officials still are trying to figure out the best way of proceeding with the Financial Management Line of Business.

“It could very well be similar to HR LOB. I’m not sure that the FM LOB acquisitions plan has been documented or brought to fruition. It’s not quite as far along as the HR LOB,” Lam said.

-Mary Mosquera, GCN.com


Nominations Due for Scantlebury Awards

The U.S. General Services Administration's Financial Systems Integration Office (FSIO) is soliciting nominations for the Donald L. Scantlebury Memorial Awards for distinguished leadership in financial management improvements.

The brochure contains the selection criteria and other instructions concerning this prestigious award. If you have any questions, please e-mail Doris Chew, CGFM. Nominations are due by Jan. 12, 2007. The Joint Financial Management Improvement Program principals will present the awards on March 13.

Sunday, January 07, 2007

OMB establishes draft metrics for financial services

The Office of Management and Budget released an exposure draft of 10 metrics to assess financial services across government as part of the Financial Management Line of Business. The metrics are meant to identify areas to improve the performance and affordability of financial services that shared-services providers and agencies supply.

OMB established the metrics in collaboration with the Financial Systems Integration Office and the financial-management community. The measures support provisions in the migration planning guidance from OMB and FSIO in September to help agencies determine how to move to the Financial Management Line of Business.

Agencies will assess the Phase I metrics, including system availability, call closure rate and restoration time for hosting-caused outages, initially for March and report that data by May 1. Agencies must report data for subsequent months within 30 days of the end of the reporting period. Phase 1 will build a baseline of performance and lessons for subsequent phases.

Agencies will report performance data through a single system that FSIO manages. The data will be available as appropriate to OMB, the Chief Financial Officers Council, shared-services providers, agencies and possibly the public.

As this effort progresses, reports will provide performance trends, distinguish top performers from poor performers, and identify areas for improvement and for corrective actions as needed.

For shared-services providers, the metrics support more informed judgments about the performance and affordability of the services they provide. For agencies, the metrics help agencies make decisions about the performance and cost of the financial services they provide in-house, how they compare with other agencies and which service provider best meets their needs.

OMB will update the performance measures for IT infrastructure hosting and administration and application management services in the second phase. It will add a limited set of metrics for systems implementation and business process areas, along with lessons learned from the initial phase of assessments.

Agencies and shared-services providers can comment until Jan. 19.

-Mary Mosquera, GCN.com


IG concerned about GPO transformation

The Government Printing Office faces numerous technology challenges in the year ahead, according to the agency's inspector general.

In fact, four of GPO's 10 top management objectives listed in a recent report have a strong information technology element. The GPO’s semiannual report to Congress, covering a time span from April 1 to Sept. 30, points to a number of IT initiatives as central to its modernization. The report, however, also questions the agency’s ability to obtain the technology it needs.

“[W]e have also become increasingly concerned with the agency’s ability to efficiently and effectively acquire the high-technology goods and services necessary to transform to a 21st century information processing and disseminating operation,” states the report.

GPO’s IT-oriented management objectives include the improvement of financial management. GPO seeks to migrate its current financial and business systems to an integrated system based on Oracle enterprise applications. “Investment in the integrated system presents both great opportunities for enhanced efficiency and cost savings, and significant risk in the event the system does not meet user requirements,” the report states.

The IG, working with a consultant, identified several vulnerabilities in the Oracle initiative. Among the concerns were inadequate staffing, lack of performance metrics, and lack of “an effective method to manage program progress.”

-John Moore, FCW.com


GSA to manage contracts for consolidating personnel systems

The General Services Administration has taken over the acquisition portion of an effort to consolidate human resources systems across government.

The HR consolidation is part of a broader Bush administration effort to make agencies move to shared back-end information technology systems in several areas. GSA's new role, established in a memorandum of understanding signed Dec. 19, marks a major shift in how the administration is implementing the effort.

Office of Personnel Management spokesman Peter Graves said OPM is still the managing partner for the HR project and is responsible for setting the requirements for shared service providers. The private sector providers GSA will select would supplement the five government agencies that currently serve as shared providers.

One government official familiar with the matter, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said the move will allow OPM to focus on setting up the contents of the program rather than the acquisition element.

Starting next week, GSA officials will "work out the nuts and bolts of the acquisition strategy with OPM," a GSA spokesman said.

Originally, OPM officials said they would release a request for proposals for prospective private sector providers sometime in 2006 and make awards by the end of the year. But that never materialized.

According to a GSA spokesman, a notice will be published on FedBizOpps on Jan. 20 containing more information about the contracting process. On Jan. 30, a draft statement of objectives, along with the pre-certification requirements, will be published.

A question and answer session for prospective bidders is scheduled for Feb. 14, and on March 1, responses to questions that come up in that session will be published on FedBizOpps.
Offers will be due on April 15; GSA will finish evaluating them on June 30.

The GSA spokesman said the agency may consider moving to a similar acquisition strategy for the financial management line of business, but cannot discuss the details since the Office of Management and Budget is still completing a review.

Daniel Pulliam, GovExec.com


House appropriators to gain two subcommittees

Incoming House Appropriations Chairman David Obey, D-Wis., is set to announce the new structure and Democratic membership of the prestigious panel for the 110th Congress later this week, including subcommittee chairmen.

The committee reorganization was made formal in a document distributed to panel members this week, according to a Democratic aide who has seen it.

Senate Appropriations Chairman Robert Byrd, D-W.Va., is largely on board with the plan, sources said; his panel is also expected to organize this week, although his office could not be reached for comment by presstime.

According to the aide, Obey plans to expand the number of subcommittees from 10 to 12, creating a new Financial Services Subcommittee with sweeping jurisdiction and restoring the old Legislative Branch panel as a separate subcommittee.

-Peter Cohn, GovExec.com


Defense IG finds major flaws in contracts issued via Treasury

A recent Defense inspector general investigation into interagency purchases placed through the Treasury Department's FedSource program uncovered major problems, including inadequate competition.

Every award examined by the IG was flawed. Other problems included missing contracting agreements, insufficient price documentation and a lack of market research.

Defense auditors also identified 21 potential violations of the Anti-Deficiency Act, which bars spending in excess of available resources. These included funds being kept after the end of the year for which they were appropriated, and spending from the wrong accounts for particular projects.

Despite these findings, the IG's report did not advocate cutting off Defense purchases through FedSource. Rather, it urged Defense officials to ensure that acquisition planning is carried out, interagency agreements are signed and funds are monitored through regular reporting.

The IG recommended that the Defense comptroller de-obligate $19.6 million in prior-year funds being held by Treasury's contracting shop. The department's acting deputy chief financial officer, in official comments, said such a move already was under way.

Auditors also suggested that the Defense CFO work with Treasury officials to set up a system to monitor interagency contracts in a way that would yield regular reports on uncommitted fund balances, amounts obligated and expended, expired funds, and service fees paid. The CFO office said implementation of that recommendation also was under way.

The report was produced under a requirement in the fiscal 2006 Defense Authorization Act that called on the IG to work with its counterparts at Treasury, the Interior Department, the General Services Administration and NASA to assess interagency purchasing through those agencies.

-Jenny Mandel, GovExec.com


Saturday, January 06, 2007

Government Reform gets a new moniker

House Democrats, looking to send a subtle message about their priorities, have changed the name of the Government Reform committee.

The new name, according to new House rules, is now the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, a name was used during the 1990s.

Committee Chairman Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) has pushed in the past for more in-depth oversight of the Bush administration. Among other reform bills, he introduced contracting oversight legislation in the previous Congress. He also headed a group called the House Democratic Waste, Fraud and Abuse Truth Squad.

Announcements from other committee chairmen have signaled the coming emphasis on oversight as well.

Waxman believed Republicans failed in the task of watching the administration's actions, a former Republican committee staff member said. The name change "reflects the fact that he is going to do more oversight than the Republicans ever did," he said.

-Mathew Weigelt, FCW.com

Thursday, January 04, 2007

NASA's Upgraded Financial Management System Takes Flight

Accenture has completed the upgrade of the financial system for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), which supports the operations of the Agency's $16.5 billion budget and 18,000-person workforce. This marks the first upgrade to the SAP ERP2005 financial platform in the US Federal government marketplace.

The upgraded solution provides NASA with an enhanced technical architecture and improved financial management data tracking, reporting and data integrity and also helps streamline the agency's funds distribution, year-end processing and overall funds control. The system upgrade builds on the successful core financial implementation, affecting more than 10,000 end users across NASA, including those at 10 field centers, Jet Propulsion Lab (JPL) and the NASA Shared Services Center (NSSC).

"The launch of the upgraded financial system should help improve NASA's financial performance for years to come," said Steve Shane, managing director of Accenture's North America Government operating unit. "The Core Financial system now in place provides the agency with unprecedented capabilities for improving decision-making, cost management, and online information sharing."

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Gates' Iraq focus could impede modernization at DOD

When Robert Gates is sworn in Dec. 18 as the 22nd defense secretary, he will inherit a department facing unprecedented challenges at home and abroad. President Bush nominated Gates to chart a new course for the Iraq strategy, but his accession will affect all parts of the Defense Department as it struggles to transform itself amid increasing budget pressures.

Gates has revealed little information on how he plans to manage DOD, but defense experts and others agree that he will need to balance future priorities against current ones while building a consensus inside the military and satisfying new congressional leaders.

In the areas of transformation, civil service reform and business systems modernization, Gates has signaled his intention to continue on the course set by former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, which means transforming the military into lighter, mobile forces that rely on information and communications technology.

“Transformation holds the promise to ensure that our military forces are more agile and lethal when confronting the enemies of this new century,” he wrote in a 65-page questionnaire for the Senate Armed Services Committee.But in his congressional testimony, Gates deflected questions from both sides of the aisle on how he would deal with DOD’s financial management problems.

Gates also told Congress he will allow DOD’s fiscal 2008 budget process to continue as is. He said he will abide by Congress’ direction to fund known costs of the war through the regular budget rather than supplemental budget requests.

-Josh Rogin, FCW.com


DHS urged to step up oversight of cash advances on grants

The Homeland Security Department needs to beef up oversight of cash advances provided to some first responder grant recipients, according to a recent Government Accountability Office report.

"DHS currently lacks the policies and procedures to track and report on specific cases of cash advance funding," and must begin "critical" oversight, concluded the report (GAO-07-68), issued in late December. Stronger oversight is necessary in part to make sure interest due on the cash advances is recorded and paid on time, GAO stated.

Lawmakers gave DHS the option to provide cash advances to some grant recipients beginning in fiscal 2005, after local government officials called for more flexibility in the grants award process. Certain first responder grantees can now get advance funding "and hold such funds for extended periods of time prior to payment," the report said.

Under an exemption to the 1990 Cash Management Improvement Act, the advances are not subject to the Treasury Department's oversight, the report said.

GAO said the department may need to limit advances: "Providing cash advance funding on a case-by-case basis could enable DHS to focus its oversight efforts on those specific state grantees and local government and other subgrantees that demonstrate a need for such funding."

Regardless, the department needs to "provide proper oversight" of its cash advances, the report stated.

GAO offered seven recommendations for accomplishing this, including that DHS identify issues that slow the distribution of grant money; determine the related impact on grantees, develop policies to better handle cash advance funding and remove obstacles that prevent some grantees from receiving their checks.

-Jonathan Marino, GovExec.com


DHS urged to step up oversight of cash advances on grants

The Homeland Security Department needs to beef up oversight of cash advances provided to some first responder grant recipients, according to a recent Government Accountability Office report.

"DHS currently lacks the policies and procedures to track and report on specific cases of cash advance funding," and must begin "critical" oversight, concluded the report (GAO-07-68), issued in late December. Stronger oversight is necessary in part to make sure interest due on the cash advances is recorded and paid on time, GAO stated.

Lawmakers gave DHS the option to provide cash advances to some grant recipients beginning in fiscal 2005, after local government officials called for more flexibility in the grants award process. Certain first responder grantees can now get advance funding "and hold such funds for extended periods of time prior to payment," the report said.

Under an exemption to the 1990 Cash Management Improvement Act, the advances are not subject to the Treasury Department's oversight, the report said.

GAO said the department may need to limit advances: "Providing cash advance funding on a case-by-case basis could enable DHS to focus its oversight efforts on those specific state grantees and local government and other subgrantees that demonstrate a need for such funding."

Regardless, the department needs to "provide proper oversight" of its cash advances, the report stated.

GAO offered seven recommendations for accomplishing this, including that DHS identify issues that slow the distribution of grant money; determine the related impact on grantees, develop policies to better handle cash advance funding and remove obstacles that prevent some grantees from receiving their checks.


NASA completes financial systems upgrade

Accenture announced today it has completed the upgrade of NASA’s financial system, which manages the agency’s $16.5 billion budget and 18,000-person workforce.

According to the technology services and outsourcing company, NASA is the first federal agency to install the SAP ERP 2005 financial platform, which gives the space agency an improved technical architecture and better financial data tracking and reporting capabilities. Accenture said it also helps streamline the agency’s distribution of funds and aids in year-end funds processing and overall fiscal management.

No financial details of the installation were released.

The system upgrade affects more than 10,000 users throughout NASA, including those at 10 field centers, the Jet Propulsion Laboratory and the NASA Shared Services Center.

-David Hubler, FCW.com


Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Federal Financial Management is the Most Read Topic of 2006

Today's eNewsletter from FCW.com caught my attention because of the spotlight on the "Most-read stories of 2006". All five of the stories listed concerned Federal Financial Management and Performance Based Management topics. The list included:

OMB Web site lists federal program ratings
[FCW.com, Feb. 6, 2006] ExpectMore.gov provides clear evaluations of programs.

Property of the U.S. government
[Federal Computer Week, May 8, 2006] As attitudes about property management shift, agencies and IT rush to catch up.

Platts: Financial management business line needs clear rules
[FCW.com, June 29, 2006] Some members of Congress asked for better explanations of what a shared service center is and how OMB designates one.

Congress questions financial management consolidation
[Federal Computer Week, March 20, 2006] OMB called to answer for lack of guidance on shared services initiative.

DHS looks for new financial management plan
[Federal Computer Week, April 3, 2006] Following collapse of EMERGE2, department needs a new strategy, officials say.

CIOs find SLAs effective

Most chief information officers find service-level agreements to be an effective tool for measuring the quality of services information technology organizations provide, according to a survey released today. As a result, outsourcing IT services is an increasingly attractive option because CIOs can be confident the SLAs provide accurate information on the performance of contractors.

The survey, conducted by IDG Research Services Group, included 133 CIOs and IT executives. The report, however, does not specify how many were in government positions or the private sector.

Among the findings:
  • 69 percent said SLAs are an effective tool for measuring IT service.
  • 57 percent said they meet their SLA goals 75 percent of the time, while 23 percent claim 100 percent compliance. Only 7 percent reported meeting the targets less than half of the time.
  • 51 percent said SLAs are moderately effective at measuring data protection services, while 16 percent found them to be very effective.

Because SLAs provide some degree of accountability for service providers, agencies can think more freely about outsourcing IT functions, according to some experts cited in the survey report.

-Michael Hardy, FCW.com


Monday, January 01, 2007

Happy Anniversary FedCFO.com!

January 1, 2007 - FedCFO.com enters its 3rd year of providing links to news content relevant to the Federal Financial Management community of agencies, vendors, and integrators.

FedCFO.com has experienced significant growth in our audience in the past two years. We have posted 705 entries to this site since January 1, 2005, with content sources including: GAO, OMB, U.S. Congress, Executive Branch Agencies and Departments, Association of Government Accountants, GovExec.com, FCW.com, GCN.com, FederalTimes.com, and many more. Additionally, a custom Google search engine was developed to support queries for relevant content from the same sources.

FedCFO has experienced nearly 17,000 page views in the past two years, and the average visitor spends 10:57 minutes reading the posts on this site.

Thank you to all that have shown support for this site.

In celebrating this site's anniversary, we would like to draw visitors attention to two charities of very worthty cause that we would like you to consider in your charitable contributions in the new year.

Holly's Fund and
The Yellow Ribbon Fund
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