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Friday, August 31, 2007

FederalNewsRadio - Ask the CFO - Sheila Conley (HHS)

Sheila Conley - Deputy Assistant Secretary for Finance and Deputy Chief Financial Officer

In the case of HHS, big might be an understatement. Conley says the department trails only the Department of Defense when it comes to net costs in government. And if you're looking for a fair comparison in the private sector, good luck. Conley says even the biggest of the Fortune 500 pale in comparison. Only, thanks to A-123, she says the department has changed the way everyone stays in touch, going from quarterly meetings to monthly meetings with a Risk Management and Financial Oversight Board, which includes members of the department's most senior leadership. She says, as a result, it has been easier to identify best practices within the various agencies and apply them department-wide. Conley also talks about improvements in the oversight of Medicare and Medicade, and about going from red to yellow on improper payments on the PMA scorecard.

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Thursday, August 30, 2007

GSA seeks approaches for financial management systems

The General Services Administration seeks information to develop testing and evaluation strategies related to selecting commercial shared-service providers for the Financial Management Line of Business consolidation initiative. The testing strategies would ensure that financial management systems are implemented efficiently and meet core system and agency-defined requirements.

The strategies would be used to assess the financial software selection and evaluate the capabilities and proposed applications of the shared-service provider, GSA said in a request for information posted Aug. 27. Responses are due Sept. 21.

The initiative aims to establish a framework for financial management solutions that are efficient and improve business performance while ensuring integrity in accountability, financial controls and effectiveness. GSA hopes to achieve process improvements and cost savings, standardize business processes and data elements, promote seamless data exchange among agencies, and strengthen internal controls.

Agencies will compete their financial management systems among private and federal shared-service providers, which will provide information technology hosting, application management and system implementation services to agencies. Each shared-service provider will provide those services to multiple agencies using a common application to reduce the redundant approaches currently used.

The long-term objective for the initiative is to standardize core financial business processes and financial data. Agencies will adopt standard business processes as they migrate to new financial management systems.

-Mary Mosquera, FCW.com


Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Treasury names Justice IT official as CIO

The Treasury Department has named Michael Duffy, deputy CIO of e-government at the Justice Department, its new chief information officer. He will start Sept. 10, a Treasury spokeswoman said.

Duffy has led development of the Integrated Wireless Network, which Justice is building in partnership with Treasury and the Homeland Security Department to improve information sharing among those agencies nationwide. He also manages Justice’s e-government program and coordinates departmentwide policy for information technology.

Duffy has held other senior IT management positions at Justice, including director of telecommunications, director of information management and security, and program manager of the Justice Consolidated Office Network.

Ed Roback, Treasury’s first associate CIO for cybersecurity, has been acting CIO in addition to his security duties since Ira Hobbs retired in January.

Duffy will report to Peter McCarthy, Treasury’s assistant secretary for management and chief financial officer, who started in that position earlier this month.

-Mary Mosquera, FCW.com


Tuesday, August 28, 2007

GSA Releases FMLOB Testing Strategy RFI

The General Services Administration (GSA) is requesting information in an effort to develop testing and evaluation strategies related to selecting commercial shared service providers (SSP) for the Financial Management Line of Business (FMLoB) Initiative.

The objective of this Request for Information (RFI) is to obtain information on testing strategies from all interested businesses (large and small) to ensure that financial management systems are implemented efficiently and meet all of the Financial Systems Integration Office (FSIO) core system and agency defined requirements. Responses to this RFI will assist the Government in determining acquisition strategies for the Federal Government at large.

Vendors are requested to submit responses no later than 4:30 P.M. Eastern Time, September 21, 2007. The responses from this RFI may be used to assist the Government in developing evaluation criteria for a future procurement.

Today's GAO Publication

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

Financial Audit Manual: Volume Three, August 2007.
GAO-07-1173G, August 28

Monday, August 27, 2007

OMB, CIO Council issue architecture principles

The Office of Management and Budget and the CIO Council released today a new framework that underpins many of the Bush administration’s core management tenets.

The Architecture Principles for the U.S. Government defines what is important to the administration, said Karen Evans, OMB’s administrator for e-government and information technology.

“These principles balance department and agency mandates on the one hand and governmentwide interests on the other,” wrote Evans, also the council’s director, and Dave Wennergren, Defense Department deputy chief information officer and vice chairman of the council, in an e-mail message to CIOs. “Clear, well-understood and sanctioned principles, combined with an executive commitment to enforce them, help drive change across disparate departments and programs, and also within agencies.”

Richard Burk, OMB’s chief architect, who helped develop these principles during the past year, said that although the values may seem simplistic on the surface, the implications are deeper.

The principles include:
  • The federal government focuses on people
  • The federal government is a single unified enterprise
  • Federal agencies collaborate with other governments and people
  • The federal architecture is mission-driven
  • Security, privacy and protecting information are core government needs
  • Information is a national asset
  • The federal architecture simplifies government operations
Using these high-level principles as guidance, agency program and technical officials are expected to adopt these principles and identify agency-specific ones that express the same shared focus, Evans and Wennergren wrote.

Burk added that the principles show they are about not only technology but also how agencies deliver services to people.

-Jason Miller, FCW.com


Thursday, August 23, 2007

FederalNewsRadio - Ask the CFO - George Schutter (PC)

US Peace Corps

George Schutter - Chief Financial Officer

Keeping the books can be a challenge when you are in 73 countries at once. Schutter says having an integrated planning and budgeting system in place makes all the difference in the world. He says the Peace Corps system has matured to the point where financial information can be seen almost in real-time, making it easier to adjust on the fly. An added benefit is that the system has allowed the Peace Corps to make financial accountability part of the mission, from IT folks at headquarters to posts half a world away. As a result, Schutter says after years of audit disclaimers and a qualified audit opinion last year, the Peace Corps is set to go after its first unqualified audit opinion. Another key challenge at the Peace Corps -- finding the best way to measure results. It's one thing to measure "output" from the efforts of the Peace Corps and its volunteers. It's another to measure the impact on the communities that have been helped.

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Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Progress cited on NASA business systems modernization

NASA is chipping away at potential problems facing its new system to manage contracts and other business processes, according to a Government Accountability Office report released Monday.
NASA's contract management has been a GAO-classified area of high risk since 1990. The agency began the Integrated Enterprise Management Program (IEMP) systems modernization initiative in April 2000 to improve handling of contracts and other business processes. IEMP includes the creation of a core financial tool and systems to monitor contract spending, assets and human resources.

The report (GAO-07-691) concluded that NASA has made "significant strides" to develop and implement better business management. But auditors also identified areas of concern. GAO determined that despite progress, NASA needs to return to basics and address weaknesses in scheduling and requirements development before moving forward.

GAO has issued periodic reports on the progress of NASA's financial management improvement efforts at the request of Reps. Bart Gordon, D-Tenn., chairman of the House Science and Technology Committee, and Todd Platts, R-Pa. The last report on the modernization was released in September 2005.

GAO recognized the project as an avenue for major improvement to NASA's business management, but cautioned that neglecting best practices early in the process could cause problems during implementation and future upgrades.

-Elizabeth Newell, GovExec.com


Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Former OPM employees plead guilty to stealing $27,000

Two accounting technicians who formerly worked at the Office of Personnel Management pleaded guilty late last week to stealing more than $27,000 from the government.
According to the guilty pleas entered in the Washington, D.C., U.S. District Court, the two technicians diverted federal funds into private accounts between July 2006 and January 2007.

They worked together to steal $27,510, a statement from U.S. Attorney Jeffrey Taylor indicated. The two admitted that they "knowingly and willfully acted without authority or permission," the statement said.

The former OPM employees will be sentenced on Nov. 2, and face up to 10 years in prison.

Taylor said the likely sentence is "six months in jail, home confinement and/or probation."
When the theft came to OPM's attention, the agency turned the investigation over to its inspector general, Patrick McFarland. OPM cooperated with the short investigation, which led to the guilty pleas.

-Anika Gupta, GovExec.com


Monday, August 20, 2007

Today's GAO Publication

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

Business Modernization: NASA Must Consider Agencywide Needs to Reap the Full Benefits of Its Enterprise Management System Modernization Effort.
GAO-07-691, July 20.
Highlights - http://www.gao.gov/highlights/d07691high.pdf

Friday, August 17, 2007

Perfect Pitch

With the IT Infrastructure Optimization Initiative, OMB strives to fine-tune a systems approach for needs that cross agency boundaries.

Adriving objective of the Office of E-Government and Information Technology has been to save money and improve operations by moving agencies to shared solutions for cross-agency needs.

The Office of Management and Budget first addressed this objective with its Quicksilver projects, which attempted to use the best existing government capabilities to provide shared services. OMB then introduced its Line of Business initiatives, further maturing and focusing the process of moving agencies to shared services. The LOBs remain the current focus for this campaign.

In the president’s fiscal 2008 budget proposal, OMB formally introduced its latest LOB, the IT Infrastructure Optimization Initiative. IOI aims to help agencies tackle some of the foundational systems complexities in expanding shared services.

The vision for the IOI LOB is an optimized and cost-effective governmentwide IT infrastructure that supports agencies’ core missions and customer-centric services.

Centers of excellence and shared-services providers in the specific functional areas implement most of the other LOB initiatives. For example, under the Financial Management LOB, agencies are selecting an OMB-certified center of excellence to implement, host and/or run their financial operations.

For the IOI LOB, however, agencies will be driven to improve IT infrastructure cost and performance by taking actions that will move the respective agencies toward industry-average service levels and cost-effectiveness measures.


-Paul Wohlleben, Grant Thornton, Published in FedTech.com

DOD works communication issues for transformation

Communications among people, not technology, is the key to the successful transformation of Defense Department’s business systems.

“The challenge is that we have multiple systems being developed in parallel,” said Prashant Gaur, director of enterprise integration at the Defense Business Transformation Agency (BTA) at a breakfast event sponsored by Federal Sources. “How do we move them together?”

The integration of financial and logistics systems is a major goal of DOD business transformation, Gaur said, as is the consolidation and rationalization of redundant financial, logistics and human resources systems.

“The Enterprise Services Group is where it all comes together,” he added. “Communications is the key.”

Gaur said DOD’s technology model is moving toward a service-oriented architecture characterized by loosely coupled and reusable application components.

But, he added, “having lived through [enterprise resource planning] and business intelligence implementations, the issues and challenges that make these things successful remain the same: governance and data standards. Without them, you can have the best technology but it will not work. You can’t have shared services without the systems understanding the same language.”

-Peter Buxbaum, FCW.com


Thursday, August 16, 2007

FederalNewsRadio - Ask the CFO - Sallyanne Harper (GAO)

Government Accountability Office

Sallyanne Harper - Chief Financial Officer and Chief Administrative Officer

Reporting requirements and internal controls can be cumbersome and intensive. But Harper says they do not have to take you away from fulfilling your agency's mission. She says although GAO is not subject to many of those requirements, it has decided to comply with them to meet the agency's own goal of leading by example. Harper says the key at GAO has been to drive everything from its strategic plan and not to view financial reporting as a separate line of business. GAO is also getting ready to complete its transition to the Delphi financial management system, provided through the Department of Transportation Enterprise Service Center. But far from just keeping tabs on its own finances, Harper says the GAO is also concerned about the national debt, which will be so large by 2040 that a balanced budget could require raising taxes to twice that of today's levels.

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Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Commentary: Beyond data processing

Analysis contributes to better management

Before 1999, most agencies that are required to comply with the Chief Financial Officers Act received less than unqualified opinions on their annual financial statement audits. Furthermore, most took more than three months to produce those “less-than-pristine” financial statements.

Fast forward to 2006, when 19 of 24 CFO Act agencies received clean opinions on their statements and all produced their statements within 45 days after the end of the fiscal year.

Though these accomplishments are significant and should boost the American taxpayers’ confidence in our ability to manage their money, the trillion-dollar question is, what now? Worthy follow-up initiatives range from decreasing the cost of our financial systems and operations, to increasing the clarity of our annual Performance and Accountability Reports, to improving the accuracy and timeliness of our intragovernmental transactions (i.e. the Intra-Governmental Payment and Collection system). An intriguing quest for us should be the movement of our organizations away from mere data processing and toward data analysis.

Now, federal financial practitioners are moving away from being merely shepherds of the financial data assembly line. They are ensuring the cleanliness of their data by building proper controls and edits into the automated core systems that process their data. They can now turn their attention to the more important task of analyzing the data that results from the processing life cycle.


-Danny Harris, DCFO, Education Department

DHS IG: Weak internal controls put financial data at risk

The integrity of the Homeland Security Department’s financial data is at increased risk because of weak information technology internal controls related to financial management systems, the DHS Office of Inspector General has said in a report.

The report covers the IT management controls that support the department’s financial statement for fiscal 2006. Internal controls reduce the risk of error or fraud in financial reporting.

The department has excessive access to and inadequate logical security controls for its key financial applications and support systems, in addition to incorrect or ineffective application change control processes, the IG said in the report.

Many of these weaknesses may result in material errors in DHS’ financial data that are not detected in a timely manner in the normal course of business.

The IG identified more than 200 separate findings covering all DHS agencies. DHS closed about 44 percent of the prior year’s IT findings, but the IG uncovered 150 new ones through testing this year.

The IG audited the financial systems of the U.S. Citizen and Immigration Services agency, which is owned and serviced by the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency.

DHS inherited many of its component agencies’ weaknesses, including system development activities that did not incorporate strong security controls from the outset, which will take several years to fully address. Many of the larger agencies have decentralized IT and financial system support.

The fact that DHS does not have an integrated financial system with the embedded functionality required by the Office of Management and Budget is the major factor for the department’s financial management weaknesses, the IG said.

DHS outlined a plan to fix the internal control weaknesses in a response letter from Robert West, its chief information security officer. For example, the department will develop procedures by November for testing internal controls for its designated financial systems. Component agencies will perform monitoring of key controls by March 2008.

-Mary Mosquera, FCW.com


Monday, August 13, 2007

IAC Releases White Paper on CFO-CIO Collaboration

FAIRFAX, Va. – August 13, 2007 – The Industry Advisory Council’s (IAC) Collaboration and Transformation Shared Interest Group’s Financial Management Committee today announced the release of a white paper examining the business value of collaboration between Chief Information Officers (CIO) and Chief Financial Officers (CFO.)

The paper explores the challenges and opportunities of collaborating within a public sector organization. Collaboration offers an opportunity to leverage the relative strengths of CFO’s, CIO’s, and Program Managers to identify common outcomes in delivering desired results.

The paper examines programs from several well-known agencies and shows that CFO and CIO collaboration smoothes implementation, mitigates risks, and succeeds even in instances where individual rewards are different. The spotlighted programs demonstrate that successful collaboration in government comes from example instead of by directive.

The paper also highlights the importance of understanding areas outside the core competence of an organization or individual. Recognizing and accepting the limitations of one person or organization can lead to increasing knowledge through collaboration and professional development in other areas.

Download the paper at: http://www.actgov.org/actiac/documents/pdfs/CFOCIOCollabPaper.pdf

Today's GAO Publication

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

Cost Assessment Guide: Best Practices for Estimating and Managing Program Costs--Exposure Draft.
GAO-07-1134SP, July 2

A rally behind accounting codes

Use of common financial standards is seen as a precursor to governmentwide reforms

The government finally is putting the cart behind the horse when it comes to financial management. The Financial Systems Integration Office (FSIO) last week released governmentwide accounting codes to help agencies standardize their business processes, financial data and interfaces for financial reporting.

Officials said the standards should encourage agencies to divert some of the energy they expend on building new financial systems to improving the reporting functions of their existing systems.

Lawmakers and financial experts have criticized the Office of Management and Budget and the General Services Administration for asking agencies to participate in the FM LOB before OMB and GSA put the basic building blocks in place.

“They needed to look at things like a common governmentwide accounting code, which would help bring everything together for the FM LOB,” said Mike Hettinger, director of practice, planning and marketing at Grant Thornton, a consulting company. Hettinger is a former staff director of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee’s Government Management, Finance and Accountability Subcommittee.

The newly released Common Governmentwide Accounting Classification standards offer agencies a common way to code and categorize financial transactions. The standards establish a common understanding of the concepts of managing financial transactions. They will be recognized across government just as standards for automated teller machines are recognized and used by all banks, said Linda Combs, outgoing controller at OMB.

-Mary Mosquera, FCW.com


Small in a big world

A tiny federal agency that provides grants to African enterprises and community organizations pays a shared-services provider to manage its financial transactions. The African Development Foundation has so few transactions that it could track them on a spreadsheet. Nevertheless, the micro-agency must comply with the same requirements for using certified financial management systems and internal controls as its super-sized siblings — the Defense and Homeland Security departments, for example.

The small foundation is among dozens of agencies that operate with staffs and budgets a fraction of those of the largest federal agencies. Think of them as the mom and pop stores of the federal government. Their size makes it difficult for them to meet the voluminous reporting and governance requirements established by Congress and the Office of Management and Budget, but they must play by the big boys’ rules.

Just as legislation affects all agencies regardless of size, the same is true when OMB issues a new policy. Small agencies must toe the line. Small-agency CIOs must be able to show OMB that their information technology spending produces the intended results and improves agency performance. They must produce documentation to show that their systems and data are secure, said Andrea Wuebker, an OMB spokeswoman.

Likewise, small-agency chief financial officers must accurately account for their resources and use internal controls to minimize waste and abuse.

To handle complex administrative functions and mandatory financial reporting requirements, many small agencies rely on shared-services providers, such as the Interior Department’s National Business Center, the Agriculture Department’s National Finance Center and the General Services Administration. Small agencies are ahead of big agencies in using shared-service providers because they can’t afford a big infrastructure, Forman said.

Shared-services providers offer small agencies the benefits of standardization in human resources, payroll and financial management transactions. That’s a major theme of OMB’s Financial Management Line of Business. OMB wants all agencies to move to public or private shared-services providers when they upgrade or acquire new financial systems.

For small agencies, however, shared-services also have a downside, Westfield said.

Small agencies have experienced continuous fee increases and added costs for system upgrades at the same time more agencies are using shared-services providers, he said.

Small agencies do share a common concern about IT governance as OMB presses forward with its Financial Management Line of Business, said Anton Porter, deputy CFO at the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. Porter is also the small-agency liaison to the CFO Council.

Many small agencies that have already outsourced their financial management operations to public shared-services providers are in a quandary about how they would go about conducting competitions among public and private shared-services providers, Porter said. To prepare for the type of competitions that OMB and the General Services Administration require under the Line of Business rules, an agency would be in the awkward position of having to depend on its current shared-services provider to compile a list of requirements that would satisfy the agency’s business needs

-Mary Mosquera, FCW.com


Friday, August 10, 2007

FSIO Releases FMLOB Federal SSP Menu of Services v2

The Financial Management Line of Business (FMLoB) and the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) are pleased to announce the release of version 2 of the Menu of Services provided by each Federal Shared Service Provider (SSP).

The Menu of Services is a compilation for each Federal SSP of their Financial Management Technology Hosting and Administration, Application Management Services, System Implementation Services, and Business Process services offered by the four (4) Federal SSPs. Section 5.1 is an introduction to the Menu of Services which provides an explanation for the Menu of Services spreadsheets found in Section 5.2. The Menu of Services can be found as a part of the Migration Planning Guidance by going to the “Quick Menu” column under the sub-list “FMLoB” and clicking on “FMLoB Documents”.

The Menu of Services replaces all parts of section 5.2 of the Migration Planning Guidance Document.

Today's GAO Publication

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

Homeland Security: Responses to Posthearing Questions Related to the Department of Homeland Security's Integrated Financial Management Systems Challenges.
GAO-07-1157R, August 10

Thursday, August 09, 2007

FederalNewsRadio - Ask the CFO - David Fisher (BTA)

Business Transformation Agency

David Fisher - Director

The old saying goes, an army travels on its stomach. That may still be true, but at the Department of Defense, the belief is that to be successful, the military must be supported by a streamlined and transparent business process. Breaking down cultural barriers and putting that enterprise architecture into place is where David Fisher and the Business Transformation Agency comes in. Fisher says over the past two years, the BTA has been working to find the right balance between centralization and decentralization for its business practices. The effort has resulted in a small set of critical and standardized data elements. As a result, the Defense Department now has access to more financial information in a timely and automated fashion. Once the process is completed, Fisher says it will give key decision makers access to critical information that will contribute to the warfighting effort. Fisher says the immediate challenge is to come up with the right sort of performance metrics to help determine how well the process is proceding.

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Today's GAO Publication

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

Response to a post hearing question related to GAO's December 6, 2006 testimony on continued findings of fraud, waste, and abuse associated with Hurricanes Katrina and Rita relief efforts.
GAO-07-363R, January 12

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

FSIO Releases Two FMLOB Publications

The Financial Systems Integration Office (FSIO) released two important FMLOB publications this week.

The first release was version 4 of the Due Diligence Checklist (DDC) for Federal Shared Service Providers (SSP). The DDC is a list of questions used by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), the Financial Systems Integration Office (FSIO) within GSA, and customer agencies to assess the abilities of potential and current SSP’s in several areas. The DDC replaces section 2.1 of the Migration Planning Guidance Document

The second release was the Common Government-wide Accounting Classification (CGAC) Structure along with associated frequently asked questions. The CGAC structure establishes a standard method for classifying the financial effects of government business activities and moves the Federal government closer to a single standard.

Report finds gaps in compliance with financial management law

Federal agencies have made incremental progress in improving their financial management systems, but most remain unable to routinely produce reliable, timely and useful financial information needed for day-to-day management, according to a new report by congressional auditors.

The Government Accountability Office found that 17 agencies failed to comply with at least one aspect of the 1996 Federal Financial Management Improvement Act. The law requires that the 24 agencies covered by the 1990 Chief Financial Officers Act implement and maintain financial management systems that comply with federal guidelines, applicable accounting standards and the U.S. Government Standard General Ledger.

"Addressing the problems with agencies' financial management systems remains a significant challenge to improved financial management in the federal government," the report (GAO-07-914) stated. "This problem is particularly severe at the Department of Defense. Many agencies are still a long way from accomplishing the goals of the CFO Act of 1990 and FFMIA."

Auditors identified six major recurring problems: financial management systems that are not integrated; inadequate reconciliation procedures; inaccurate and untimely recording of data; noncompliance with the general ledger; failure to adhere to federal accounting standards; and poor security of information systems.

The deficiencies cited by auditors were nearly identical those found in a similar report last year. That report found that 18 agencies were out of compliance with financial laws.

Rather than offering any new recommendations, GAO will host a forum later this year on the impediments federal managers face in bringing their agencies into compliance with the requirements of the law. Chief financial officers, members of the inspectors general community, top OMB officials, congressional staffers and financial management experts from the private sector are expected to attend.

-Robert Brodsky, GovExec.com


Monday, August 06, 2007

Internal checkbooks out of balance

Once again, OMB and CFO Council prod agencies to improve financial accuracy

Agencies are still having trouble balancing their internal checkbooks for interagency transactions. Although they’ve made some progress, agencies still often can’t figure out who gets the debit and who gets the credit when it comes to accounting for funds they exchange for services.

The discrepancies in those balances prevent agencies from giving auditors reliable financial data, and as a result, the federal government annually fails to provide reliably accurate data in its consolidated financial statement.

The Government Accountability Office has not assessed the governmentwide consolidated financial statement for 10 years in large part because agencies cannot match the way they account for intragovernmental activity, GAO Comptroller General David Walker said in the financial statement report from December 2006.

“The Chief Financial Officers Council is aggressively working toward resolving the imbalance in order to restore the public’s trust in our ability to properly account, report and reconcile intragovernmental activity,” said John Cox, the Housing and Urban Development Department’s CFO and leader of the CFO Council’s Central Reporting Transformation Team.

Agencies need to resolve those differences to unlock financial performance, said Danny Werfel, deputy controller at the Office of Management and Budget. He has been tapped to be acting controller when Controller Linda Combs leaves government Aug. 10.

OMB has initiated a number of actions to break down those difficult transactions to develop a consistent governmentwide approach to handling them, Werfel said.

The intragovernmental imbalances undermine agencies’ ability to know how much money they are spending and with whom they are doing business, Cox said.

To identify and resolve differences in how agencies account for transactions, OMB and the CFO Council are setting up the Intragovernmental Dispute Resolution Committee for agencies that are unable to agree on a reconciliation approach and have exhausted other alternatives. Under the plan, agencies can enlist a committee of their peers to provide an impartial assessment and determine the right approach to resolving the imbalance, Werfel said. It should be operational by Sept. 30, Cox added.

In addition, OMB and the Treasury Department have created an Intragovernmental High-Risk Watchlist. The agencies on that list will meet with OMB to explain the corrective actions they are taking to resolve any differences, Cox said.

OMB and the CFO Council based the first watch list on agency balances in the second quarter of fiscal 2007, the period from January through March. The watch list will be distributed quarterly, he said.

Beginning in 2008, OMB will add a new requirement to audit procedures for agencies that have a long history of imbalances with another agency, Cox said. Auditors will focus on internal controls and the agency’s policies and procedures for accounting, reporting and reconciling the imbalances.

Cox’s workgroup at the CFO Council, which recently held its first meeting, will also look for ways to improve the business processes that can create or exacerbate the imbalances.

-Mary Mosquera, FCW.com


Today's GAO Publication

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

Financial Management: Long-standing Financial Systems Weaknesses Present a Formidable Challenge.
GAO-07-914, August 3
Highlights - http://www.gao.gov/highlights/d07914high.pdf

House committee votes to give IGs fixed terms

The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee approved legislation designed to better insulate government inspector generals from political retribution by giving them fixed seven-year terms.

The Improving Government Act (H.R. 928), which was sponsored by Rep. Jim Cooper, D-Tenn., cleared the committee on a voice vote with no audible dissent.

Under the bill, the internal agency watchdogs, who now serve at the pleasure of their appointing authorities, could be fired before the end of the terms only for cause, based on such factors as malfeasance, permanent disability, inefficiency, neglect of duty, or conviction of a felony.

The bill would also authorize IGs to send copies of their budget requests to Congress to deter officials in their respective agencies from slashing their funding in retaliation for unfavorable audits.

In addition, the legislation would authorize $750,000 for the creation of a government wide IG council to give the watchdogs a unified voice and develop a "best practices" guide for audits.

-Terry Kivlan, GovExec.com


Friday, August 03, 2007

Today's GAO Publication

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

Gulf Coast Rebuilding: Observations on Federal Financial Implications.
GAO-07-1079T, August 2
Highlights - http://www.gao.gov/highlights/d071079thigh.pdf

Thursday, August 02, 2007

OPM details plans to revamp financial systems

The Office of Personnel Management has laid out its plans to replace its two accounting and single procurement systems under its Financial Systems Modernization. OPM plans to conduct a public/private competition September through November, select a provider by June 2008 and begin implementation by October 2009, the agency said in its recent posting on the Federal Business Opportunities Web site.

OPM is in the final days of seeking information from interested parties for its competition among public and commercial shared-service providers to comply with the Financial Management Line of Business.

To modernize its systems, OPM will need systems implementation, application hosting services and software through a single acquisition process that will result in one contract.

When OPM selects a provider, the agency plans to first replace its Government Financial Information System, its administrative system, which is an implementation of CGI’s Momentum application. It also plans to replace its procurement system, the CGI Procurement Desktop. Next, OPM will replace its Benefits Financial Management System, the trust fund system, a collection of custom and commercial applications, by moving trust fund management and accounting to the new system implemented in the initial phase. That will result in a single integrated system. Later phases will include cost accounting and property tracking.

-Mary Mosquera, FCW.com


FederalNewsRadio - Ask The CFO - Tony Poleo (DLA)

Defense Logistics Agency

Tony Poleo - Chief Financial Officer

The mission is to support the warfighter, but in many ways, CFO Tony Poleo says DLA resembles a multi-national corporation dealing in volumes that have even grizzled veterans of the private sector raising their eyebrows. But Poleo says as a CFO, he has to do much more than just make sure the numbers add up. With the nation's warfighters depending on DLA, Poleo says it's his job to keep the checkbook going. To help in that effort, DLA just fielded an end-to-end enterprise system with an eye toward going beyond getting a clean audit opinion.

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