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Monday, December 29, 2008

Homeland Security delays solicitation for IT consolidation

The Homeland Security Department has postponed until after the holidays a request for proposals for integrating its financial, acquisition and asset management processes.
Department officials expect to publish the solicitation for Transformation and Systems Consolidation on the Federal Business Opportunities Web site by Jan. 9, several weeks after the Dec. 17, 2008, release date they originally planned.

The revised solicitation follows a draft version circulated in October. DHS accepted comments on the draft until Nov. 7 and prospective bidders had until Dec. 15 to submit initial proposals that would determine whether they qualified to compete for the contract. Federal agencies that are designated as shared service providers of human resources and financial management under the President's Management Agenda goal to expand e-government also are eligible to bid, under the rules of public-private competition established by the Office of Management and Budget in Circular A-76.

Members of Congress and the Government Accountability Office have criticized DHS for delays in consolidation of disparate IT systems from the 22 agencies that combined to form the department in 2003.

According to the solicitation's cover letter, DHS is "seeking a partner to transition components from existing environments to the integrated solution" that relies on a set of standardized business processes. The winner of the contract will be responsible for the following:
Analysis and documentation of system requirements;System design, development and configuration;IT security controls and integration;System integration, quality assurance and user acceptance testing;Implementation;Training;Operations, maintenance and enhancements.

- Jill R. Aitoro, NextGov.com

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

DHS delays financial management RFP

The Homeland Security Department delayed the release of its request for proposals to update its financial management system.

DHS had planned on releasing the much-anticipated RFP on Dec. 17, but now says it will issue the solicitation on or about Jan. 9.

The department is seeking an agencywide system that integrates end-to-end business processes to support financial, acquisition and asset management. The vendor also will provide integration and program management support services.

The contract could be worth about $400 million, according to industry estimates.
Several large financial management systems integrators are interested, vendor sources say.

They include: Accenture, CACI, CGI, CSC, Deloitte, and IBM.
For information: DHS notice on Fedbizopps.gov

Monday, December 22, 2008

OMB: Standards will boost financial performance

The Office of Management and Budget released more guidelines in November to help agencies consolidate and improve their financial accounting practices, according to a Dec. 18 press release.

The latest financial management standards encourage agencies to adopt a single approach to handling accounts receivable. Many agencies have different business processes, which complicates oversight for agencies and auditors charged with reconciling financial information and measuring performance, OMB said.

Establishing common accounting processes is a goal of OMB’s Financial Management Line of Business, which the General Service Administration’s Financial Systems Integration Office (FSIO) manages.

The guidance includes steps for managing accounts due from the public and an agency’s billing and collection divisions, she said. The steps describe internal controls and the best ways to take advantage of electronic tools, such as processing, information routing, review and approval, she added.

OMB previously published standard business processes for contract payments and funds control and distribution, said Danny Werfel, OMB’s deputy controller, in a memo to agency chief financial officers released Dec. 19.

FSIO will update the core requirements for financial management systems to incorporate the new business standards, and it will test vendor software during the qualification and certification process, Werfel said. Agencies must implement the business standards by moving to government or commercial shared-services providers when they are ready to upgrade their financial systems, he added. Those providers are equipped to offer financial management systems and services to many agencies.

- Mary Mosquera, FCW.com


Friday, December 19, 2008

DHS CFO moves on

David Norquist, the Homeland Security Department's chief financial officer since May 2006, has left the department.

A spokesman confirmed that Norquist's last day was Dec. 15. He joins Kearney and Company as a principal.

Peggy Sherry, the career deputy CFO, is acting until a new CFO is named by the Obama administration.

Norquist oversaw the beginning of the second attempt to consolidate DHS's financial management systems. DHS issued the request for proposals earlier this fall.

Army rolls forward with Web financial system

GFEBS set for wide deployment in 2009

The U.S. Army’s five-year-long effort to transition its financial management to an enterprise resource planning (ERP) configuration moved forward in late 2008 when the first fielded solution, known as Release 1.2, was rolled out to Fort Jackson, S.C., the Army’s primary center for basic combat training.

The General Fund Enterprise Business System (GFEBS) is a Web-enabled ERP system from SAP that will allow the Army to share financial, asset and accounting data across the service. The GFEBS implementation involves standardizing financial management and accounting functions such as reimbursables between commands, and real property inventory and management across the Army. It will ultimately serve 79,000 users at about 200 installations around the world, and will manage about $200 billion in spending by the active Army, the Army National Guard and the Army Reserves.

The Fort Jackson deployment went out to about 250 users. Release 1.2 will begin the process of subsuming the Army’s Standard Financial System (STANFINS) and Standard Operation and Maintenance Army Research & Development System (SOMARDS), as well as the majority of their feeder systems, and over time will create a single access point for all Army financial, asset management and real property information.

Eventually, 84 systems will subsume all or part of their functionality to GFEBS, according to Jones. Not every Army financial system will fall under the GFEBS umbrella, at least not right away.

For 2009, the plan is to introduce GFEBS Release 1.3 in April to the rest of Fort Jackson, and also to Fort Benning, Ga., and Fort Stewart, Ga. Release 1.3 is aimed mainly at replacing STANFINS, with new functionality that automates processes and interfaces with the funds control module to bring in supply data.

October 2009 will see the rollout of Release 1.4 to nine major installations in the Southeast U.S. It is at that point that GFEBS will take over more of the SOMARDS function.

- Barry Rosenburg, DefenseSystems.com

Today's GAO Publication

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

Disaster Recovery: FEMA's Public Assistance Grant Program Experienced Challenges with Gulf Coast Rebuilding.
GAO-09-129, December 18.
Highlights - http://www.gao.gov/highlights/d09129high.pdf

Thursday, December 18, 2008

FederalNewsRadio - Federal CFO Insights - William Collison (FDA)

Leveraging Commercial Best Practices

William Collinson,
Acting Director, Office of Financial Management, Food and Drug Administration

The show will focus on how commercial best practices are being leveraged by federal agencies and what benefits we are starting to see across our government. Discussion highlights:
  • Internal controls
  • Risk control and management
  • Business intelligence/analytics
  • Activity-based cost accounting
  • Sarbanes-Oxley
  • CFO Act
  • Government Performance and Results Act
  • OMB Circular A-123

Listen Here

Monday, December 15, 2008

GAO: U.S. Government’s 2008 Financial Report Demonstrates Significant Problems

WASHINGTON (December 15, 2008) - For the 12th year in a row, the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) was prevented from expressing an opinion on the consolidated financial statements of the U.S. government—other than the Statement of Social Insurance—because of numerous material internal control weaknesses and other limitations.

"While significant progress has been made in improving financial management since the federal government began preparing consolidated financial statements 12 years ago, three major impediments have continued to prevent us from rendering an opinion on the accrual basis consolidated financial statements over this period of time," said Gene L Dodaro, Acting Comptroller General of the United States and head of the GAO. "Those include serious financial management problems at the Department of Defense, the federal government’s inability to adequately account for and reconcile intragovernmental activity and balances between federal agencies, and the federal government’s ineffective process for preparing the consolidated financial statements." Dodaro also noted three additional material weaknesses related to improper payments, information security, and tax collection activities. Dodaro added that at least three major agencies did not get clean opinions – the Department of Defense, the Department of Homeland Security, and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA).

"The need for reliable, high-quality financial information has never been greater," Dodaro said, pointing out that much work remains to be done on improving the state of federal financial management. "Continued improvement needs to be a top priority of the new administration and Congress to help provide the financial accountability the public deserves and the information decision makers need to help evaluate government programs and manage the government in a cost-effective manner".

The fiscal year 2008 Financial Report of the United States Government, which includes financial information from the 24 major federal departments and agencies and GAO’s audit report, is being released today by the Treasury Department. Dodaro noted that the report would not be possible without the commitment and professionalism of Inspectors General throughout the federal government who are responsible for annually auditing the financial statements of individual federal agencies. The report is also available on GAO’s web site at


Friday, December 12, 2008

Op-ed: NARA framework distorts records management

Sound financial management demands reliable internal controls, which depend on good financial records. Audits by inspectors general succeed only when they have good records to rely on. Yet chief financial officers, IGs and chief information officers never hear from NARA that good records management is crucial to doing their jobs and improves mission performance.

No one fills the role of promoting the information management side of records management. No government entity advises agencies on best practices for integrating records information into their business processes. Nobody has developed guidance for how records information should contribute to efficiency and productivity in carrying out agency programs.

NARA argues only for the risks that occur when records are not documented and preserved. It never says that programs are more productive and efficient when a solid records management program exists.


Thursday, December 11, 2008

Today's GAO Publications

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

Medicare Advantage Organizations: Actual Expenses and Profits Compared to Projections for 2006.
GAO-09-132R, December 8.

Status of GAO Recommendations to the Department of Defense (Fiscal Years 2001-2007).
GAO-09-201R, December 11.

Troubled Asset Relief Program: Additional Actions Needed to Better Ensure Integrity, Accountability, and Transparency.
GAO-09-266T, December 10

Monday, December 08, 2008

Today's GAO Publications

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

Financial Audit: Capitol Preservation Fund's Fiscal Years 2007 and 2006 Financial Statements.
GAO-09-92, December 5

Actions Taken to Implement the Post-Katrina Emergency Management Reform Act of 2006.
GAO-09-59R, November 21

Friday, December 05, 2008

IGs trade green eyeshades for forensic auditing

The Office of the Inspector General at the General Services Administration wraps up a two-day conference on forensic auditing today in Crystal City. Its the latest effort by the GSA to equip Inspector Generals at all federal agencies with next-generation tools to root out fraud, waste and abuse in the government.

Doctor Conan Albrecht with Brigham Young University is leading the workshop, conducted this week at the Crystal City Marriott Hotel in Arlington. During a lunch break in the workshop, we asked him first to explain the term "forensic auditing".

Albrecht considers forensic auditing to be a more proactive approach to rooting out fraud. Whereas traditional audits look at a set of data, and then examine anomalies in that data that might point to fraud, he says forensic auditing calls for examining data in more routine areas of contracting, for example, and determining what, if any, problems might be encountered by computer analysis of billions and billions of records on that contract.

The organizer of this workshop is Ted Stehney, the director of forensic auditing with the GSA Inspector General's office. There are about a hundred auditing experts from across the government in attendance and Stehney says it is the interagency aspect of this workshop that is unique.

Stehney explains that having the latest high-tech tools for analysis is vital to today's auditors and inspector generals. When the Federal law establishing the modern Inspector Generals at agencies was passed in 1970, "you were lucky to have a copying machine, much less a computer at every workstation. "

Stehney says this is the third such forensic auditing workshop convened by the GSA IG office this year. And he says conducting these interagency conferences is paying off.

And Brigham Young's Conan Albrecht says the advent of forensic auditing is creating a new breed of auditors who have traded their green eyeshades for the tools of data mining and powerful personal computers.

-Max Cacas, FederalNewsRadio.com

Read More or Listen Here

One Last Push To Reauthorize E-Gov Act Coming

Government and industry officials have been working overtime over the past three months to get the E-Government Reauthorization Act through Congress before the end of the year.

Sources say the final road block is a hold by Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.) over some of the requirements around privacy and the use of data brokers by federal agencies.

Sources say they still have hope the Senate would pass the bill during their session starting Dec. 8. The House has indicated it would pass the legislation should the Senate pass it first.

The E-Government Reauthorization Act would do several things including reauthorizing through 2012 the coordination of federal information policy and information security, the E-Government Fund and the Information Exchange Program (ITEP).

It also would reauthorize appropriations for several programs including the Office of Management and Budget's Office of E-Government and Information Technology, the development of common protocols for geographic information systems and providing access to government information on the Web.

But it's the ITEP program that many in industry and government are focusing on. A House aide says the bill must include ITEP for them to consider it.

-Jason Miller, FederalNewsRadio.com

Read More or Listen Here

Thursday, December 04, 2008

HUD picks IBM for financial system upgrade

The Department of Housing and Urban Development awarded IBM a $193 million contract to overhaul its financial management system.

Under the 10-year contract, IBM will replace several legacy financial management systems with one using Peoplesoft software. HUD expects the new system to be implemented in two years.

A HUD spokeswoman confirmed the agency selected IBM Nov. 26.

According to the solicitation, the end result of the new system will be the production of fully auditable financial statements throughout HUD, and potentially the Federal Housing Administration, Ginnie Mae, and the Federal Housing Finance Agency.

For information: FedBizOpps.gov award notice

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Today's GAO Publication

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

Troubled Asset Relief Program: Additional Actions Needed to Better Ensure Integrity, Accountability, and Transparency.
GAO-09-161, December 2
Highlights - http://www.gao.gov/highlights/d09161high.pdf

Monday, December 01, 2008

Today's GAO Publication

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

Flood Insurance: FEMA's Rate-Setting Process Warrants Attention.
GAO-09-12, October 31
Highlights - http://www.gao.gov/highlights/d0912high.pdf

AGA to Host Seven Radio Shows on WFED AM 1500

Beginning on Dec. 9 at 12:05 p.m. EST, AGA will host a series of seven radio shows focusing on the importance of government transparency and accountability. Called, "Your Money, Your Government," the show will be hosted by AGA Executive Director, Relmond Van Daniker, DBA, CPA.

The show features discussions about government performance, accountability and management with a variety of government executives who are working to advance government accountability. The government leaders discuss their experiences, the management challenges facing their organizations and their successful practices. Guests include: congressional representatives, chief financial officers, inspectors general, chief information officers, chief operating officers, controllers, directors, auditors and treasurers.

Listen to the shows online and check out the upcoming show and speaker schedule. Tune in on Tuesday, Dec. 9 to listen to Van's first interview with two former Office of Management and Budget controllers, Linda Combs and Linda Springer, who is also former director of the Office of Personnel Management and current executive director with Ernst & Young, as they discuss "Government in Transition."

Sunday, November 30, 2008

FSIO Quarterly Newsletter - Summer/Fall 2008

FSIO recently posted its latest Quarterly Newsletter online.

This issue includes:
  • An interview with Owen Barewell, FSIO Transformation Team Chairman and DOE DCFO
  • SSP Spotlight on GSA's Federal Integrated Solutions Center (FISC)
  • FMLOB Procure-to-pay standardization
  • Reimbursables Standard Business Process plans

Commentary: Change and the transition

For months one of the most frequently heard words on television has been “change.” Now we know that President-elect Barack Obama will lead that change and federal agencies will be affected. How agencies prepare for and execute change will determine if envisioned outcomes are achieved.

Meaningful discussion of change must distinguish between external change imposed on agencies and internal change agencies introduce to meet the demands of external change. Organizations cannot control external change. For example, the government is not in a position to directly “control” changes in U.S. demographics or political developments in other countries. Similarly, agencies cannot control the priorities of Congress and the president as they relate to program issues. But organizations must manage and control their response to external change.

Best-practice organizations engage in meaningful strategic planning and use that planning to proactively drive internal change. The most successful private-sector companies almost universally engage in proactive change, as their success in a changing environment demands it. As organizations become more reactive to change, however, options typically diminish while the urgency and risk of change increases. Carried to the extreme, organizations are reluctant to undergo change until at the brink of the proverbial “burning platform.”

Government organizations tend to be more risk averse than the private sector. As one Senate staffer recently said, “Congress only has the budget and embarrassment” to induce agencies to meet congressional program objectives. As a result, agencies tend to be slow to change because change brings risk, and risk can bring embarrassment. Moreover, change in agencies — lacking a profit incentive — is often driven by legislative priorities. Consequently, planning takes on a compliance orientation. Agency strategic plans may meet the mandates of the Government Performance and Results Act, but too seldom truly guide agency business decisions. Moreover, the strategic planning process is underused as a primary basis of adapting to the changing demands in the external environment.

Managing risk by becoming more proactive in managing change requires two actions. First, organizations must undertake strategic planning that is less focused on generating glossy public reports and more on driving business decisions across the agency. Such strategic planning is an ongoing process that scans the external environment and proactively seeks change to align organizational goals, objectives and processes to the needs of the shifting environment.

Second, the management of risk is often addressed in an informal, even haphazard manner. A disciplined approach to enterprisewide risk management, using an established framework facilitating a more complete identification, assessment, treatment and monitoring of risk is required. Risk management typically operates within functional silos. Government needs to borrow a private-sector best practice, enterprise risk management, to cross functional silos and focus on those key risks that can adversely affect the achievement of agency strategic objectives.
The transition to a new administration will bring major change — and major risks. As stewards of the public trust, government managers must drive internal change while cognizant of the corresponding risks, and apply the best practices of meaningful strategic planning and enterprise risk management to achieve the results rightfully expected by the nation’s citizens.

-Douglas Webster, FederalTimes.com

Douglas Webster is chief financial officer at the Labor Department and co-author of a newly published book on change management, “Chasing Change.”

Monday, November 24, 2008

Today's GAO Publications

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

Confirmation of Political Appointees: Eliciting Nominees' Views on Management Challenges within Agencies and across Government.
GAO-09-194, November 17.

Federal Farm Programs: USDA Needs to Strengthen Controls to Prevent Payments to Individuals Who Exceed Income Eligibility Limits.
GAO-09-67, October 24.
Highlights - http://www.gao.gov/highlights/d0967high.pdf

Wildland Fire Management: Interagency Budget Tool Needs Further Development to Fully Meet Key Objectives.
GAO-09-68, November 24.
Highlights - http://www.gao.gov/highlights/d0968high.pdf

Interim Guidance Posted to GAO's Yellow Book Web Page

The U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) has posted the document "Interim Guidance on Reporting Deficiencies in Internal Control for GAGAS Financial Audits and Attestation Engagements (November 2008)" on the Yellow Book Web page. Call Michael Hrapsky at 202.512.9535 with questions or send an e-mail to yellowbook@gao.gov.

New FASAB Exposure Drafts

FASAB Releases Exposure Draft on Social Insurance

The Federal Accounting Standards Advisory Board (FASAB) is seeking input on the exposure draft Social Insurance Accounting, Revised. Social Insurance comprises five programs; however, two programs, Social Security and Medicare, are of special significance because of the high rate of participation among citizens, the fiscal challenges related to the programs, and the challenges associated with incorporating estimates of future cash flows of this magnitude in financial statements.

From the outset, members have agreed on the objectives of financial reporting for social insurance programs but have had different views about how best to achieve the objectives and about the timing of the recognition of expense and liability for social insurance programs.
Chairman Tom Allen says that "this exposure draft represents a compromise. It proposes enhanced reporting but does not resolve the two strongly held views regarding when the obligating event occurs for social insurance programs and, thus, when the liability and expense definitions are met within those programs." Comments on the exposure draft are due by Feb. 9, 2009.

FASAB Releases ED on Estimating the Historical Cost of General Property, Plant and Equipment

The FASAB is seeking input on an exposure draft, Estimating the Historical Cost of General Property, Plant, and Equipment--Amending Statements of Federal Financial Accounting Standards 6 and 23.This Statement proposes to clarify that reasonable estimates of original transaction data historical cost may be used to value general property, plant, and equipment. Comments on the exposure draft are due by Jan. 30, 2009.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Today's GAO Publications

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

Department of Labor: Better Cost Assessments and Departmentwide Performance Tracking Are Needed to Effectively Manage Competitive Sourcing Program.
GAO-09-14, November 21
Highlights - http://www.gao.gov/highlights/d0914high.pdf

Thursday, November 20, 2008

FederalNews Radio - Federal CFO Insights - Thomas Cooley (NSF)

Grants Management: Challenges and Solutions for Managing Grants Across the Federal Government

Thomas Cooley - Chief Financial Officer and Director, Office of Budget, Finance and Award Management (BFA)
National Science Foundation

How are grants being managed at the National Science Foundation and across the federal government?

The "landscape" of federal grants:
  • How much money are we talking about?
  • What types of grants are out there to meet that purpose?


  • What does P.L. 106-107 (the Federal Financial Assistance Management Improvement Act) mean for the federal government and their customers in the grants community?
Unfunded mandates
  • What does that mean?
  • What impact can such activities have on the grants community?

Listen Here

Administration touts continued progress on financial audits

Agencies have achieved the best audit results in recent years, giving the incoming administration a solid foundation for further progress, the Office of Management and Budget announced on Wednesday.

All but four of the 24 agencies required to have annual audits under the 1990 Chief Financial Officers Act received clean opinions for fiscal 2008, and all submitted their paperwork on time, OMB reported. In fact, seven agencies handed in their reports three days early, and every agency left a cushion of at least an hour before the midnight deadline on Monday, according to an OMB official who spoke on condition of anonymity. This was in marked contrast to 2004 -- the first year agencies were required to accelerate reporting to 45 days after the close of the fiscal year -- when agencies were "using every minute" available, the official said.

Of particular note, the Treasury Department achieved a passing mark despite last-minute complications as the government got more involved in stabilizing the economy. The takeover of mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac had to be reflected in the department's financial statements, for instance, since it occurred shortly before the end of the fiscal year on Sept. 30.

Administration officials also praised the Army Corps of Engineers, which earned its first clean audit, providing a glimmer of hope for its parent agency, the Defense Department. The Army Corps is the largest Defense entity to achieve a passing mark thus far, and doing so required a massive concerted effort because of the agency's large property inventory and decentralized structure, the OMB official said.

Agencies also made a dent in material weaknesses -- issues that give auditors pause about the reliability of financial information -- reducing them by 18 percent from 39 in fiscal 2007 to 32 in fiscal 2008. The Transportation Department boasted its first clean audit with no material weaknesses, showing that this combination is "very possible and viable" even for large agencies, the OMB official noted.

Agencies won plaudits for identifying more improper payments, which include over- or underpayments to beneficiaries of federal programs such as housing assistance and food stamps.

OMB estimated that the governmentwide payment error rate in fiscal 2008 was 3.9 percent or $71.7 billion. While this is an increase of $16.7 billion over fiscal 2007, it includes mistaken payments for 12 programs that were reviewed the first time in 2008 and is a much more comprehensive estimate than before, the OMB official said. Agencies have taken steps to eliminate mistakes identified in past years, the budget office noted, reducing the error rate for programs examined in fiscal 2004 from 4.4 percent to 3 percent.

It will fall to President-elect Obama's management team to continue this progress, and address lingering material weakness and bringing the four agencies that failed their audits up to speed. Those agencies -- the Defense, Homeland Security and State departments, and NASA -- share some challenges. Defense and Homeland Security have trouble with property inventories and keeping track of how much cash they have on hand, for instance. But other obstacles, such as Defense's outdated financial systems, are more unique.

Johnson recommended that the incoming administration set clear financial management goals and marshal the energy to achieve them. Motivating employees shouldn't be hard, he said. "The Obama administration is going to be very pleased with how well-prepared the financial management people are in each of the agencies to tackle these issues," Johnson said.

-Amelia Gruber, GovExec.com

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

AGA Research Study Sees Bright Future for XBRL Use in State/Local Governments

Research studied the creation of XBRL-enchanced CAFR Statements in the state of Oregon

Alexandria, VA (November 19, 2008) - Using XBRL (short for eXtensible Business Reporting Language) in public sector financial reporting is the subject of a research study, released in September 2008 by the Association of Government Accountants (AGA).

This report entitled, XBRL and Public Sector Financial Reporting: Standardized Business Reporting: the Oregon CAFR Project, studied the feasibility of developing and using an XBRL taxonomy to tag data in a state's Comprehensive Annual Financial Report (CAFR). It is the first actual pilot implementation of XBRL in the governmental sector.

AGA's research team built a taxonomy that tagged two statements in the Oregon CAFR: the Statement of Activities and the Statement of Net Assets. The taxonomy was used to reproduce an instance document with tagged data. The data was then rendered (reproduced) in the form of the original statements. The taxonomy included 150 Governmental Accounting Standards Board (GASB)-compliant tagged data elements.

The report describes the research effort, provides a brief technical overview of XBRL, and contains graphics demonstrating the processes of converting the CAFR data into XBRL, creating the instance document and rendering the instance document into a readable conventional file format.

The significant findings of the research were that:

1) A CAFR taxonomy for all states would have to be at a relatively high level since line items (at least by title) are likely to vary considerably among the states.
2) There are good reasons for looking at XBRL to improve the handling, exchange and reporting of public sector financial information.
3) There is a tremendous opportunity for more research in this area and an even greater opportunity for improved municipal reporting.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Federal CFOs could be key players in Obama administration

Chief financial officers could play a significant role in shaping agency missions during the next administration. But first, they'll need to learn the ins and outs of federal financial management, which is very different than in the private sector, where most incoming CFOs are likely to have been schooled.

"President-elect Obama has talked about wanting to bring a scalpel to programs and to really look at places in the federal government where we can take money from certain things that are no longer effective and apply it to other things," said Patricia Healy, who served nine years as deputy chief financial officer at the Agriculture Department before retiring from federal service in January 2008.

To help bring incoming CFOs up to speed, Healy led a group of current and former federal executives working as advisers to the Council for Excellence in Government, a nonprofit organization in Washington that works to improve public sector management, to produce the "Federal CFO Roadmap." The five-page document outlines the responsibilities of finance personnel and the key laws that govern reporting and accountability requirements.

Healy advised incoming CFOs to read the laws behind their responsibilities and develop strong partnerships with career personnel who can help them navigate the requirements.

"This is the time for the CFOs to really become involved with their agency's missions," she said. "There's not going to be new money. We're going to have to make do with what we have and we're going to have to use it in the best way."

-Katherine McIntyre Peters, GovExec.com

Nonprofits urge Obama to focus on program performance

A coalition of good government groups this week will add its wish list to a growing pile of advice for President-elect Barack Obama and the 111th Congress, ranking performance measurement and improvement as top priorities.

"Performance must be paramount if governing for excellence is to be attained and replicated," the Government Performance Coalition stated in draft recommendations. "Good policies and sound investments will fall short of the mark if anything less than exceptional performance is the predominate mode of operation."

The advocates for a more effective government urged Obama and Congress to set standards and demand accountability through a performance-based framework at executive and legislative branch agencies. This should include linking agency budgets with annual performance plans, developing outcome measures that focus on critical priorities, and applying an objective system to evaluate program and individual successes, the groups said.

They also recommended issuing short reports that give the public a better understanding of the government and fuel a more meaningful debate about fiscal priorities, performance results and future challenges.

The coalition called for greater investment in human resources, including recruiting, orienting, developing and retaining a productive federal workforce, and engaging in workforce planning to address future skills needs.

Finally, the coalition suggested promoting the strategic use of technology to reengineer work processes to improve service delivery and accountability. This also would help meet the expectations of an increasingly tech-savvy population by tapping the Internet to give people instant access to the government.

The coalition, which was founded in 2000 and consists of 18 good government groups, does not advocate specific policy programs or positions, but rather, presents lawmakers and the administration with tools they can use to formulate an effective government management agenda.

-Brittany Ballenstedt, GovExec.com

Today's GAO Publications

The Government Accountability Office (GAO) released the following publications:

Federal Real Property: Government's Fiscal Exposure from Repair and Maintenance Backlogs Is Unclear.
GAO-09-10, October 16.
Highlights - http://www.gao.gov/highlights/d0910high.pdf

Financial Audit: Securities and Exchange Commission's Financial Statements for Fiscal Years 2008 and 2007.
GAO-09-173, November 14.
Highlights - http://www.gao.gov/highlights/d09173high.pdf

U.S. Government Accountability Office: Performance and Accountability Report Fiscal Year 2008.
GAO-09-1SP, November 14

Financial Audit: IRS's Fiscal Years 2008 and 2007 Financial Statements.
GAO-09-119, November 10.
Highlights - http://www.gao.gov/highlights/d09119high.pdf

Friday, November 14, 2008


Washington, DC— Thanks to a new Roadmap available at www.excelgov.org, current and incoming Federal Chief Financial Officers (CFOs) now have an innovative resource to look to for a detailed explanation of required duties, and an outline of evolving roles and responsibilities based on emerging trends in the industry.

With this new federal CFO Roadmap, all current and future public sector CFOs will have a common starting point. It includes a listing of the required duties per the CFO Act of 1990, as well as an outline of key budget and performance milestones and activities. The document also provides public sector CFOs with an overview the federal financial management industry and the future role of the CFO.

The Council for Excellence in Government developed the federal CFO Roadmap in partnership with the management and technology consulting firm BearingPoint, and under the direction and expertise of the Council’s CFO SAGE (Strategic Advisors to Government Executives) community. The CFO SAGE program brings together former and current federal CFO "all stars" and other senior financial management leaders into a live and interactive community designed to provide thought leadership and strategic advice, counsel and mentoring opportunities to government agency CFOs and other government financial executives.


Thursday, November 13, 2008

Outdated systems, poor security plague IRS

The Internal Revenue Service has serious issues with outdated financial management systems and insufficient information security that could affect the accuracy of its financial statements, according to a Government Accountability Office report released on Wednesday.

The report concluded that the agency's internal controls were not effective and that it did not comply with legal requirements for federal financial management systems.

The report says the IRS has yet to clearly articulate its plans to update the financial management systems or establish metrics to help determine the financial efficacy of its enforcement and collection programs.

The IRS is currently in the midst of the Business Systems Modernization program to upgrade its aging networks, for which the agency requested $222 million for fiscal 2009. The IRS began the program in 1999 after a previously failed effort, and plans to modernize its technology and consolidate the more than 400 legacy systems currently in use. GAO has designated the entire program as high risk.

GAO gives the IRS credit for taking steps to improve its internal controls and processes, but said the remaining challenges were enough to seriously hamper the agency's efforts to fulfill its mission.

The IRS' information security vulnerabilities are among the biggest concerns with financial management. In early November, the Treasury Department inspector general for tax administration identified material weaknesses in the taxpayer information system that could lead to identity theft. GAO's report echoed the IG's concerns.

GAO made 147 recommendations to help the agency strengthen its controls over financial management processes; 66 of those relate to information security. The IRS said it was dedicated to improving its financial management systems and cited several initiatives, such as testing the outsourcing of some transactions to Treasury's consolidated service center.

-Gautham Nagesh,NextGov.com


Friday, November 07, 2008

Today's GAO Publications

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

Financial Audit: Bureau of the Public Debt's Fiscal Years 2008 and 2007 Schedules of Federal Debt.
GAO-09-44, November 7.
Highlights - http://www.gao.gov/highlights/d0944high.pdf

The Nation's Long-Term Fiscal Outlook: September 2008 Update.
GAO-09-94R, November 6.

Thursday, November 06, 2008


Washington, D.C. – (Nov. 6, 2008) – Acting Comptroller General Gene Dodaro Thursday released a list of 13 urgent issues the Government Accountability Office (GAO) has identified as among those needing the attention of President-Elect Obama and the 111th Congress during the transition and the first year of the new administration and Congress. The list is the centerpiece of a new Web site GAO launched Thursday that is designed to help make the transition an informed and smooth one across the federal government.

See the website at: http://www.gao.gov/transition_2009

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Obama outlines government reform plan

President-elect Barack Obama has already laid out a comprehensive set of government reform plans, including major changes to the Bush administration’s Program Assessment Rating Tool (PART), sweeping ethics reform and a new approach toward financial regulation.

Obama laid out his plans in an 11-page memo released last month. It calls for a new chief performance officer in the White House, who will oversee a strengthened PART. Under the new program, the president would have the authority to use poor PART assessments to replace agency heads, demand improvement plans, and reduce or eliminate program budgets.

The Bush administration has said repeatedly that PART assessments do not directly correlate to an agency’s budget.

Obama would restructure many federal agencies under the plan, thinning the ranks of what he calls “Washington middle managers” and boosting staffing levels in field offices. But Obama’s government reform memo doesn’t provide specifics on how many management jobs would be cut, and which agencies would be most affected.

Obama also hopes to increase transparency, through steps like creating a searchable database of lobbyist contacts and posting complete government contracts on the Internet. His team hopes those efforts will eliminate ethical lapses like those at the Interior Department’s Minerals Management Service, where employees accepted gifts and meals from oil companies they regulated.

The plan also addresses another set of regulatory agencies making headlines: financial regulators.

“The large, complex institutions that dominate the financial landscape today no longer fit into discrete categories,” it says. “We need a streamlined system of oversight, one that reflects 21st century markets.”

Obama’s plan calls for consolidating some of the agencies, and requiring more detailed disclosures from financial institutions.

-Gregg Carlstrom, FederalTimes.com

Monday, November 03, 2008

Today's GAO Publication

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

"Transforming DOD Business Operations," by Gene L. Dodaro, acting comptroller general, before the Defense Finance 2008 conference. GAO-09-160CG, October 27, 2008 [slides]

Thursday, October 30, 2008

CACI and Oracle Team To Provide Functionality for Federal Procurement Contracts Management

CACI and Oracle announced today that the two companies have entered into an agreement to jointly develop a Contract Lifecycle Management solution that helps federal organizations author, execute, and manage procurement contracts in compliance with the Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR), Defense Federal Acquisition Regulation Supplement (DFARS), and other agency supplements. CACI will provide subject matter expertise gained from years of experience designing and implementing contract management systems for the Department of Defense and federal civilian agencies to help Oracle enhance the functionality of its commercial-off-the-shelf (COTS) Oracle(R) E-Business Suite. This functionality is expected to support both simplified and complex acquisitions and be integrated with Oracle's procurement and financial management applications to provide a complete procure-to-pay process that meets government compliance mandates and transforms federal contract management.

Oracle Contract Lifecycle Management is an enterprise solution that helps create and enforce better contracts by enabling standardized contract processes, reduced time-to-contract, and contract compliance. The solution builds on existing procurement and contract lifecycle management functionality within Oracle E-Business Suite, providing capabilities to help significantly cut supply management costs for federal customers by integrating requisitioning, sourcing, purchasing, and supplier collaboration with business intelligence. It provides contract professionals with capabilities to author, approve, sign, monitor, track, modify, renew, and close out contracts.

CACI will leverage its experience gained from over 30 years in the federal procurement space to transition the current user community from existing solutions to Oracle's enhanced contract management offering. CACI's depth and breadth of capabilities stem from the development and implementation of widely used acquisition systems and contracting operations that encompass the full spectrum of procurement, ranging from shopping cart buys to complex acquisition management. In addition, the company works with federal customers as a systems integrator to achieve consolidation of acquisition, financial, and other business systems into enterprise resource planning (ERP)-centric models through its broad-based implementation services. The company also specializes in the development and delivery of end-user training programs that integrate agency procurement business processes with automated acquisition applications.


Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Today's GAO Publication

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

Oil and Gas Royalties: MMS's Oversight of Its Royalty-in-Kind Program Can Be Improved through Additional Use of Production Verification Data and Enhanced Reporting of Financial Benefits and Costs.
GAO-08-942R, September 26.

Today's GAO Publication

The Government Accountability Office (GAO) today issued the following Decisions and Opinions of the Comptroller General:

Appropriations Decisions:

B-316372, Denali Commission--Overobligation of Apportionment,
October 21, 2008

The Denali Commission incurred an obligation for the amount of a grant to the Alaska Department of Commerce, Community and Economic Development when it transmitted its Financial Assistance Award to the Alaska Department on August 27, 2005. The Commission did not violate the Antideficiency Act because it had sufficient funds available for the grant at the time it incurred the obligation; however, the Commission failed to record the obligation in accordance with the recording statute, 31 U.S.C. sect. 1501(a).

DHS tries for financial IT consolidation

The Homeland Security Department is looking for a contractor to carry out its Transformation and Systems Consolidation program, which aims to create a single, unified information technology system for financial, acquisition and asset management. Industry sources estimate the financial systems consolidation contract could be valued at $400 million.

The IT acquisition program is on the Office of Management and Budget’s High-Risk List and Management Watch List.

Earlier this year, DHS officials said they were planning to consolidate financial systems on Oracle and SAP platforms. On March 17, the U.S. Court of Federal Claims ruled that the choice represented an improper sole-source procurement and ordered DHS to conduct an open competition.

The department’s Office of the Chief Financial Officer released a draft request for information Oct. 24 seeking an enterprise solution, along with integration services and program support. Comments are due by Nov. 7, with proposals likely to be due by Dec. 15.

In the RFI, DHS said it intends to award a single indefinite-delivery, indefinite-quantity performance-based contract for a five-year base period with five one-year optional extensions.

The CFO office’s goal is to “acquire a proven, integrated financial, asset and acquisition management system solution with the accompanying program management, change management and integration services to implement and sustain the proposed solution,” the draft RFI states.

The department is seeking a partner to help transition its 22 component agencies to the integrated enterprise solution.

The contractor must provide a system life cycle approach to analysis, documentation, design, development and configuration; IT security controls and integration; unit and system integration testing, quality assurance testing and user acceptance testing; implementation; training; and operations, maintenance and enhancements, the RFI states.

-Alice Lipowicz, FCW.com

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

New IG council focuses on training, interagency efforts

The nation’s inspectors general are forming a new council that will focus on cross-cutting projects and improved training for IG staffers.

Congress called for creation of the new council in the 2008 Inspector General Reform Act passed last month. The bill has a number of provisions to strengthen inspectors general: It makes them harder to remove, for instance, and adds more transparency to their budgets.

But the council, to be called the Council of Inspectors General on Integrity and Efficiency, is the centerpiece of the bill. It will combine two existing IG councils — the President’s Council on Integrity and Efficiency (PCIE), and the Executive Council on Integrity and Efficiency, both of which were created by executive order — and give the council statutory authority.

“We want to focus on uniform training for the 12,000 people in the IG community, and make that more effective than it’s been in the past,” said Greg Friedman, the Energy Department inspector general and vice president of the PCIE. “And we’ll focus on more interagency projects … on a horizontal basis, looking at the same issues in different agencies.”

Friedman said the council’s exact priorities would be set after it selects a chairman within the next 30 days. One priority sure to be high on the list, he said, is contract management.

“That seems to be a problem at many agencies,” he said. The council will also likely coordinate reports on cybersecurity, financial management and human capital management.

“It’s great that it has the capacity to provide lessons learned governmentwide,” said Danielle Brian, executive director of the Project on Government Oversight, which advocated for the bill.

“There are so many problems that occur across agencies, and that aren’t addressed by the current structure [of IG councils].”

A group of inspectors general met last week with Clay Johnson, deputy director for management at the Office of Management and Budget and the chairman of the two existing IG councils.

Friedman said the council would probably also work on programs that cut across agencies. Good-government groups have criticized the IGs for focusing their efforts on management issues in recent years.

-Gregg Carlstrom, FederalTimes.com

Monday, October 27, 2008

FASAB Issues New Statement of Federal Financial Accounting

The Federal Accounting Standards Advisory Board (FASAB) has issued Statement of Federal Financial Accounting Standards (SFFAS) 33, Pensions, Other Retirement Benefits, and Other Post-employment benefits: Reporting Gains and Losses from Changes in Assumptions and Selecting Discount Rates and Valuation Dates. The standards in SFFAS 33 require:
  • Gains and losses from changes in long-term assumptions used to estimate liabilities for federal employee pension and other retirement benefits, and other post-employment benefits to be displayed as discrete line items on the governmentwide entity's and the component entities' statements of net cost; and
  • Components of the expense associated with such liabilities to be disclosed in notes to the financial statements. SFFAS 33 also provides standards for selecting the discount rate assumption and the valuation date for such liabilities.
Practices have varied regarding the discount rate for such liabilities and SFFAS 33 establishes one consistent approach for such rates for these liabilities The standards prescribed in SFFAS 33 are effective for periods beginning after Sept. 30, 2009. The statement is available on the FASAB website.

FMSB Comments on Two GASB Exposure Drafts

AGA's Financial Management Standards Board (FMSB) has issued a comment letter on two Exposure Drafts of the Governmental Accounting Standards Board (GASB): Codification of Accounting and Financial Reporting Guidance Contained in the AICPA Statements on Auditing Standards and The Hierarchy of Generally Accepted Accounting Principles for State and Local Government. The FMSB believes that moving the hierarchy of Generally Accepted Accounting Principles from the auditing literature to a GASB statement is a wise decision and one that is especially appropriate in light of the Financial Accounting Standards Board codification project and the convergence of international with national standards. Including in GASB guidance the three issues discussed in the codification Exposure Draft--related party transactions, subsequent events and going concern considerations--would help to more appropriately place presentation of principles used in the preparation of financial statements in accounting and financial reporting standards, the FMSB stated.


Thursday, October 23, 2008

New Feature for Readers of FedCFO.com

Readers of FedCFO.com now have the ability to register as a "follower" of this blog. This new feature provides readers the ability to publicly or anonymously subscribe to this blog adding it to the Reading List on their Blogger Dashboard so they stay updated with the FedCFO.com posts along with the other blogs they follow.

To register as a follower click here or click on the "Follow this Blog" link on the right sidebar of this page.

Learn more about blog following here.

Intra-Governmental Transactions Management for Federal Agencies

Potomac Forum Intra-Governmental Transaction Management Workshop
November 12, 2008 – Willard InterContinental Hotel

Workshop Description
This half day program will equip you with the knowledge you need to bring more efficiency and accountability to managing interagency transactions. During the session, you will hear from top financial management experts from the government and the private sector, who will review best practices, strategies and technologies they are using to enhance IGT management, as well as share lessons learned and give practical tips on deploying IGT management solutions.

What You Will Learn
  • Best practices in IGT management employed by federal agencies
  • Practical solutions and tips on implementing IGT solutions
  • Strategies and technological tools that can make IGT management at your agency easier and more effective

Why You Should Attend
The difficulty associated with accounting for buy-sell activity among agencies stifles the financial performance of federal agencies and is a major reason that the federal government is unable to deliver a government-wide consolidated financial statement.

Introducing enhanced tools and processes into IGT management can make a difference to your agency's financial performance while saving the time and resources currently spent on reconciling interagency transactions.

Who should attend

  • Mid- to senior-level federal financial managers
  • Managers involved in intra-governmental transactions management


  • Presentations by financial management experts.
  • Panel discussion featuring case studies by financial management practitioners from federal agencies and the private sector.
  • Interactive roundtable discussions during the event, concluding with an open Q&A session.
Email Mary@potomacforum.org to be placed on email list for more details

Additional details and agenda can be found at the Potomac Forum website.

IG community honors auditors and investigators

Nearly 100 federal employees and agency teams tasked with fighting government fraud and waste received kudos from two top councils on integrity and efficiency on Thursday.

"Despite the transformation that requires all of us to be able to work in a dynamic environment, we have remained focused on our core mission," said Daniel Levinson, inspector general of the Health and Human Services Department and chairman of the President's Council on Integrity and Efficiency awards program. The 11th annual ceremony, held in Washington, coincided with the 30th anniversary of the 1978 Inspector General Act, which established the duties and responsibilities of the watchdog organizations.

The awards were handed out by the President's Council, which includes IGs appointed by the president, and the Executive Council on Integrity and Efficiency, which includes IGs who are appointed by agency heads.

Winners included the asset forfeiture team at the Agriculture Department that handled National Football League quarterback Michael Vick's dog-fighting operation, and the team from the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction Office that investigated the physical soundness of the Mosul Dam.

The Sentner Award for Dedication and Courage, the IG community's highest honor, went posthumously to Paul Converse, a special auditor with the Iraq Reconstruction IG office who was killed in Iraq last March.

Marlane Evans, deputy inspector general for audit at Agriculture won the Alexander Hamilton Award, while the department's Link Team won the Gaston L. Gianni, Jr. Better Government Award for its investigation of electronic benefits transfer fraud. The Transportation Department team that investigated lapses in the Federal Aviation Administration's inspections program at Southwest Airlines won the Glenn/Roth Award for Exemplary Service. Education Department Inspector General John Higgins Jr., won the June Gibbs Brown Career Achievement Award. James Noeth, deputy inspector general for audit at the National Science Foundation, and Housing and Urban Development Department special agent Edwin Bonano both won awards for individual accomplishment.

-Alyssa Rosenberg, GovExec.com

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

DoD outlines role of the deputy chief management officer

The Defense Department last week detailed the functions of the deputy chief management officer.

The directive outlines 10 areas the deputy will focus on assisting the chief management officer, who is the deputy secretary of defense.

The deputy CMO will suggest methodologies and measurement criteria to better synchronize, integrate and coordinate DoD's business operations; develop and maintain the DoD Strategic Management Plan; and advise on performance goals and measures and assessing progress against those goals.

DoD's directive also says the deputy will be the Capability Portfolio Manager for the Corporate Management and Support Portfolio; oversee the functions of the Performance Improvement Officer and ensure that business transformation policies and programs are designed and managed to improve performance standards, economy and efficiency and that the Defense Business Transformation Agency pays close attention to DoD's requirements.

DoD for a long time had rejected the idea that it needs a chief management officer despite Congress and the Government Accountability Office calling for one.

DoD finally relented in September 2007 by naming Deputy Defense Secretary Gordon England the CMO.

For more information: Deputy Chief Management Officer (DCMO) of the Department of Defense Directive (pdf)

Friday, October 17, 2008

Bush performance rating tool draws plaudits, pans

As the Bush presidency winds down, performance reviews of the administration's Program Assessment Rating Tool are mixed.

Proponents of PART, which uses a standard questionnaire to assess and improve every federal program, laud the tool for providing a wealth of new performance data, while critics argue that it fails to recognize the diversity of individual programs, among other things.

The two groups made their respective cases in Washington on Wednesday and Thursday.
Beryl Radin, a professor at American University, argued at the American Bar Association's Administrative Law Conference on Thursday that PART and the 1993 Government Performance and Results Act were too narrow in scope to meet their goals.

Both concepts, she said, focused on holding federal employees accountable for outcomes and results, but did not incorporate the cause of those outcomes -- such as air quality or the number of drunk driving fatalities -- into their analyses.

The difficulty of measuring how well programs and individual agencies are meeting their statutory missions is not new.

Sid Shapiro, a law professor at Wake Forest University, said GPRA -- passed during the Clinton administration -- has failed to promote effective regulatory government because its inherent goal is to ferret out waste, fraud and abuse and then punish underperforming agencies by cutting their budgets. Consequently, agencies attempt to protect themselves by devising "euphemistic performance goals in order to assure that they can pass their own grading criteria," Shapiro wrote in an essay presented at the forum.

Annual GPRA reports, he said, rarely mention the agency's lack of funding or staff reductions, and how those challenges may affect their performance.

Robert Shea, OMB's former associate director of administration and government performance and one of the architects of PART, addressed the merits and relative successes of the tool during a virtual forum on Wednesday hosted by Cognos, an IBM company.

After more than six years, PART now has evaluated every federal program -- more than 1,000 in total -- and suggested specific management, legislative or regulatory improvements.
When PART began in 2002, 50 percent of all federal programs evaluated could not demonstrate their results and only 6 percent were rated "effective." Now, nearly 50 percent of all programs are rated as "effective" or "moderately effective" while less than 20 percent are ranked as "results not demonstrated."

The focus of these evaluations also has evolved, Shea said. For example, until recently small business development centers only measured the number of small businesses they counseled or trained. Now the centers look at the number of jobs created. Likewise, community health centers previously measured how many people they provided service to; now the target is health outcomes such as low birth weight in babies.

-Robert Brodsky, GovExec.com

Thursday, October 16, 2008

FederalNewsRadio - CFO Insights - Jimaye Sones (DISA)

Financial Accountability: How the federal government is moving toward financial accountability

Jimaye Sones - Comptroller, Defense Information Systems Agency

Financial accountability goes beyond implementing controls or achieving a clean audit opinion…it's about moving the culture of the entire agency - not just financial managers - to become the best stewards of taxpayers' dollars possible.

The strategy to achieve this, includes four tenets
1. Integrity
2. Full and open financial disclosure
3. Fiscal discipline
4. Professional competency

Federal and commercial entities continue to improve their accountability through the requirements of OMB Circular A-123 and Sarbanes Oxley in the commercial sector where entities assess their processes and controls and implement corrective actions to become more financially accountable and to reduce their risks.

Listen Here

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Accenture Helps U.S. Army Go Live with New Financial System

New system integrates financial management capabilities and prepares Army for department-wide deployment

WASHINGTON--(BUSINESS WIRE)--The U.S. Army has deployed release 1.2 of its financial system at Fort Jackson, S.C., with the help of Accenture (NYSE: ACN). The new financial system, known as the General Fund Enterprise Business System (GFEBS), integrates all related components and supports financial management and real property functions. The successful implementation of release 1.2 sets the stage for Army-wide deployment of the system by 2012.
Release 1.2 of GFEBS serves as the global design for all of the Army to provide organizations with new business processes in seven areas, including financial management, real property and cost management.

As the prime system integrator for the program, Accenture has worked with the Army’s Program Executive Office, Enterprise Information Systems, on GFEBS since July 2005, when it was awarded the contract to design, build, deploy and maintain the system, which eventually will consolidate and subsume approximately 84 existing information systems.

GFEBS is a Web-enabled solution based on commercial-off-the-shelf software from SAP that will integrate seamlessly into the Army’s information technology environment. The new financial system is designed to manage annual general fund appropriated expenditures across the Army, National Guard and Army Reserves. Serving more than 79,000 end-users at nearly 200 Army financial centers worldwide, GFEBS will become one of the world's largest SAP implementations, enabling management of a budget that exceeds $140 billion.

Accenture and the Army have been working on GFEBS Release 1.2 since September 2006, following a technology demonstration that proved the ability of GFEBS to meet the information requirements needed to operate and support the management of real property inventory, part of the Army’s general fund.

GFEBS Release 1.2 affects 221 users from eight deployment sites across several states and the Pentagon.

Accenture is working concurrently on Release 1.3, which will include additional functionality for GFEBS to provide general fund financial management, asset management and real property capabilities at all garrisons and tenant organizations Army-wide.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

CGI to upgrade FCC financial systems

CGI Federal Inc. will provide new financial management software and other services to the Federal Communications Commission under a 10-year award worth about $25 million.
CGI will replace its existing Federal Financial System software with its Momentum financial management software and Financial Management Line of Business hosting solution. The upgrade is part of FCC’s Core Financial System Replacement initiative.

The contractor will install the Momentum Financials software suite, including Momentum Performance Budgeting and Momentum Data Warehouse. CGI will perform all integration and implementation activities, hosting, application management and ongoing operations and maintenance, company officials said. The financial system application will be housed at CGI’s Phoenix data center.

In addition to providing full financial management services, CGI’s solution has the added benefit of managing FCC’s annual regulatory and application processing fees. The company’s fee calculation, billing, collecting and reporting functions will help the regulatory agency comply with federal financial and regulatory rules as well as improve customer service through consolidated licensee management.

FCC joins the General Services Administration, U.S. Courts, Environmental Protection Agency, National Transportation Safety Board, Broadcasting Board of Governors and the Corporation for National and Community Service, whose financial systems applications are hosted by CGI, company officials said.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

GAO Seeks Director of Financial Management and Assurance

The United States Government Accountability Office (GAO) is the agency that works for Congress and the American people. Congress mandates GAO to study the programs and expenditures of the federal government. GAO, commonly called the investigative arm of Congress or the Congressional Watchdog, is at the epicenter of government decision-making. It is independent and nonpartisan.

The position we are seeking to fill is the Director of Department of Defense Financial Management Issues in the Financial Management and Assurance (FMA) team. The incumbent interacts with financial statement and program auditors, specialists and experts in areas such as information technology; program officials; and others in a multidisciplinary environment, to understand and evaluate how program requirements/components work together to achieve good federal financial management and reporting. The Director is responsible for supporting the established overall goals, objectives, and priorities set by the Managing Director for GAO work. This individual has principal responsibility for formulating strategic objectives and tactical plans as well as contributing to GAO’s performance measures such as timeliness and financial savings.

To $169,300 + bonus eligibility (Senior Executive Service-level position)

To be considered, applications must be received no later than midnight, November 10, 2008.

U.S. Citizenship required. You may be required to obtain a Top Secret security clearance.


Joseph DeGioia
JDG Associates, Ltd.
1700 Research Boulevard
Rockville, MD 20850
Email: degioia@jdgsearch.com

Email JDG

Monday, October 06, 2008

AGA's CPAG Releases New Research Report on XBRL

AGA has long supported the use of XBRL to potentially improve the transparency and analysis in government financial reporting. Accordingly, AGA decided to implement a research project to study the benefits of developing and using an XBRL-taxonomy to tag data in a state’s Comprehensive Annual Financial Report, or CAFR. It was decided that the project should focus on one state pilot, with the intent that the results would prove to be helpful to other states contemplating a similar effort. Read the report, XBRL and Public Sector Financial Reporting.

Public Forum on XBRL Set For Oct. 16
Interactive data means greater accuracy, integrity and reduced cost in government reporting. Attend the XBRL Public Sector Symposium, Washington, D.C., on Oct. 16, 2008. Government employee discounts are offered.

Learn how structured data improves municipal securities processing, grants reporting, standardizing government reporting and agency collaboration.

Hear from:
Steven O. App, CGFM, Deputy Director and CFO, Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC)
Kim R. Wallin, CPA, CMA, CFM, Controller, State of Nevada
Mary Simpkins, Office of Municipal Securities, and David Blaszkowsky, Office of Interactive Disclosure, Securities and Exchange Commission
Ernesto Lanza, Municipal Securities Regulatory Board
H. Wes Bills, Nevada Department of Agriculture

AGA Executive Director Relmond Van Daniker, DBA, CPA, will moderate a session on municipal reporting in XBRL format.

Click here to find out more and to register.

Friday, October 03, 2008

Many agencies unable to produce reliable financial data

Agencies need to be able to produce correct and timely financial information to make the most effective decisions about how to manage their daily operations, especially in the current difficult economic environment, the Government Accountability Office said.

To produce useful financial and performance data, agencies must comply with requirements for financial management systems and accounting standards under the Federal Financial Management Improvement Act (FFMIA) of 1996.

For fiscal 2007, 13 of 24 major agencies failed to meet requirements for their financial management systems, including their processes, procedures and internal controls, GAO said in a report released Oct. 2. The performance audit took place from December 2007 to September 2008.

Auditors reported problems, such as nonintegrated financial management systems, inadequate reconciliation procedures, lack of accurate and timely recording of data and weak security over information systems.

“Financial management systems are not providing reliable, useful and timely information to help manage agency programs more effectively,” said Kay Daly, acting director of GAO’s financial management and assurance. GAO is still concerned that the criteria for assessing substantial compliance with FFMIA are not well-defined or consistently implemented across agencies, the report said.

While the Office of Management and Budget is revising its financial management guidance, GAO re-emphasized the need for OMB to clarify what constitutes substantial compliance and to look at financial management systems’ capabilities beyond financial statement preparation, she said.

Agencies’ efforts to implement new systems far too often result in systems that do not meet cost, schedule and performance goals, Daly said. To avoid implementation problems, OMB continues to advance its Financial Management Line of Business to encourage use of common applications, business processes and accounting standards.

-Mary Mosquera, FCW.com

Today's GAO Publication

The Government Accountability Office (GAO) today issued the following Decision of the Comptroller General:

Appropriations Decisions:
B-317022, United States Postal Service Office of Inspector General--Implementation of Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act Section 603, Part 1,
September 25, 2008

The United States Postal Service (USPS) is exempt from "Federal law[s] dealing with public or Federal contracts, property, works, officers, employees, budgets, or funds," unless otherwise provided. 39 U.S.C. sect. 410. As a component of USPS, the Office of Inspector General
(OIG) is covered by the same exemption.

Since the statutory language authorizing direct appropriations to OIG is ambiguous, OIG should work with Congress to obtain a provision in the continuing resolution to ensure continued funding of OIG operations.

USPS may not supplement OIG's appropriations with additional funds, because doing so would constitute an augmentation. Agencies may not augment their appropriations because it would interfere with the congressional prerogative to control agency activity.

AGA Research Study Finds That SAS 70 Reports Are Useful to Governments But Could Be Improved

Alexandria, VA (October 3, 2008) - Today, the Association of Government Accountants (AGA) released the results of a research study that examined the usefulness of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants' (AICPA) Statement on Auditing Standards (SAS) No. 70, Service Organizations, report to governments.

SAS 70 Reports: Are They Useful and Can They Be Improved? addresses the usefulness of SAS 70 and whether improvements would increase its usefulness. SAS 70 reports are used by numerous federal and state agencies when they outsource their financial systems and services, most commonly payroll.

The significant findings of the research were that:

1) User organizations do not always obtain the information they need from the SAS 70 report;
2) The controls tested by the service organization's auditor may not be those that are considered important by the user organization;
3) Generally, user organizations do not have significant input to the scope or systems to be covered by the SAS 70 report.

The study used a series of face-to-face meetings, telephone interviews and Internet surveys with selected users as well as state and federal government auditors to gauge their usage and success levels. SAS 70 reports communicate information and assurance about the controls of the service organization that are of interest to user organizations and their auditors as they relate to an audit of the financial statements. Service organizations have become a critical part of some user organizations' overall system of internal control over financial and operational reporting.

The passage of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act caused an increase in the usage of SAS 70 reports as a way to better evaluate the control environment for outsourced functions. They have limitations, such as not meeting FISMA requirements and the AICPA is considering changing some requirements. Users should also keep up with the planned changes in the relevant professional standards (both AICPA and International Standards) that will enhance the overall concept of the service auditor's report from the SAS 70 examination level report to an attest report where management of the service organization will assert to their controls as a component of the audit report. Details of those planned changes are included in the research report.

"The federal government has seen a big increase in the outsourcing of functions, especially financial functions, in the past decade," said AGA Director of Research Anna D. Gowans Miller, MBA, CPA. "The organization that outsources its financial functions is still responsible for providing assurance that the controls are adequate and, with proper planning and communication with the service provider, SAS 70 reports provide a cost-effective way for the user organization to provide this assurance."

The research project was sponsored by Ernst & Young LLP's Federal Assurance and Advisory Practice. AGA's Miller led this effort. She was aided by Werner Lippuner and James Merrill, both with Ernst & Young LLP.

View the report.

Questions: Contact Anna Miller at 800.AGA.7211, ext. 313.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Defense comptroller leaves for industry job

The Defense Department's top financial official stepped down last week for a job in private industry, after more than four years in the position.

Defense comptroller Tina Jonas' last day was Sept. 26, said Cmdr. Darryn James, a Pentagon spokesman. She started her new job as director of operations, planning and analysis for Sikorsky Aircraft Corp. on Monday, a company spokeswoman confirmed.

Career civil servant Kevin Scheid "will keep things running" until a new comptroller is nominated and confirmed, James said. Scheid also will retain his duties as deputy comptroller for strategy, capabilities and acquisition.

-Bob Brewin, GovExec.com

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Today's GAO Publication

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

Financial Management: Persistent Financial Management Systems Issues Remain for Many CFO Act Agencies.
GAO-08-1018, September 30.
Highlights - http://www.gao.gov/highlights/d081018high.pdf

Bush signs funding bill in final hours of the fiscal year

President Bush on Tuesday evening signed into law a more than $600 billion continuing resolution package that funds the federal government through March 6. It includes three fiscal 2009 appropriations bills and $22.9 billion for disaster relief.

The bill funds most programs at fiscal 2008 levels but includes the fiscal 2009 Defense, Military Construction-VA and Homeland Security spending bills. Of the $22.9 billion in disaster relief funding, $7.9 billion goes into the Federal Emergency Management Agency's disaster relief fund.

The CR also grants a 3.9 percent 2009 pay raise to civilian federal employees.

The Senate passed the bill Saturday after the House approved it last Wednesday. The CR was needed because Congress had not passed any of the 12 annual appropriations that fund government programs. House Democratic appropriators grew discouraged with the appropriations process this year after Bush issued a pre-emptive threat earlier this year to veto any bill that spent more than he recommended.


Today's GAO Publication

The Government Accountability Office (GAO) today issued the following Decision of the Comptroller General:

Appropriations Decisions:
B-316796, Federal Aviation Administration--Authority to Auction Airport Arrival and Departure Slots and to Retain and Use Auction Proceeds,
September 30, 2008

Monday, September 29, 2008

GAO outlines top challenges for next president

The next president will have to confront a wide-ranging set of challenges, ranging from fixing the nation’s outdated financial regulatory agencies to reducing improper payments, according to the Government Accountability Office.

GAO outlined 22 issues it expects will be priorities for the next administration. The report was released last week. Many of the issues are already on the agency’s list of high-risk programs, including food safety, the 2010 census, and contractor oversight at the Defense Department. But it also includes several new cross-cutting challenges that will confront the new president.

-Gregg Carlstrom, FederalTimes.com

FASAB Seeks Candidates for Board Membership

The Federal Accounting Standards Advisory Board (FASAB) is seeking individuals interested in serving a five-year term as a member of the board. FASAB is identifying candidates for two vacancies occurring on July 1, 2009, when board members James Patton and John Farrell will have completed their service. FASAB is particularly interested in candidates who have experience as: analysts of financial information, economists or forecasters, academics, auditors, preparers of financial information, or those otherwise knowledgeable regarding the use of financial information in decision-making.

The registry is open to those not currently employed by the federal government. If you are interested in serving but need more information, the FASAB website includes a "Statement of Board Members' Responsibilities," a list of current members and a fact sheet. The nonfederal members serve as part-time special government employees and are compensated at an hourly rate for attendance at board meetings and an equivalent amount of time for preparation (typically 200 hours per year).

The registry will be provided to the appointments panel in January 2009. The panel--comprising three federal members, the FASAB chairman and three individuals representing the American Institute of CPAs, the Financial Accounting Foundation and the Accounting Research Association--advises the FASAB sponsors on appointments and re-appointments for the six nonfederal members of the board. The sponsors--the Secretary of the Treasury, the director of the Office of Management and Budget, and the Comptroller General--make the final appointment.

Individuals wishing to be added to the registry should submit a resume, addressed before Dec. 19, 2008 to: Wendy M. Payne, Executive Director, Federal Accounting Standards Advisory Board, 441 G St. NW, Mailstop 6K17V, Washington, D.C. 20548 or fasab@fasab.gov.

FMSB Comments on GASB, IFAC Proposals

AGA's Financial Management Standards Board (FMSB) has issued two comment letters, one to the Professional Accountants in Business Committee of the International Federation of Accountants (IFAC) on its proposed Good Practice Guidance document, Costing to Drive Organizational Performance, and the other to the Governmental Accounting Standards Board (GASB) on its proposed Technical Bulletin, Determining the Annual Required Contribution (ARC) Adjustment for Postemployment Benefits. Read the IFAC letter. Read the GASB letter.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

An investigation’s cost

Today’s FBI is a threat-based, intelligence-driven, technologically supported agency of more than 30,000 employees working in 56 field offices in the U.S. and 61 Legal Attaché offices overseas. These employees combat threats as diverse as terrorism, corporate fraud, cybercrime, human trafficking, violent crime and money laundering.

Making optimum use of the FBI’s large and geographically dispersed work force, as well as its $7 billion budget, takes on enhanced importance — and difficulty — when viewed against the backdrop of the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, and the resulting transformation of the FBI to an agency that fuses intelligence into its national security and law enforcement functions.

The FBI’s chief financial officer, through the Finance Division, is a key partner in achieving the FBI’s mission. While the Finance Division’s contributions can take many forms, two of the most important are providing accurate and useful financial information for decision-making and being a change agent for improved operations and efficient use of resources.

The CFO’s office has been a driving force to bring about, through the budget process, more integrated thinking and comprehensive analysis of FBI programs. As part of this effort, the FBI has adopted a multiyear budgeting cycle, enabling better business planning and the analysis of the out-year impact of current budget decisions, particularly the impact on information technology, space and other infrastructure requirements. This approach also makes the FBI planning cycle consistent with that of the U.S. intelligence community, improving its ability to coordinate with the Director of National Intelligence and the other intelligence agencies.

To be fully successful, both the planning process and daily operations need timely, accurate and useful information. While not the complete answer, information derived from audited financial statements is certainly part of this equation. In recent years, the FBI has made steady progress in improving the quality of its financial statements; its fiscal 2007 statement received an “unqualified” opinion with no financial material weaknesses or significant deficiencies. This accomplishment is significant because it was achieved using an antiquated financial system scheduled for replacement.

Beyond financial statement data, the CFO’s office strives to provide information needed to plan and execute FBI responsibilities in the most effective and efficient manner. An example of such information is a current effort to determine the cost of an investigation. Costs will be calculated based on the type of investigation, size of field office and other variables. By analyzing and comparing this data, program managers at FBI headquarters and special agents in charge of field offices will be able to identify best practices, problem areas, and other insights of how to best utilize bureau resources. The CFO’s goal is to be both proactive in identifying areas where better financial data would improve decision-making, as well as to serve as a ready resource to program managers needing assistance in developing and analyzing financial data.

In addition to budget and accounting, the Finance Division is also responsible for the FBI’s acquisition function. The FBI procures nearly $3 billion of goods and services annually, much of which is for information technology and other sophisticated equipment. The structure allows for better coordination among budget, procurement and accounting personnel, thus enabling the FBI to integrate budget formulation, multiyear acquisition requirements, and accountability of its resources.

With the expansion of its size and responsibilities, the FBI is, in many ways, like a large corporation with multiple business lines. Taking a page from the private sector, the Finance Division is hiring personnel with business backgrounds to focus on business process re-engineering to realize cost savings and improved operations. Through this and its other efforts, the CFO’s office can — and must — be a key contributor to the FBI’s mission as it embarks on its next 100 years.

-Rich Haley on FederalTimes.com
Rich Haley is the FBI Finance Division assistant director and chief financial officer.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Today's GAO Publications

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

Social Security Disability: Management Controls Needed to Strengthen Demonstration Projects.
GAO-08-1053, September 26.
Highlights - http://www.gao.gov/highlights/d081053high.pdf

DOD Financial Management: Improvements Are Needed in Antideficiency Act Controls and Investigations.
GAO-08-1063, September 26.
Highlights - http://www.gao.gov/highlights/d081063high.pdf

Information Management: The National Archives and Records Administration's Fiscal Year 2008 Expenditure Plan.
GAO-08-1105, September 26.
Highlights - http://www.gao.gov/highlights/d081105high.pdf

Federal User Fees: Improvements Could Be Made to Performance Standards and Penalties in USCIS's Service Center Contracts.
GAO-08-1170R, September 25.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Admiral Allen Speaks to Chief Financial Officer Academy at the National Defense University

Adm. Thad W. Allen, Coast Guard Commandant, addresses speaks to a class at the Information Resource Management College Sept 24.

Watch the video here.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Deal clears way for bill giving IGs greater independence

House and Senate negotiators and the White House have reached agreement on a bill intended to increase the independence of inspectors general, clearing the way for probable passage of the measure before Congress adjourns.

Senate supporters hoped the measure would be taken up Wednesday under a unanimous consent agreement, although delay was possible. The House is expected to take up the measure as one of a series of bills considered under suspension, most likely Thursday.

Agreement on the bill follows months of discussions aimed at reconciling a stronger House bill with a Senate measure while heading off opposition from the White House and some Senate Republicans. Talks picked up in recent weeks, with the House largely accepting several tweaks in the Senate bill aimed at the addressing White House concerns, aides said. The bill was first drafted by Rep. Jim Cooper, D-Tenn., who has pushed it for years.

The final bill omits a provision backed by House Judiciary Committee Chairman John Conyers, D-Mich., that would have shifted certain responsibilities for overseeing Justice Department lawyers from the department's Office of Professional Responsibility to the inspector general's office. Conyers has backed Justice IG Glenn Fine's assertion that his office is better suited for those tasks because it is independent from the department, but Republicans opposed the measure.

Though the bill was still being finalized Wednesday, House negotiators appear to have dropped a provision limiting IGs to seven-year terms and accepted a watered-down version of a provision mandating the IGs can only be fired for cause.

Senate Minority Whip Jon Kyl, R-Ariz., who worked with the White House on the bill, won inclusion in the Senate bill of language allowing the president to temporarily suspend IGs, regardless of the cause provision.

An administration official said the White House dropped a veto threat due to those changes and because lawmakers agreed to drop language that would have allowed IGs to submit budget requests directly to Congress.

-Dan Friedman, GovExec.com