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Thursday, May 29, 2008

DHS financial systems project concerns IG

The Homeland Security Department should re-examine options for its financial systems consolidation project and correct outstanding software coding issues before fusing DHS components’ financial systems, according to a new report from the department’s inspector general.

DHS plans to migrate its component agencies’ financial information technology systems into two platforms — one from Oracle and one from SAP. According to the IG's report, DHS officials said they chose those platforms because they are familiar with them.

However, the IG said that in making that decision, officials did not consider solutions other agencies are using or that are available in a shared-services environment, and they should do so before moving forward with TASC.

DHS officials said they had received a verbal waiver from the Office of Management and Budget, which endorsed DHS’ decision to consolidate the systems without further competition. However, the IG said policy requires that those waiver requests be published in the Federal Register.

After a draft report was issued earlier this year, a federal claims court ruled that DHS’ decision to settle on Oracle and SAP systems was an improper sole-source procurement. It ordered DHS to hold an open competition before moving forward on the project. According to the IG report, RMTO is re-evaluating its consolidation strategy as a result of that ruling.

The IG’s review of the project also found that DHS needs to improve performance by chronicling and analyzing scripts, or software code, that have been added to the Oracle-based financial management systems of the Transportation Security Administration and the Coast Guard. The IG said those additions demonstrated that controls on the systems are not properly designed and financial data could be compromised.

The IG recommended that DHS:
  • Conduct a full evaluation of financial service providers available through government agencies to see if they can meet DHS' needs more efficiently.
  • Identify all scripts that the Coast Guard and TSA are using and determine their effects on the financial transactions of the agencies and DHS.
  • Correct the scripts before migrating to the new financial system.
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