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Friday, August 29, 2008

Today's GAO Publication

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

Grants Management: Attention Needed to Address Undisbursed Balances in Expired Grant Accounts.
GAO-08-432, August 29
http://www.gao.gov/cgi-bin/getrpt?GAO-08-432
Highlights - http://www.gao.gov/highlights/d08432high.pdf

Thursday, August 28, 2008

FederalNewsRadio - Ask the CFO - Charles Christopherson (USDA)

U.S. Department of Agriculture

Charles Christopherson - Chief Financial Officer

The Agriculture Department's financial management is on the mend in many ways.
USDA received a qualified opinion from its auditors, meaning there were questions about how one of its bureaus manages its money. The bureau and the entire department are on track to have a clean audit opinion for fiscal 2008.

The department is also making strides in implementing a new financial management system.
Both of these goals are part of Charles Christopherson's plans before he leaves USDA in January.
The Chief Financial Officer has about five months left in his term and his list of priorities are trying to set Agriculture on solid footing for years to come.

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Thursday, August 21, 2008

Federal Executive Position Openings

The following information relates to three open federal positions being recruited by JDG Associates, LTD. Interested parties may contact:

Joseph DeGioia
JDG Associates, Ltd.
1700 Research Boulevard
Rockville, MD 20850
301-340-2210
Email: degioia@jdgsearch.com

Deputy Chief Financial Officer, Small Business Administration

Education: Bachelors in Business, Finance, or Accounting is highly desirable; CPA, CGFM and/or MBA/MPA preferred

Location: Washington, DC

Compensation: To $158,500 + bonus eligibility (Senior Executive Service-level position)

EEO: All candidates will be considered without regard to race, gender, age, religion, sexual orientation, national origin, or disability. The SBA provides reasonable accommodations to individuals with disabilities.

Deadline: To be considered, applications must be received no later than midnight, September 15, 2008.

Citizenship: U.S. Citizenship required.

Deputy Controller, Government Accountability Office
Education: Bachelors in Business, Finance, or Accounting is highly desirable; CPA, CGFM and/or MBA/MPA preferred

Location: Washington, DC

Compensation: To $169,300 + bonus eligibility (Senior Executive Service)


EEO: All candidates will be considered without regard to race, gender, age, religion, sexual orientation, national origin, or disability. The GAO provides reasonable accommodations to applicants with disabilities.

Deadline: To be considered, applications must be received no later than midnight, September 15, 2008.

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

Director, Strategic Acquisition Service (Chief Procurement Officer), Department of Health and Human Services, Program Support Center

Education: Bachelors required

Location: Rockville, MD

Compensation: To $172,200 plus 12% bonus potential.

EEO: All candidates will be considered without regard to race, color, religion, sexual orientation, gender, national origin, political affiliation, age (with authorized exceptions), disability, or any other non-merit factor.

Deadline: To be considered, applications must be received no later than midnight, September 28, 2008.

Citizenship: U.S. Citizenship required.

Friday, August 08, 2008

Grades on management score card fall

Many federal agencies have taken a step backward on the Bush administration's five major management initiatives, according to quarterly grades released on Thursday by the Office of Management and Budget.

There were 14 downgrades on the status section of OMB's management score card for the third quarter of 2008, which ended June 30. And there were only six instances in which grades improved.

The problems were limited to two areas of the President's Management Agenda: human capital and electronic government.

Eight agencies' e-government scores declined on the traffic-light-style system, with seven dropping to red, signifying unsatisfactory performance. Only two agencies improved their grades in that area.

Meanwhile, six of the 26 agencies that are evaluated by OMB had their human capital score drop a notch, generally from green to yellow; one agency moved up a level.

OMB did recognize slight upticks in the scores on commercial services management -- previously called competitive sourcing -- and in the category of performance improvement. Scores did not change in the financial management category.

The Environmental Protection Agency, Social Security Administration and Labor Department each earned perfect scores of green in all five categories. The Homeland Security and Veterans Affairs departments had the worst scores, with three categories in the red.

As in most quarters, the scores were generally much higher on a separate chart that mapped the progress agencies had shown in implementing the goals of the PMA.

On the second quarter score card, OMB credited agencies with seven improvements and five declines. And, on the first quarter score card, agencies moved up 12 times compared to only three declines.

-Robert Brodsky, GovExec.com
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Thursday, August 07, 2008

Today's GAO Publications

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

DOD Business Systems Modernization: Key Navy Programs' Compliance with DOD's Federated Business Enterprise Architecture Needs to Be Adequately Demonstrated.
GAO-08-972, August 7.
http://www.gao.gov/cgi-bin/getrpt?GAO-08-972
Highlights - http://www.gao.gov/highlights/d08972high.pdf

"The Role of the U.S. Government Accountability Office," a presentation by Gene L. Dodaro, acting comptroller general of the United States, before the House Democracy Assistance Commission, in Washington, D.C.
GAO-08-1089CG, July 31, 2008.
http://www.gao.gov/cghome/d081089cg.pdf

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Treasury makes progress on financial reporting

"The Treasury Department is making progress in modernizing its accounting and financial reporting systems so agency data will be more accurate and consistent, Ken Carfine, Treasury’s fiscal assistant secretary, said today.

The department is reducing the number of older systems and developing new ones for its Financial Management Service (FMS) to help agencies track payment transactions, he said.

The changes are designed to fix weaknesses in how Treasury and other major agencies report their financial activities and reconcile their transactions with one another, Carfine said at FMS’ annual Government Financial Management Conference.

Because of those weaknesses, the Government Accountability Office has been unable to give an audit opinion about the federal government’s consolidated financial statement for the past 11 years. GAO officials have said the weaknesses make the data unreliable."

-Mary Mosquera, FCW.com

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Monday, August 04, 2008

Senate committee backs measure to reduce payment errors

The Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee Wednesday approved legislation designed to beef up efforts to recover improper payments made by the government.

Several years in the making, the bill (S. 2583) was crafted in response to testimony by the Office of Management and Budget and other agencies that money improperly spent was not being recovered in sufficient amounts.

The bill, which passed on a voice vote, calls for every governmental agency to designate an individual to be in charge of recovering erroneous payments and puts in enforcement provisions to underscore the effort.

Under the legislation, if an agency can show that it is doing the work, it will get extra money for enforcement. Conversely, if Congress determines that sufficient progress is not being made, the agency would have to submit to a re-authorization process, or ultimately, freeze their budget.

As originally introduced, the bill's enforcement provision called for a suspension of appropriations to the agency if it did not collect sufficient payments. But Carper said the language was softened a bit to make it less onerous.

Each agency with outlays of $1 or more has to conduct a recovery audit of all programs and activities to assist in recouping improper payments. OMB is charged with providing guidance to the agencies and preparing an annual report on the results.

Similar legislation has been introduced in the House, but no action has yet been taken.

-Elaine Povich, GovExec.com
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Friday, August 01, 2008

Federal financial reporting system is broken, CFOs say

The system federal agencies use to prepare, present and audit financial statements is broken. That's the take-away message from a recent survey of 239 financial management executives across government.

"The current financial reporting model costs too much and delivers little useful information to government decision-makers," accounting firm Grant Thornton LLP and the Association of Government Accountants concluded from the survey. "Many of our survey respondents question the value of much of the work that they must do, especially in meeting compliance mandates."

The report noted, "All signs point toward a bleak fiscal future for the federal government. Massive deficits and the costs of overseas conflicts mean fewer resources for programs and some tough budget decisions. If [CFOs] stay on the present path of financial management, they will be of little use in making those decisions."

While agencies have made significant progress in achieving clean audit opinions on financial statements, few people actually read those statements and even fewer regard the data as useful in making executive-level decisions. As one survey respondent noted: "We are getting As on our tests but not learning anything."

One reason for this is that financial officials are so focused on complying with reporting and auditing requirements under various laws that broader management goals get lost in the process. The survey found that less than 25 percent of a CFO's time and resources was spent on executive functions that support strategic and program decision-making.

Since 2000, six separate financial reporting laws have taken effect, along with a number of requirements promulgated by the Office of Management and Budget and the Federal Accounting Standards Advisory Board. Those were in addition to several major laws governing federal financial reporting already on the books. While the net result is most agencies now are getting clean audit opinions and the government is a better steward of taxpayer money, the effect on management is far less clear.

The survey pointed to a number of things CFOs and senior executives can do to improve the relationship between financial reporting and mission performance, such as using more activity-based costing and requiring more integration between financial and acquisition systems.

But not everything needed is within agencies' control. A significant impediment to improving governmentwide financial management is the frequency with which agencies find themselves operating under continuing resolutions, which happens when Congress fails to pass appropriations bills on time. Lawmakers have approved all appropriations bills on time in only four of the past 30 years.

The survey entailed 121 in-person interviews and 118 online responses from CFOs, deputy CFOs, other financial executives and some senior managers. To encourage respondents to speak freely, Grant Thornton and AGA did not release the identities of survey participants.

- Katherine McIntire Peters, GovExec.com

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