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The next president will have to confront a wide-ranging set of challenges, ranging from fixing the nation’s outdated financial regulatory agencies to reducing improper payments, according to the Government Accountability Office.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

Today's GAO Publications

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

Audit of Special Counsel Expenditures for the 6 Months Ended March 31, 2008.
GAO-08-1122R, September 24.

Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation: Improvements Needed to Address Financial and Management Challenges, by Barbara D. Bovbjerg, director, education, workforce, and income security, before the Subcommittee on Oversight, House Committee on Ways and Means.
GAO-08-1162T, September 24.
Highlights - http://www.gao.gov/highlights/d081162thigh.pdf

Federal managers pessimistic about government performance

Federal managers see much room for improvement in government efficiency, but are skeptical that a new presidential administration will make an immediate difference, according to a report released on Monday.

One-third of 382 managers surveyed in August by software company Primavera Systems and marketing firm O'Keeffe & Co. said the government misuses tax dollars. Seventeen percent gave their agency an A for effectiveness, while 37 percent offered a B, 30 percent assigned a C and 12 percent gave a D. The remaining 4 percent flunked their agency.

The groups also canvassed 3,868 members of the general public in July, and uncovered similar disenchantment. Forty-two percent of citizens said government wastes money, and just 10 percent said they thought federal management practices work. The survey had a margin of error of about 1.6 percent for the public and 5 percent for managers.

Additionally, respondents were doubtful that the upcoming change in presidential administrations will help the situation, at least in the near term. Eighty-five percent of federal managers said management reform should be a high priority for the next president and 47 percent said the next administration should develop a more effective management agenda. But 63 percent predicted that performance accountability will suffer during the transition and reform efforts will falter.

-Alyssa Rosenberg, GovExec.com

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

DHS to try again for new financial system

The Homeland Security Department will try for a second time to integrate as many as eight disparate financial management systems.

Each DHS component currently uses different systems that range from in-house developed software to services provided by the Bureau of Public Debt to the Coast Guard's Oracle system to manage their money.

The department says it will issue a request for proposals for the Transformation and Systems Consolidation (TASC) initiative by Sept. 30.

The notice says DHS is looking for an integrated financial management, asset management and acquisition management system as well as program management, change management and integration services.

The contract, which some in industry estimate to be worth about $400 million, is for three years with seven one-year options.

Unlike the first attempt, known as Emerge, the contract asks vendors to submit their best system and does not call for one specific type of product.

DHS tried to issue the RFP for TASC about 6 months ago, but Savantage protested the requirements because they called for a specific type of product.

The Government Accountability Office upheld Savantage's protest and DHS is just releasing the modified RFP in the next week.

Several large financial management systems integrators are interested, vendor sources say. They include: Accenture, CGI, CSC, Deloitte, IBM and Savantage.

Vendor sources say they expect DHS to make a new award by next Spring.

-Jason Miller, FederalNewsRadio.com


Today's GAO Publications

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

Veterans' Benefits: Improvements Needed in VA's Training and Performance Management Systems, by Daniel Bertoni, director, education, workforce, and income security, before the Subcommittee on Disability Assistance and Memorial Affairs, House Committee on Veterans' Affairs.
GAO-08-1126T, September 18.
Highlights - http://www.gao.gov/highlights/d081126thigh.pdf

Veterans Affairs: Additional Details Are Needed in Key Planning Documents to Guide the New Financial and Logistics Initiative.
GAO-08-1097, September 22.
Highlights - http://www.gao.gov/highlights/d081097high.pdf

Saturday, September 20, 2008

FederalNewsRadio - CFO Insights - Phyllis Scheinberg (DOT)

Shared Services: How it is changing the role of CFOs offices across the federal government.

Phyllis Scheinberg - Assistant Secretary for Budget and Programs/Chief Financial Officer, Department of Transportation

More federal agencies are expected to adopt the shared services model as a leading practice. Shared services, a model that consolidates support operations into a service-oriented organizational unit, can substantially improve back-office efficiencies by eliminating duplication and streamlining processes. Please join Phyllis F. Scheinberg, CFO, U.S. Department of Transportation and Richard Sarkissian, Principal, Deloitte Consulting LLP as they discuss how shared services are changing the face of CFOs across the federal government.


Organizations will continue to seek to balance cost reduction and risk mitigation through the optimal mix of on/off-shore captive shared service centers and outsourcing

Shared Services will continue to be a tool to help organizations eliminate redundant functions, reduce costs, and provide a platform to realize operational synergies through common processes and data

Use of Shared Services will be top of mind for many executives as they rethink their service delivery strategy in light of new strategic directions

Shared Services operations will continue to optimize and deliver increasing levels of value to the organizations' business units by enabling them to focus on core business activities and customers
Shared Services will become a source of new talent that can be incubated in the center and moved into global line management roles, both in country and internationally

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Today's GAO Publication

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

Department of Homeland Security: Progress and Continuing Concerns with Acquisition Management, by John P. Hutton, director, acquisition and sourcing management, before the Subcommittee on Management, Investigations, and Oversight, House Committee on Homeland Security.
GAO-08-1164T, September 17.
Highlights - http://www.gao.gov/highlights/d081164thigh.pdf

Monday, September 15, 2008

Today's GAO Publication

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

Defense Budget: Independent Review Is Needed to Ensure DOD's Use of Cost Estimating Tool for Contingency Operations Follows Best Practices.
GAO-08-982, September 15.
Highlights - http://www.gao.gov/highlights/d08982high.pdf

FASAB Releases Exposure Draft on Fiscal Sustainability Reporting

The Federal Accounting Standards Advisory Board (FASAB) has released an exposure draft called, Reporting Comprehensive Long-Term Fiscal Projections for the U.S. Government. One of FASAB's federal financial reporting objectives--the stewardship objective--includes enabling readers to determine whether future budgetary resources will likely be sufficient to sustain public services and to meet obligations as they come due. FASAB Chairman Tom Allen noted that "the question of the long-term fiscal sustainability of U.S. government services may be among the most important questions of our time. The board believes that fully meeting the stewardship objective requires non-traditional approaches to complement and enrich the information from the federal government's balance sheets and operating statements. The proposed reporting will include information about projected trends in the federal budget deficit or surplus and the federal debt and how t hese amounts relate to the national economy."

Comments on the exposure draft are requested by Jan. 5, 2009 and a public hearing will be held on Feb. 25, 2009. Paper copies are available by calling 202.512.7350.

Since the objective of the proposed reporting is not only to provide information that is useful and necessary in assessing fiscal sustainability, but also to effectively communicate the information in way that is meaningful and understandable to readers, FASAB is particularly interested in receiving comments from the public.

GASB Seeks Comment on Postemployment Benefits TB

Tuesday, Sept. 30 is the deadline for commenting on the Governmental Accounting Standards Board's (GASB) proposed Technical Bulletin, Determining the Annual Required Contribution for Postemployment Benefits.

The proposal can be downloaded free from the GASB website. This proposed TB would clarify that the use of known amounts for purposes of calculating the annual required contribution adjustment relating to pensions and other postemployment benefits is consistent with the intent of existing standards, and that use of the known amount in place of the estimation procedure is encouraged.

AGA's FMSB Comments on GAO Proposal

AGA's Financial Management Standards Board (FMSB) has issued a comment letter to the Government Accountability Office's (GAO) revisions to its Federal System Controls Audit Manual. The FMSB found the updated document to be comprehensive and very current and therefore useful to IT auditors.

Read the entire letter

Friday, September 12, 2008

Today's GAO Publications

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

Oil and Gas Royalties: The Federal System for Collecting Oil and Gas Revenues Needs Comprehensive Reassessment.
GAO-08-691, September 3.
Highlights - http://www.gao.gov/highlights/d08691high.pdf

Mineral Revenues: Data Management Problems and Reliance on Self-Reported Data for Compliance Efforts Put MMS Royalty Collections at Risk.
GAO-08-893R, September 12.

Bush administration publishes its final evaluation of program performance

The Bush administration on Friday published its final round of program performance ratings, leaving detailed assessments of more than 1,000 federal initiatives for its successors.

"The information ... should serve as a baseline and beginning for the next administration," said Robert Shea, the Office of Management and Budget's associate director for administration and government performance.

The final Bush administration evaluation indicated that 20 percent of programs are either ineffective or unable to provide meaningful information on their performance. The other 80 percent, OMB assessors concluded, are adequate or better. This round included scores for 67 programs that hadn't been rated before or had requested a reevaluation.

For the first time, agencies administering programs the Government Accountability Office has designated as high-risk outlined steps they are taking to address the watchdog agency's concerns. That information is included along with the program assessments on ExpectMore.gov.

Scores have improved significantly since the Bush administration introduced the Program Assessment Rating Tool. In February 2003, when OMB released the PART grades for the first major chunk of programs it planned to evaluate (20 percent), half couldn't demonstrate results, and just 44 percent were adequate or better.

"For the past seven years, OMB and federal agencies have done a tremendous job at assessing how well programs are working and where we fall short," Shea said.

-Amelia Gruber, GovExec.com

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Today's GAO Publication

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

Veterans Health Administration: Improvements Needed in Design of Controls over Miscellaneous Obligations.
GAO-08-976, September 11.
Highlights - http://www.gao.gov/highlights/d08976high.pdf

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Today's GAO Publications

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

Highway Bridge Program: Clearer Goals and Performance Measures Needed for a More Focused and Sustainable Program.
GAO-08-1043, September 10.
Highlights - http://www.gao.gov/highlights/d081043high.pdf

U.S. Postal Service: New Delivery Performance Measures Could Enhance Managers' Pay for Performance Program.
GAO-08-996, September 10.
Highlights - http://www.gao.gov/highlights/d08996high.pdf

Federal Real Property: Progress Made in Reducing Unneeded Property, but VA Needs Better Information to Make Further Reductions.
GAO-08-939, September 10.
Highlights - http://www.gao.gov/highlights/d08939high.pdf

Senator questions progress on federal spending Web site

A Web site launched last fall to track federal spending has not followed the law to provide up-to-date information on government contracts and grants, while a new bill would increase the amount of information agencies would have to post online.

The site, USAspending.gov, was launched in 2007 to fulfill one of the requirements of the 2006 Federal Funding Accountability and Transparency Act, which requires the Office of Management and Budget to maintain a site listing organizations that receive more than $25,000 in federal funds.

Sens. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., and Barack Obama, D-Ill., co-sponsored the funding accountability act, and when the bill was introduced, Obama said the spending site would be "an important milestone on the path to greater government transparency."

The law requires agencies to submit every 30 days a report listing the groups issued grants and the amount of the grant. USASpending.gov's data quality page shows, however, that some agencies, including the Homeland Security, Labor, Transportation and Veterans Affairs departments have not updated grant information since last year.

"OMB did a good job of getting the USAspending.gov Web site up and running, but now agencies must step up and fulfill their duties as required by law," Coburn wrote in an e-mail statement. "The agencies that are not posting information on each grant and contract awarded are violating the law. The American public deserves to know how their tax dollars are being spent."

In July, Robert Shea, then OMB's associate director for administration and government performance, attributed the lapse to glitches in the data provided to OMB, rather than a reluctance by agencies to submit the information. "I'm satisfied agencies are doing the best they can," said Shea, who stepped down from his OMB position on Sept. 2. "Everybody is making every effort to comply with the law. I'm proud of agency efforts to comply, and disappointed that we haven't been able to reflect that on USASpending."

Posting the grant data has proved problematic, Shea said, because, unlike contract data, grant data must be collected from various sources. Agencies are supposed to submit all grant awards to OMB by the 20th of each month, but he said, the data rarely comes in a format suitable for posting online and must be reformatted, which takes time. By contrast, OMB can pull data on contract awards directly from the federal procurement system in a format suitable for immediate posting.

The delays are caused by OMB bypassing current data reporting systems so it can post the grant data quickly, said Adam Hughes, director of federal fiscal policy at OMB Watch. The group's site, FederalSpending.org, downloads grant data collected and published by the Census Bureau. OMB attempts to obtain the data directly from agencies rather than wait for it to be published by Census.

"There hasn't been a robust reporting system for noncontract awards data," Hughes said. "That's what [Shea] is trying to improve on."

Hughes added that his organization has not been critical of OMB because the agency has demonstrated consistent progress in overcoming the challenges the site faces.
OMB also faces a federal funding accountability act deadline to begin posting subgrant and subcontract data on the site by Jan. 1, 2009. That includes grants and contracts awarded by federal agencies to state and local agencies, which then award that money to other groups. Shea said the challenge to meet the deadline is "enormous."

"There's a provision in the law for an extension for some of those [requirements] for another 18 months," he said. "I expect we'll exercise that extension. ... We have to figure out how to get as much of that data as we can as soon as possible."

Hughes said the difficulty in meeting the deadline to post subgrant and subcontract data was no surprise. "We knew when the first law was passed that the subaward reporting would be very difficult. I think that's being realized currently," he said. "That doesn't mean you shouldn't do it, but I think the timelines are a little unrealistic."

The problems with posting data on the site may be compounded by another bill sponsored by Coburn, Obama and Sens. John McCain, R-Ariz., and Tom Carper, D-Del. The 2008 Strengthening Transparency and Accountability in Federal Spending Act, introduced on June 3, expands the requirements of the spending Web site.

The bill, which has been referred to the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, would require agencies to submit requests for proposals and contract information for posting on USASpending.gov to the site, allowing citizens to compare what the government asked for to what it purchased. In addition the bill would require the site to publish performance data on the contract and disclose additional information on the entities that receive federal awards.

"We're hoping the reaction to the new bill won't be 'It's too hard, we shouldn't do it,' " Hughes said. "We're hoping for a dialogue on how we can get this to work. We think this information is valuable and important." OMB Watch helped write both bills.

The bill also would require the site to provide better search capability and to offer data in a machine readable format such as XML. In addition, the bill requires agencies to certify that the entities receiving awards do not owe taxes.

Shea said he hopes OMB publishes the data in a way that allows the public to better track spending and determine if agencies could have spent the money better. "The purpose of sunlight is to cure wrong, and I just don't think the information is being used for that purpose yet," he said.

Asked if the site's visitors could track if agencies were spending money wisely, he replied, "I don't see that happening."

-Gautham Nagesh, NextGov.com

Bill would expand management officers' roles

The fiscal 2009 defense authorization bill, S.3001, under consideration by the Senate today would assign chief management officers (CMOs) in each military department to lead the Defense Department's business transformation efforts.

In addition to giving DOD permission to continue major programs and operations, including the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, S. 3001 would direct DOD’s deputy CMO to become vice chairman of the Defense Business Systems Management Committee, which advises the Defense secretary on policies, procedures and activities for business process improvement. The 2008 authorization bill created the deputy CMO position.

Deputy Defense Secretary Gordon England is chairman of the management committee. Last year, DOD officials appointed him to be the department’s first CMO after initially opposing establishment of the position.

In the past, the Government Accountability Office has recommended in audits and congressional hearings that DOD appoint a full-time CMO to focus on more effective management and business transformation because DOD has so many programs on GAO’s high-risk list. GAO has cited serious problems in DOD’s financial management, contract management and weapons system acquisition, among other activities.

The 2009 defense bill would direct each military agency to implement a business transformation plan, an enterprise business systems architecture and a transition plan under the leadership of its CMO. Each agency would establish an Office of Business Transformation to help the CMO carry out the initiative.

-Mary Mosquera, FCW.com

Monday, September 08, 2008

Today's GAO Publication

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

DOD Business Systems Modernization: Important Management Controls Being Implemented on Major Navy Program, but Improvements Needed in Key Areas.
GAO-08-896, September 8.
Highlights - http://www.gao.gov/highlights/d08896high.pdf

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Agencies must create performance snapshots

All major agencies must produce a two-page snapshot of their performance and financial results for fiscal 2008 to improve annual reporting, the Office of Management and Budget said in guidance released Aug. 29.

OMB also provided an online template to help agencies create the snapshots, which they must finalize by Dec. 15, the memo states.

Last year, some agencies experimented with different ways to present their Performance and Accountability Reports (PARs) to make their data more readable and useful to Congress and the public, said Robert Shea, associate director for administration and government performance at OMB, and Danny Werfel, deputy controller in OMB’s Office of Federal Financial Management, who wrote the memo. Agency PARs typically contain hundreds of pages and can be difficult to navigate, OMB has said.

“A three-tiered, drill-down reporting structure will allow agencies to provide information that is easily accessible to a diverse set of readers and stakeholders,” they wrote in the memo, which they sent to agencies’ program improvement officers and chief financial officers.

Under the PAR pilot program, several agencies produced a highlights section for their fiscal 2007 reports. The section summarized their performance, efforts to overcome shortcomings, key goals and how funds were spent relative to those goals, the officials said.

This year, the agencies participating in the pilot program and all major agencies must publish the two-page Budget, Performance and Financial Snapshot, which should also contain hyperlinks to more detailed agency information. The snapshots will act as executive summaries for the highlights or Citizens’ Reports, which the pilot participants must provide in January. Shea and Werfel encouraged non-participating agencies to also produce Citizens’ Reports of 25 or fewer pages. Those reports are due in January.

OMB said it plans to publish a governmentwide performance results report in January 2009.

Agencies not participating in the pilot programs must generate the comprehensive PAR by Nov. 17, which includes Agency Financial and Annual Performance reports, the memo states. Those participating in the pilot must also publish their financial reports by Nov. 17.

Because the pilot agencies incorporate their performance reports into their congressional budget justifications, they must update the reports to include fiscal 2010 performance targets, which the next president will submit in January with the fiscal 2010 budget, the OMB officials said.

- Mary Mosquera, FCW.com


Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Today's GAO Publication

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

Drug-Free Communities Support Program: Stronger Internal Controls and Other Actions Needed to Better Manage the Grant-Making Process.
GAO-08-57, July 31.
Highlights - http://www.gao.gov/highlights/d0857high.pdf

FASAB Releases Exposure Draft on Fiscal Sustainability Reporting

The Federal Accounting Standards Advisory Board (FASAB) plans to release an exposure draft later today called, Reporting Comprehensive Long-Term Fiscal Projections for the U.S. Government. One of FASAB's federal financial reporting objectives--the stewardship objective--includes enabling readers to determine whether future budgetary resources will likely be sufficient to sustain public services and to meet obligations as they come due. FASAB Chairman Tom Allen noted that "the question of the long-term fiscal sustainability of U.S. government services may be among the most important questions of our time. The board believes that fully meeting the stewardship objective requires non-traditional approaches to complement and enrich the information from the federal government's balance sheets and operating statements. The proposed reporting will include information about projected trends in the federal budget deficit or surplus and the federa l debt and how these amounts relate to the national economy."

Comments on the exposure draft are requested by Jan. 5, 2009 and a public hearing will be held on Feb. 25, 2009. Paper copies are available by calling 202.512.7350.

GASB Seeks Comment on Two Exposure Drafts

The Governmental Accounting Standards Board (GASB) issued two Exposure Drafts Aug. 28 that propose to transfer accounting and financial reporting guidance currently contained in the AICPA auditing literature into the GASB's accounting and financial reporting literature. The proposals intend to make it easier for preparers of financial statements to identify and apply guidance on related party transactions, going concern considerations, subsequent events, and the GAAP hierarchy for state and local governments. The guidance would be moved without substantive changes. The Exposure Drafts can be downloaded at no charge from the GASB website. Written comments should be provided by Oct. 30, 2008.