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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
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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

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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.
http://www.gao.gov/cgi-bin/getrpt?GAO-09-129
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

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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

www.gao.gov/financial/fy2008financialreport.html.

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.

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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.
http://www.gao.gov/cgi-bin/getrpt?GAO-09-132R

Status of GAO Recommendations to the Department of Defense (Fiscal Years 2001-2007).
GAO-09-201R, December 11.
http://www.gao.gov/cgi-bin/getrpt?GAO-09-201R

Troubled Asset Relief Program: Additional Actions Needed to Better Ensure Integrity, Accountability, and Transparency.
GAO-09-266T, December 10
http://www.gao.gov/cgi-bin/getrpt?GAO-09-266T

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
http://www.gao.gov/cgi-bin/getrpt?GAO-09-92

Actions Taken to Implement the Post-Katrina Emergency Management Reform Act of 2006.
GAO-09-59R, November 21
http://www.gao.gov/cgi-bin/getrpt?GAO-09-59R

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

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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

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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
http://www.gao.gov/cgi-bin/getrpt?GAO-09-161
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
http://www.gao.gov/cgi-bin/getrpt?GAO-09-12
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."

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