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Thursday, August 20, 2009

Labor’s New Financial System

The end of the federal fiscal year is tough enough, but come Oct. 1, Dept. of Labor CFO Lisa Fiely is overseeing the implementation of a new agency financial system.

Lisa says the agency is installing Oracle Federal Financials Release 12, the second federal agency to use that version. She’s also working to distribute $34 billion the agency has received in Recovery Act money, although a large amount is being added to already existing programs. “Like everyone, we want to get the money out quickly, but we’re taking extra steps to make sure it’s out helping the economy before we report as such.”

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Same Old Money Problems at CNCS, Part II

Audit shows lack of scrutiny of grantees' financial skills

The second report in two weeks about financial management problems at the Corporation for National and Community Service, the parent agency of AmeriCorps, has been issued by the agency's Office of Inspector General; this one is about the lack of scrutiny given new grantees' financial expertise.

Primarily, the audit found, the agency relies on the grantees' own assessment of their financial abilities - as reported on a Financial Management Survey each must complete - but provide little or no follow-up assistance, even to those groups that say they do not have the capabilities to comply with all the federal management regulations.

In addition, the audit found it was unclear if CNCS personnel had even looked at the most of those required Financial Management Surveys. And though the surveys were supposed to be part of a grantee's record, those forms could not be located for 15 percent of the grantees they reviewed.

Just as the special evaluation of the 2008 budget process - requested by the House Appropriations subcommittee that oversees the agency and released earlier this month - found many of the same profound management deficiencies that had been identified five years earlier, the latest audit identified as continuing problems many of the same ones that were found in a similar audit more than a decade ago.

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Tuesday, August 18, 2009

CFO Academy - Preparing Tomorrow's Federal Financial Leaders

Guest: Ricardo Aguilera, U.S. Department of Defense Comptroller Chair, CFO Academy

Deloitte SME: Edward Van Buren, Principal, Deloitte Consulting LLP

In fall 2008, the National Defense University's Information Resources Management College opened a Chief Financial Officer Academy at Fort McNair in Washington, DC, featuring Pentagongraduate level courses for government financial managers. The CFO Academy's purpose is to prepare middle- to senior-level members of the federal financial community for senior 21st Century management and leadership responsibilities.

The Academy offers a variety of courses to prepare financial leaders, including lessons in accounting and finance, budget and cost analysis, internal controls and auditing, financial systems, and resource management.

The courses lead to a certificate in CFO leadership.

To learn more about the Academy visit www.ndu.edu/irmc.

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Monday, August 17, 2009

Recent DHS OIG Reports

Recent Inspector General Reports and Resources for U.S. Department of Homeland Security:

OIG-09-93 - Review of U.S. Coast Guard Enterprise Architecture Implementation Process
(PDF, 25 pages - 481 KB) NEW 8/17/2009

OIG-09-74 - Advisory Report: Department of Homeland Security's Capabilities to Implement the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009
(PDF, 17 pages - 2.69 MB)

Recent GAO Publications

The Government Accountability Office (GAO) recently issued the following publications:

Presentations By The Acting Comptroller General

1. "Ensuring Accountability in a Time of Financial and Fiscal Stress," by Gene L. Dodaro, acting comptroller general, before the American Institute of CPAs' National Governmental Accounting and Auditing Update Conference, in Washington, D.C. GAO-09-930CG, August 10, 2009.
http://www.gao.gov/cghome/d09930cg.pdf

2. "Ensuring Accountability in a Time of Financial and Fiscal Stress," by Gene L. Dodaro, acting comptroller general, before the National Association of State Auditors, Comptrollers, and Treasurers' 2009 annual conference, in Dearborn, Michigan. GAO-09-952CG, August 17, 2009
http://www.gao.gov/cghome/d09952cg.pdf

Appropriations Decisions:

B-318386, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service--Steller's and Spectacled
Eiders Conservation Plan, August 12, 2009
http://www.gao.gov/decisions/appro/318386.htm

Because considerable conservation efforts over several years have
not halted the decline of two threatened eider species, GAO will
not object to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's (FWS) proposed
use of appropriated funds to purchase and distribute caps and other
items to residents of Alaska North Slope communities in furtherance
of the agency's eider conservation plan. FWS will print images of
the threatened eiders on these items and, for some items, include
eider conservation messages. The items, which FWS will distribute
as part of agency outreach events, will help residents identify the
threatened species and serve as reminders of the agency's
conservation message.

B-318325, National Indian Gaming Commission--Reimbursing Bicyclists
as Part of the Agency's Transportation Fringe Benefit Program,
August 12, 2009
http://www.gao.gov/decisions/appro/318325.htm

Under the federal government's transportation fringe benefit
program, as established by 5 U.S.C. sect. 7905 and Executive Order
No. 13150, the National Indian Gaming Commission (NIGC) provides
monthly transit subsidies to employees who certify that they use
mass transit to commute to and from work. NIGC may use its
authority under 5 U.S.C. sect. 7905 to extend the program to
provide a $20 cash reimbursement to those employees who commute to
and from work by bicycle. If NIGC chooses to do so, NIGC should
consider the provisions of the Internal Revenue Code, 26 U.S.C.
sect. 132(f)(5), and guidance provided by the Internal Revenue
Service and the Office of Management and Budget.

Other Decisions:

B-317634, Inclusion of Public-Private Partnership Roadways in
Calculating Total Lane Miles When Apportioning Highway Trust Funds,
August 17, 2009
http://www.gao.gov/decisions/other/317634.htm

Responding to a request for an opinion from Senator Bingaman,
Chairman, Subcommittee on Energy, Natural Resources and
Infrastructure, Committee on Finance, GAO has issued an opinion
concluding that the Department of Transportation ("DOT"), in
calculating highway lane miles under 23 U.S.C. § 104(b) as part
of its annual apportionment of highway funds to states, may
properly include mileage for roadways operated or maintained
by private third parties under long-term public-private partnership
agreements with a state (so-called 'P3 agreements')

Sunday, August 09, 2009

NC State Accounting Professor Appointed to FASAB Board

D. Scott Showalter, teaching professor in the Department of Accounting at North Carolina State University College of Management and retired partner at KPMG LLP, was appointed to a five-year term on the Federal Accounting Standards Advisory Board (FASAB). His term began July 1, 2009. The appointment was announced recently by Tom Allen, FASAB chairman.

Also appointed was Michael H. Granoff, Ernst & Young Distinguished Centennial Professor of Accounting and a University Distinguished Teaching Professor at the University of Texas at Austin.

An Appointments Panel advises the FASAB Sponsors on appointments and re-appointments for the six nonfederal members of the Board. The FASAB Sponsors – Timothy F. Geithner, the Secretary of the Treasury; Peter R. Orszag, the director of the Office of Management and Budget; and Gene L. Dodaro, the Acting Comptroller General of the United States - made the final appointments.

Regarding the appointments, Allen said, “I am pleased to welcome both Michael and Scott to the Board. Michael is uniquely qualified as an academic who authors both governmental and financial accounting textbooks. Scott is a recognized leader in the field, having been with KPMG for more than 30 years including service as the public sector industry leader for the firm. Michael’s service on the Association of Government Accountants’ Financial Management Standards Board and Scott’s position as the co-editor of “Government Accounting and Auditing Update” from 1996 – 2008 demonstrates that they have both followed the most recent work of the FASAB. I am confident that Michael and Scott will hit the ground running, enabling the Board to continue its work on critical federal financial reporting issues under consideration.”

About FASAB

Accounting and financial reporting standards are essential for public accountability and for an efficient and effective functioning of our democratic system of government. Thus, federal accounting standards and financial reporting play a major role in fulfilling the government's duty to be publicly accountable and can be used to assess the government’s accountability and its efficiency and effectiveness, and the economic, political, and social consequences of the allocation and various uses of federal resources. The FASAB issues federal accounting standards after following a due process consistent with the Memorandum of Understanding under which it operates. Due process includes consideration of the financial and budgetary information needs of citizens, congressional oversight groups, executive agencies, and the needs of other users of federal financial information.

Thursday, August 06, 2009

More problems reported with Defense Contract Audit Agency

For the second time in as many years, investigators at the Government Accountability Office have found widespread deficiencies in audits conducted by the Defense Contract Audit Agency, according to internal memos obtained by Government Executive.

GAO issued a draft copy of its report on DCAA's internal control reviews to Defense Secretary Robert Gates on Monday, the memos state. The watchdog reportedly found major problems with the agency's adherence to government auditing standards. The findings are reminiscent of a July 2008 GAO report, which sparked a contentious congressional hearing and a massive overhaul of agency performance standards.

In the most recent GAO review, investigators examined 37 audit reports issued between 2004 and 2006. These reports were chosen for further examination because DCAA leadership had previously "opined the system under review was adequate," the memos said.

"GAO found [Generally Accepted Government Auditing Standards] issues with all audit reports reviewed," the memos said. "The extent of the GAGAS deficiencies varied by assignment. GAO believes there were some cultural issues within DCAA that will take several years to change, that contributed to the deficiencies noted. As you know, DCAA has implemented a number of changes that are helping to address the cultural issues."

Government Executive was unable to obtain a copy of the draft GAO report. According to the memos, DCAA field office personnel have not seen the report either. A GAO spokesman declined to comment, noting that the draft report has not been finalized.

-Robert Brodsky, GovExec.com
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Feds Release Final Data Definitions for Stimulus Reporting

The Obama administration this week released final definitions for stimulus spending information that state and local governments must report to the U.S. Office of Management and Budget (OMB) to comply with the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA).

A 22-page document posted to recovery.gov provides detailed descriptions for nearly 100 data elements that recipients of ARRA funds will report to the OMB by Oct. 10, the first quarterly deadline for submitting stimulus spending information to the federal government. Among other things, the document -- Recipient Reporting Data Model v3.0 -- spells out how to report the status of ARRA-funded projects, the number of jobs created by these activities and payments made to vendors.

A post on the administration's Recovery.gov Web site describes the document as a "preview" of the final data definitions, and adds that actual templates for submitting ARRA data will be available soon. Recipients of ARRA funds will submit the data electronically through a new Web site called FederalReporting.gov.

-Steve Towns, GovTech.com
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