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Tuesday, October 27, 2009

OMB wants better, faster, cheaper financial data

WILLIAMSBURG, Va. - The Obama administration has said little publicly about the assorted back office Lines of Business initiatives started under the Bush administration. Agencies and industry alike were left wondering what the plan was going forward, especially if consolidations with federal shared service providers still would be required.

At least for the financial management line of business, the Office of Management and Budget is offering some clarity.

Adam Goldberg, OMB's chief of the financial analysis and systems branch, says the LOB still is underway as it has been since 2003.

But OMB also has seen some additional potential improvements thanks to the Recovery Act.

"We have started to look at other opportunities where we could deliver financial management reforms probably a little earlier than we would be able to move all the agencies onto a consolidated financial system," says Goldberg at the 19th annual Executive Leadership Conference sponsored by IAC/ACT. "The direction we are going now is to continue with standardization and consolidation efforts and start to look at other solutions to deliver benefits to meet emerging needs like data and transparency reporting."

OMB believes the Recovery Act has shown that obtaining better and more accurate data more quickly is just the beginning.

"We want to look at other technology solutions to reduce the cost of transactions," he says. "We have to find ways to automate data from the time we get money from Congress until the time we spend it."

Goldberg adds that the Recovery Act has expanded who needs access to financial data.

"One of the things we are trying to do is understand how can we accelerate the capture and reporting of information and with Recovery Act and it's not just federal agencies that need to have access to the information to met reporting requirements, but we need to provide it out to state and localities and companies who are receiving monies under the Recovery Act to make sure they are able to fulfill the reporting requirements and make sure the numbers and reporting elements are in alignment with one another," he says.

Goldberg adds that OMB earlier in October issued the final set of standards so now agencies and industry have a complete set of financial management business process standards.

Along with these standards, agencies also received a common governmentwide accounting classification structure in 2008 to complete the updating of the federal financial management standards.

Goldberg says OMB now is leading an effort to make sure the common account classification structure and the business process standards align.

Goldberg adds that over the next six months OMB will finalize all the financial management information to ensure everything is aligned.

Vendor financial management system software providers eventually will have to meet the new standards.

As for the FM LOB, Goldberg says between 12 and 14 agencies have migrated to a shared service provider, including the Office of Personnel Management most recently.

-Jason Miller, WFED
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Thursday, October 15, 2009

Obama nominates Scott Quehl for Department of Commerce CFO

THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
October 15, 2009

President Obama Announces More Key Administration Posts

WASHINGTON - Today, President Barack Obama announced his intent to nominate the following individuals to key administration posts:

* Scott Quehl, Chief Financial Officer and Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Administration, Department of Commerce

Scott Quehl, Nominee for Chief Financial Officer and Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Administration, Department of Commerce

Scott Quehl is President of Quehl Advisors, LLC, and a Senior Managing Director at Public Resources Advisory Group, providing advice to state and local governments on capital market, budgeting, and management initiatives. Quehl served as Managing Director for Tax-Exempt Capital Markets at JPMorgan Securities, Inc. While a Managing Director at Public Financial Management, Inc., he served as a management and budget advisor to several local and state authorities. During his tenure at Public Financial Management, Quehl took a leave of absence to serve as acting, then permanent, Chief Financial Officer of the Metropolitan Police Department for the District of Columbia. In the Executive Office of the President of the United States, he served as a member of the Clinton Administration in the Office of Management & Budget, Office of Federal Financial Management. Before this, he served as The World Bank's Country Officer for the Dominican Republic in a consulting capacity, co-managed the development of Secondary Education Project for the Dominican Republic, and advised the Governments of Colombia and Bolivia on the decentralization of financial and management authority to sub-national governments. He also served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Sabanagrande, Honduras. He has written articles and reports for The World Bank Group, Brookings Review, and Government Finance Review. Quehl holds a Master's in Government Administration from the University of Pennsylvania, Bachelor's in History and Political Science from Lawrence University, and held FINRA NASD Series 24, 63, and 7 licenses while at JPMorgan.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Better than the Heisman

Tuesday, October 13th, 2009 at 8:07 pm
Peter R. Orszag, Director OMB

Tonight, the Senate confirmed Danny Werfel as Controller, Office of Federal Financial Management (OFFM). This is great news for OMB, as Danny brings broad experience and financial acumen to the table. His skills will be tested, as there are serious challenges facing the federal government to improve transparency and drive better results for the American people.

I’ve written before about Danny’s essential role in implementing the President’s ambitious agenda through the transition as Acting Controller, and particularly his work in implementing — with unprecedented accountability and openness — the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

I look forward to his leadership in furthering President’s agenda and in our work going forward; he is, as he has been, vital to what we do.

I thank his wife, Beth, and their children, Sean and Molly, for sharing Danny with us. I join everyone at OMB in congratulating Danny and his family on his confirmation.

P.S. A point of clarification: OMB’s Danny Werfel is not to be confused with Danny Wuerffel, who won the 1996 Heisman trophy as quarterback at the University of Florida, last seen in Washington as a member of the ‘Skins in 2002.

PUBLISHERS NOTE: Congratulations, Danny - Well Deserved!!!
Are you sure you don't want to play QB on the weekends, as well?

OMB Memo: Fiscal Year 2009 Audited Financial Statement Reporting Deadline

M-10-04

The Federal financial management community plays a central role in providing transparency into the Government’s finances and initiating sound processes and controls that limit spending improprieties and other forms of error and waste. With the enactment of both the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008 (EESA) and the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA), this role has never been more critical. The success of these programs hinge, in large measure, on the ability to accurately account for economic recovery funds, report timely and reliable information on these funds to the public, and closely scrutinize transactions so that Federal funds are spent appropriately.

In addition to these efforts, Federal financial professionals, including auditors, currently are engaged in year-end activities to finalize and publish the annual financial statements of the Government. Audited financial statements are important for communicating the financial position and fiscal health of Federal agencies. The process of preparing the financial statements and having them audited requires significant planning, technical expertise, and hard work. While the statutory deadline for agency year-end financial statements is five months after the end of the fiscal year, Federal agencies and auditors, to their credit, have completed this process within 45 days after the end of the fiscal year for each of the last four years.

It is my expectation that Federal agencies will continue to meet this accelerated timetable, and I hereby request that Federal agencies treat 45 days after the end of the fiscal year as a deadline for submitting year-end financial statements. However, I also want to urge Federal agencies to evaluate whether resources are appropriately aligned to support diligence and thoroughness in the completion of year-end audited financial statements as well as the ongoing critical financial management and audit activities related to effective implementation of economic recovery programs. In making this determination, Federal agencies should collaborate closely with their Office of Inspector General. If you believe there is a risk that your agency cannot align these resources effectively within the time constraints of this accelerated deadline, I am requesting that you consult with the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) on whether an extension of the reporting deadline for audited financial statements will help to remediate this risk.

Thursday, October 08, 2009

Recent GAO Publications

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

Understanding the Primary Components of the Annual Financial Report of the United States Government.
GAO-09-946SP, September 2009.
http://www.gao.gov/cgi-bin/getrpt?GAO-09-946SP

Continuing Resolutions: Uncertainty Limited Management Options and Increased Workload in Selected Agencies.
GAO-09-879, September 24.
http://www.gao.gov/cgi-bin/getrpt?GAO-09-879
Highlights - http://www.gao.gov/highlights/d09879high.pdf

Troubled Asset Relief Program: One Year Later, Actions Are Needed to Address Remaining Transparency and Accountability Challenges.
GAO-10-16, October 8.
http://www.gao.gov/cgi-bin/getrpt?GAO-10-16
Highlights - http://www.gao.gov/highlights/d1016high.pdf

Troubled Asset Relief Program: Capital Purchase Program Transactions for October 28, 2008, through September 25, 2009, and Information on Financial Agency Agreements, Contracts, Blanket Purchase Agreements, and Interagency Agreements Awarded as of September 18, 2009 (GAO-10-24SP, October 2009), an e-supplement to GAO-10-16.
GAO-10-24SP, October 8.
http://www.gao.gov/cgi-bin/getrpt?GAO-10-24SP

Federal Student Loans: Audits and Reviews of the Federal Family Education Loan and Federal Direct Loan Programs.
GAO-09-992R, September 30.
http://www.gao.gov/cgi-bin/getrpt?GAO-09-992R

Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac: Analysis of Options for Revising the Housing Enterprises' Long-term Structures, by William B. Shear, director, financial markets and community investment, before the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs.
GAO-10-144T, October 8.
http://www.gao.gov/cgi-bin/getrpt?GAO-10-144T

Debt Management: Treasury Inflation Protected Securities Should Play a Heightened Role in Addressing Debt Management Challenges.
GAO-09-932, September 29.
http://www.gao.gov/cgi-bin/getrpt?GAO-09-932
Highlights - http://www.gao.gov/highlights/d09932high.pdf

Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau: Fiscal Year 2010 Proposed Licensing and Registration Fees Program.
GAO-09-1023R, September 28.
http://www.gao.gov/cgi-bin/getrpt?GAO-09-1023R

Federal Contracting: Observations on the Government's Contracting Data Systems, by William T. Woods, director, acquisition and sourcing management, before the Ad Hoc Subcommittee on Contracting Oversight, Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs.
GAO-09-1032T, September 29.
http://www.gao.gov/cgi-bin/getrpt?GAO-09-1032T
Highlights - http://www.gao.gov/highlights/d091032thigh.pdf

Vocational Rehabilitation Funding Formula: Options for Improving Equity in State Grants and Considerations for Performance Incentives.
GAO-09-798, September 30.
http://www.gao.gov/cgi-bin/getrpt?GAO-09-798
Highlights - http://www.gao.gov/highlights/d09798high.pdf

Financial Regulation: Recent Crisis Reaffirms the Need to Overhaul the U.S. Regulatory System, by Richard J. Hillman, managing director, financial markets and community investment, before the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs.
GAO-09-1049T, September 29.
http://www.gao.gov/cgi-bin/getrpt?GAO-09-1049T

Appropriations Decisions:

B-318588, Department of the Army, Military Surface Deployment and
Distribution Command--Use of Appropriations for Bottled Water,
September 29, 2009
http://www.gao.gov/decisions/appro/318588.htm

Recent GAO Publications

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



Understanding the Primary Components of the Annual Financial Report of the United States Government.

GAO-09-946SP, September 2009.
http://www.gao.gov/cgi-bin/getrpt?GAO-09-946SP



Troubled Asset Relief Program: One Year Later, Actions Are Needed to Address Remaining Transparency and Accountability Challenges.

GAO-10-16, October 8.
http://www.gao.gov/cgi-bin/getrpt?GAO-10-16
Highlights - http://www.gao.gov/highlights/d1016high.pdf


Troubled Asset Relief Program: Capital Purchase Program Transactions for October 28, 2008, through September 25, 2009, and Information on Financial Agency Agreements, Contracts, Blanket Purchase Agreements, and Interagency Agreements Awarded as of September 18, 2009 (GAO-10-24SP, October 2009), an e-supplement to GAO-10-16.

GAO-10-24SP, October 8.
http://www.gao.gov/cgi-bin/getrpt?GAO-10-24SP


Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac: Analysis of Options for Revising the Housing Enterprises' Long-term Structures, by William B. Shear, director, financial markets and community investment, before the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs.

GAO-10-144T, October 8.
http://www.gao.gov/cgi-bin/getrpt?GAO-10-144T



Continuing Resolutions: Uncertainty Limited Management Options and Increased Workload in Selected Agencies.

GAO-09-879, September 24.
http://www.gao.gov/cgi-bin/getrpt?GAO-09-879
Highlights - http://www.gao.gov/highlights/d09879high.pdf



Federal Student Loans: Audits and Reviews of the Federal Family Education Loan and Federal Direct Loan Programs.

GAO-09-992R, September 30.
http://www.gao.gov/cgi-bin/getrpt?GAO-09-992R


Debt Management: Treasury Inflation Protected Securities Should Play a Heightened Role in Addressing Debt Management Challenges.

GAO-09-932, September 29.
http://www.gao.gov/cgi-bin/getrpt?GAO-09-932
Highlights - http://www.gao.gov/highlights/d09932high.pdf



Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau: Fiscal Year 2010 Proposed Licensing and Registration Fees Program.

GAO-09-1023R, September 28.
http://www.gao.gov/cgi-bin/getrpt?GAO-09-1023R



Federal Contracting: Observations on the Government's Contracting Data Systems, by William T. Woods, director, acquisition and sourcing management, before the Ad Hoc Subcommittee on Contracting Oversight, Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs.

GAO-09-1032T, September 29.
http://www.gao.gov/cgi-bin/getrpt?GAO-09-1032T
Highlights - http://www.gao.gov/highlights/d091032thigh.pdf



Vocational Rehabilitation Funding Formula: Options for Improving Equity in State Grants and Considerations for Performance Incentives.

GAO-09-798, September 30.
http://www.gao.gov/cgi-bin/getrpt?GAO-09-798
Highlights - http://www.gao.gov/highlights/d09798high.pdf



Financial Regulation: Recent Crisis Reaffirms the Need to Overhaul the U.S. Regulatory System, by Richard J. Hillman, managing director, financial markets and community investment, before the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs.

GAO-09-1049T, September 29.
http://www.gao.gov/cgi-bin/getrpt?GAO-09-1049T



Appropriations Decisions:

B-318588, Department of the Army, Military Surface Deployment and
Distribution Command--Use of Appropriations for Bottled Water,
September 29, 2009
http://www.gao.gov/decisions/appro/318588.htm

Cost of 2010 census remains elusive, officials tell panel

Overseers of the 2010 census said on Wednesday that it is almost impossible to determine the total cost of the decennial count.

"At this point, it's just unknown" if the cost of the census will ultimately surpass the current estimate of $14.7 billion, Commerce Department Inspector General Todd Zinser told the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Federal Financial Management Subcommittee, which oversees the count.

A GAO report released at the subcommittee's hearing showed that the first major operation conducted by census workers -- the "address canvassing" campaign to confirm millions of addresses nationwide -- went $88 million over budget, or 25 percent of costs.

Once expected to cost $11.5 billion, estimates of the funds required to conduct the count jumped last year after a failed effort to equip census workers with handheld computers.

Census Director Robert Groves, who took the reins of the bureau in July, acknowledged last month that the agency is revising its methods of cost modeling.

-Carrie Dann, GovExec.com
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Monday, October 05, 2009

GAO Issues Guide to Understanding U.S. Financial Report

The Government Accountability Office (GAO) has issued "Understanding the Primary Components of the Annual Financial Report of the United States Government." GAO says to goal of the guide is "to make available to every American a comprehensive overview of the federal government's finances."

Federal Stimulus-Monitoring Website Gets An Update

Since February, when the government launched a website to provide a window on the federal stimulus package, critics have been calling for a makeover. Now they have one. The site, unveiled today by the Recovery Accountability and Transparency Board, was revamped through the use of $9.5 million in stimulus funds. It provides easier-to-use tools, such as a ZIP Code search that shows stimulus projects in specific communities. The government also has set up a toll-free hot line (1-877-FWA-DESK) for reporting fraud, waste and abuse. "This is definitely a step in the right direction," said Craig Jennings, a policy analyst at OMB Watch, a nonprofit government watchdog group. Still, the Obama administration has a ways to go to complete transparency, Jennings said. The site, Recovery.gov, does not include complete data on recipients of stimulus money, and users face significant hurdles to accessing the information that is available. --Joe Markman, The Los Angeles Times
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