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Thursday, December 30, 2010

New Comptroller General Formally Sworn into Office

WASHINGTON, D.C. (December 30, 2010) - Gene L. Dodaro was sworn in today as the eighth Comptroller General of the United States and head of the Government Accountability Office (GAO), an independent, legislative-branch agency that helps oversee federal programs.

"It is a great honor and a privilege to lead GAO. I thank the Congress and the President for their bipartisan support," Dodaro said. "As Comptroller General, I plan to build on GAO's proud tradition as a steadfast, non-partisan, professional watchdog for the American people; a trusted advisor to Congress; and a leading advocate for more efficient and effective management across government.

"Looking ahead, the decisions facing policymakers will, in many cases, be difficult ones crucial to our nation's security and prosperity. As in the past, GAO will be there to provide Congress with high-quality, objective, and timely information," Dodaro said.

Dodaro was chosen by President Obama from a list of candidates proposed by a 10 member bipartisan, bicameral congressional commission; the Senate confirmed his nomination on December 22, 2010. The Comptroller General is appointed to a 15-year term. A career civil servant, Dodaro previously held a number of key executive posts at GAO: http://www.gao.gov/cghome/gdbiog.html

Dodaro took the oath of office today at GAO's headquarters in Washington, D.C. and was sworn in by Patrina Clark, Chief Human Capital Officer for GAO. Dodaro has served as Acting Comptroller General since 2008.

Established in 1921, GAO examines how taxpayer dollars are being spent and advises lawmakers and agency heads on ways to make government work better. Recent GAO work has addressed the use of Recovery Act and TARP funds, problems in mortgage financing, the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan, food safety, climate changes, postal reform, border security, and the financial pressures facing state and local governments.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Financial Blogging, Consulting, Charity And More

I was recently interviewed by Benzinga.com about my blog. Click the link below to learn more about me  and the origination of the Federal Financial Management News Weblog.


GAO: Weaknesses in federal financial management

Bob Dacey, Chief Accountant, Government Accountability Office

For the 14th straight year, the Government Accountability Office announced that it could not issue an opinion on the federal government's consolidated financial statements.

In its report, the GAO highlights three main obstacles:

1.Serious financial management problems at the Defense Department.
2.An inability to effectively report inter-agency expenses.
3.An overall ineffective process for preparing financial statements.

Bob Dacey, chief accountant at GAO, told the Federal Drive that 20 of the 24 agencies of the CFO Act had "clean opinions" on their financial statements. However, in addition to DoD, Labor, Department of Homeland Security and NASA did not have clean opinions, Dacey said.

Dacey said weaknesses in DoD's financial management have been "pervasive and longstanding." Improvements are focused on two areas: budget information and mission-critical assets, he said.

The defense authorization bill includes implementation of the Defense Financial Improvement and Audit Readiness or FIRE Plan, which mandates DoD financial statements be audi-ready by the end of fiscal year 2017.

One problem persistent since consolidated audits started in 1997 is the lack of a standardized process across agencies for identifying interagency transactions, Dacey said.
-Jolie Lee, FederalNewsRadio.com

IBM: 10 principles for federal financial systems projects

Debra Cammer Hines, vice president and partner, and Angela Carrington, partner, IBM Global Business Services

Few types of projects have confounded federal agencies as much as the development of financial systems. So many have been troubled, they drew the interest of the Office of Management and Budget. OMB has ordered time-outs on some of them, and even canceled a few.

The IBM Center for the Business of Government has a new report with some of the ways its experts think could help agencies do a better job. Debra Cammer Hines, vice president and partner in IBM's public sector consulting practice, Angela Carrington, partner with IBM Global Business Services, joined the Federal Drive with the ten principles to best deploy financial management systems following OMB policies.

Download the IBM Report


Sunday, December 26, 2010

Coburn: Control Government Spending or Face 'Apocalyptic Pain'

"Apocalyptic pain" from an out-of-control debt could cause 18 percent unemployment and a massive contraction in the economy that would destroy the middle class, a leading Republican deficit hawk said in an interview that aired Sunday.

Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., who recently issued a report on government waste, warned that the U.S. only has about three or four years to get its fiscal house in order or it could find itself facing austerity measures seen in Greece, Ireland, Spain, Portugal and earlier in Japan.

"The problem that faces our country today, the last 30 years we have lived off the future, and the bill is coming due," he added.

The senator, who was recently elected to a second -- and he pledges -- final term in Congress, said he's not trying to scare anyone, but eliminating waste in the federal government's ledgers is imperative not just to prevent default but a massive implosion that he defined in catastrophic terms.

Coburn said he can come up with $350 billion off the top of his head in inefficiency and waste that could be eliminated without impacting anyone in a practical sense. He noted $50 billion in programs that are duplicative and $100 billion in Medicare and Medicaid fraud that was not addressed in the health care law.

"We have 267 job training programs across 39 different agencies. Why do we have 267 of them? We have 105 programs to encourage people to go into science and technology, engineering and math. That's 105 sets of bureaucrats. None of them have metrics on it," he said.

"The Pentagon can't even audit its own books. It doesn't even know where its money is going. And we refuse to have the tough forces go on the Pentagon so that at least they are efficient with the money they're spending," Coburn added.

In one of his last acts in the lame-duck session that ended last week, Coburn, an obstetrician who earned the nickname "Dr. No" for his refusal to spend taxpayer dollars, was a critical factor in getting a health care program for Sept. 11 responders reduced in scope and cost. The $7.2 billion program was cut to $4.3 billion and was paid for through additional fees and reductions in other spending.


Wednesday, December 22, 2010

2010 Financial Report of the United States Government

Treasury releases the 2010 FRUSG along with its Citizen's Guide to the report.

The fiscal year (FY) 2010 Financial Report of the United States Government (Report) provides the President, Congress, and the American people with a comprehensive view of the Federal Government’s finances, i.e., its financial position and condition, its revenues and costs, assets and liabilities, and other obligations and commitments. The Report also discusses important financial issues and significant conditions that may affect future operations. This year's Report gives particular emphasis to two key issues: the Government’s ongoing efforts to strengthen the economy and create jobs, and the need to achieve fiscal sustainability over the medium and long term.

Download the report here...

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

U.S. Government's 2010 Financial Report Shows Significant Financial Management and Fiscal Challenges

WASHINGTON (December 21, 2010) - The U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) cannot render an opinion on the 2010 consolidated financial statements of the federal government, because of widespread material internal control weaknesses, significant uncertainties, and other limitations.

"Even though significant progress has been made since the enactment of key financial management reforms in the 1990s, our report on the U.S. government's consolidated financial statement illustrates that much work remains to be done to improve federal financial management. Shortcomings in three areas again prevented us from expressing an opinion on the accrual-based financial statements," said Gene Dodaro, Acting Comptroller General of the United States.

The main obstacles to a GAO opinion were: (1) serious financial management problems at the Department of Defense (DOD) that made its financial statements unauditable, (2) the federal government's inability to adequately account for and reconcile intragovernmental activity and balances between federal agencies, and (3) the federal government's ineffective process for preparing the consolidated financial statements.

In addition GAO was unable to render an opinion on the 2010 Statement of Social Insurance because of significant uncertainties, primarily related to the achievement of projected reductions in Medicare cost growth. The consolidated financial statements discuss these uncertainties, which relate to reductions in physician payment rates and to productivity improvements, and provide an illustrative alternative projection to illustrate the uncertainties.

Dodaro also cited material weaknesses involving an estimated $125.4 billion in improper payments, information security across government, and tax collection activities. He noted that three major agencies-DOD, the Department of Homeland Security, and the Department of Labor-did not get clean opinions. Nineteen of 24 major agencies did get clean opinions on all their statements.

"Given the federal government's fiscal challenges, it's imperative that Congress, the administration, and federal managers have reliable, useful, and timely financial and performance information. Improved accuracy and transparency in financial reporting are urgently needed," Dodaro said.

Dodaro commended the commitment and professionalism of the Inspectors General across government who are responsible for auditing the annual financial statements of individual federal entities each year.

The fiscal year 2010 Financial Report of the United States Government, which includes financial information from the 24 major federal departments and agencies along with GAO's audit report, is being released today by the Treasury Department. The report is also available on GAO's web site at: http://www.gao.gov/financial.html

Friday, December 17, 2010

Biggest ERP Failures of 2010

No year in the IT industry would be complete without a number of high-profile ERP (enterprise resource planning) project failures, ones that burn through mountains of cash, bring company operations to a standstill, generate bad publicity for vendors and toss careers in the trash.

There's no one reason why ERP projects run off the rails. In fact, you can equate a typical project to a three-legged stool, with the customer, vendor and systems integrator each serving as a leg.

Customers have to plan well, budget enough money for training and evolve their usual way of working. Vendors must deliver software that functions properly and matches up well with a customer's business processes. And implementation teams have to set the right expectations, meet project milestones and avoid waste.

If one or more of these "legs" doesn't hold up, things can get ugly.

-Chris Kanaracus, PCWorld.com

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

FAR update clarifies interagency contracting responsibilities

Anytime the Defense Department hires another federal agency to do procurements for it, those servicing agencies are now responsible in regulation for ensuring that the General Services Administration schedule orders they place on behalf of the DoD comply with Defense regulations.

The new regulation--part of an interim rule made effective Dec. 13 and so subject to change (although, if past experience is anything to go by, minor changes)--settles an argument among federal agencies about how far regulations from the original customer agency penetrate past the level of another federal agency hired to perform procurement services. The answer is all the way.

The rule, in fact, applies to the entire government, but the Defense Department is the federal agency with the most involved set of department-specific regulations and so generally the most likely to have a difference from federalwide regulations. The new rule specifically states that the contracting officer placing the order is responsible for applying the regulatory and statutory requirements of the agency for which the order is being placed. The same goes when establishing a GSA blanket purchase agreement. The new language is part of a revised Part 8.404(b)(1) of the Federal Acquisition Regulation

-David Perera, FierceGovernmentIT.com

Friday, December 10, 2010

January 11, 2010 - AGA Federal Financial System Summit

On January 11th, AGA will host a FREE one-day event in Washington, D.C. that brings together federal financial managers and the private sector executives to discuss the practical implications of the

OMB issued Memorandum M-10-26 . We will hear from several large and small agencies on their approaches to the new requirements and their lessons learned. We will also hear perspectives on where things are moving with technology modernization from both government and private sector.

Featured speaker: Danny Werfel, Controller, U.S. Office of Management and Budget.

CPEs: 7


Thursday, December 09, 2010

DOI's National Business Center (NBC) Posts Financial Management Whitepapers Online

Located within the Department of the Interior, for more than 30 years the National Business Center (NBC) supports the Offices and Bureaus within the Department, as well as federal agencies outside the Department, as a Shared Service Center.   NBC provides a diverse, yet integrated set of administrative solutions, and are currently the only federal agency designated by both OMB and OPM as a Center of Excellence in the financial management and human resources lines of business.

NBC recently updated its Financial Management Resource Library, which includes a series of White Papers.

Visit the NBC Resource Library for Financial Management Here

Friday, December 03, 2010

DHS Transformation Delayed, Again, by Protests

On November 30, 2010 protests were filed with GAO against the award of the DHS TASC contract. 

One protest was filed by the unsuccessful bidder, GCE.  The other was filed by years-long TASC antagonist, Savantage Financial Services - whose legacy software running in multiple DHS component agencies will eventually be replaced by the TASC solution. 

DHS is now forced to wait until March to proceed with much needed transformation and consolidation efforts to improve the effectiveness and efficiency of its homeland security operations.

Below are the protest docket numbers:

Global Computer Enterprises, Inc. (HSHQDC-09-R-00001)

Department of Homeland Security
Outcome: Not Decided
Status: Case Currently Open
Filed Date: November 30, 2010
Due: March 10, 2011
Case Type: Bid Protest
GAO Attorney: Jonathan L. Kang
File Number: 404597.1

Savantage Financial Services, Inc. (HSHQDC-09-R-00001)
Department of Homeland Security
Outcome: Not Decided
Status: Case Currently Open
Filed Date: November 30, 2010
Due: March 10, 2011
Case Type: Bid Protest
GAO Attorney: Jonathan L. Kang
File Number: 404597.2

Thursday, December 02, 2010

Obama administration begins publishing names of federal subcontractors on Web

The U.S. government is giving the public new details about how it is spending taxpayer money on government business.

Starting Wednesday, the Obama administration began publicizing the names of subcontractors - the companies that get the majority of federal contracts - along with the dollar amounts they receive.

For years, the government reported only the companies that won major, or prime, government contracts - even if those companies then hired subcontractors to do most of the job. Now taxpayers can follow more accurately where their dollars are going, tracing public money to the specific companies and communities that share in multimillion- and billion-dollar federal work.

The previous dearth of information about government subcontracts led to incomplete and sometimes misleading conclusions about Uncle Sam's impact on communities.

The new subcontractor details are available on the Office of Management and Budget's Web site, USASpending.gov. Recipients of all federal contracts and grants larger than $25,000 will be required to report the names of companies they hire.

The subcontractors' names are being made public as required by the Federal Funding Accountability and Transparency Act, which became law in 2006 under President George W. Bush. The informations' release is two years behind schedule. A smaller portion of subcontractor information - for contracts larger than $20 million - was made public in October.

-Carrol Leonning, WashingtonPost.com

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Labor Dept. loses clean audit opinion thanks to IT system

The Labor Department's new $27.6 million (and counting) core financial system prevented the department from producing an auditable financial statement for fiscal 2010. This marks the first time in 13 years that the department has failed to earn a "clean" audit opinion for its financials.

Since January, when Labor turned on the New Core Financial Management System, the department has experienced "significant transaction and reporting errors" in its financial reporting processing primarily caused by NCFMS data migration problems, subsystem interfaces not operating as intended and some processes not functioning well, such as the account for property, plant and equipment, department officials acknowledge in their fiscal 2010 financial report.

KPMG, the department's outside auditors, warned (.pdf) Labor in late 2009 about issues related to the system, but many identified risks were not rectified prior the system's initiation. Labor awarded Reston, Va.-based Global Computer Enterprises a contract in 2008 worth up to $50 million to provide the system, support its implementation and migrate data from the old system.

Among the errors identified by auditors in an initial draft of year-end financial statements is a $4.1 billion discrepancy of liability in $12.1 billion compensation fund for nuclear weapons workers. In order to compensate for NCFMS problems the office of chief financial officer has to hire additional contractors. Bonhert said the additional contractors will cost $10 million and GCE's contract has been raised to $60 million as a result.

-David Perera, FierceGovernmentIT.com

FSIS Posts Financial Management Positions

Branch Chief in the Systems Branch, Beltsville, MD

Public announcement number W-OM-FMD-2011-2004; current/former government employees announcement W-OM-FMD-2011-0006.

A brief summary of the position is below and the full announcement can be accessed on USAJOBS at the attached link (copy and paste the link or locate the job with the vacancy number at http://www.usajobs.gov/).

The Financial Accounting and Systems Branch of the Financial Management Division provides the overall oversight and security access of the Agency within the parameters of the Department's Financial Management Modernization Initiative (FMMI) and related administrative feeder subsystems. The Branch maintains master data, monitors and reports system availability, provides assistance with understanding and retrieving information and monitors and controls system access. They work across FSIS, the Department and the National Finance Center.

For more information please visit the following link:

Branch Chief in the Financial Review and Analysis Branch in Beltsville, MD

Public announcement number W-OM-FMD-2011-2007; current/former government employees announcement W-OM-FMD-2011-0008.

A brief summary of the position is below and the full announcement can be accessed at http://www.usajobs.gov/.

The Financial Review and Analysis Branch negotiates indirect cost rates with recipients (i.e., State Agencies); conducts on-site financial and compliance reviews of recipients' policies, procedures reporting and grant expenditures; performs grant close-out reviews; researches/establishes cost policy for FSIS-USDA programs; and serves as the main liaison between recipients and FSIS-USDA concerning cost issues.

For more information please visit the following link: