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Saturday, December 31, 2011

Federal financial report is in, but GAO offers no opinion

The federal government's consolidated financial report for 2011 is out and the picture isn't pretty. The Government Accountability Office found once again that it can't render an opinion on that statement. That's despite the fact that several departments received their own clean financial statements.

In Fiscal Year 2011, 20 of the 24 individual CFO Act agencies received unqualified opinion on all of their financial statements, Dacey said. One agency received an unqualified opinion on all of its statements with the exception of its statements on social insurance and changes of social insurance. Another agency received a qualified opinion.

The three main obstacles to GAO giving an opinion on the accrual based financial statements:

1.Serious financial problems at the Department of Defense have prevented its statements from being auditable.

2.The federal government has been unable to adequately account for and reconcile intergovernmental activity and balances between agencies.

3.The federal government has an ineffective process for preparing consolidated financial statements.

-Michael O'Connell, FederalNewsRadio.com

Thursday, December 08, 2011

New online toolkit aims to help agencies combat fraud

When it comes to fraud, some seem to think federal agencies wear big target signs.

The AGA has created a new fraud prevention online tool kit, designed to help agencies better detect and prevent fraud.

The toolkit allows agencies to search for red flags by different program areas and different types of fraud as well as what they can do to combat them.


Tuesday, December 06, 2011

DISA passes government audit test ahead of most of DOD

After five years of preparation, the Defense Information Systems Agency has received its first “clean audit” decision under a federal law that mandates financial transparency.

DISA earned the audit green-light through an audit of its fiscal 2011 Defense Working Capital Fund financial statement. It represents DISA’s accuracy in its accounting and financial management for its working capital fund, which includes money coming from its customers. A separate general fund contains money appropriated from Congress, and efforts to get that fund audit-ready are ongoing.

-Amber Corrin, FCW.com

Thursday, December 01, 2011

Education wants to put financial management in the cloud

The Education Department wants to take its financial management system to the cloud.

Education issued a request for information Nov. 18 seeking ideas for infrastructure-as-a-service and platform-as-a-service for the Education Department's Central Automated Processing System (EDCAPS).

Education's system includes five different components:
•Financial-management support software
•Grants-management system
•Contracts and purchasing support system
•Travel-management system
•Nortridge Loan system

-Jason Miller, FederalNewsRadio.com

Recovery Board's Devaney to resign

Earl Devaney, chairman of the Recovery Accountability and Transparency Board, tasked with tracking Recovery Act spending, announced his resignation Thursday.

Devaney's resignation, which is effective Dec. 31, comes after more than four decades of federal service.

Along with resigning his position as chairman of the RATB, he also said he would be stepping down as the chairman of the Government Accountability and Transparency Board.

That office was launched in August with the broader goal of overseeing all facets of federal spending to cut government waste and increase transparency.

-Jolie Lee, FederalNewsRadio.com

DoD's Wennergren works to drive business process changes

As the Pentagon official charged with reengineering the business operations of the Defense Department, the deputy chief management officer is driving the pursuit of some new business goals for DoD. And those goals are accompanied by a new level of accountability for meeting the seven objectives over the next couple years.

The Pentagon's Strategic Management Plan is an annual document designed to align DoD's business practices with the overarching goals laid out in the Quadrennial Defense Review, the Pentagon's regular study on military strategy. The current version, however covers both fiscal years 2012 and 2013. Some of the areas are updates to goals in previous years' plans, but there are also some new priorities on this year's list, said Dave Wennergren, DoD's assistant deputy chief management officer.

Also new on the list is the goal of rebuilding and using end-to-end business processes, a topic the office of the Deputy Chief Management Officer has been championing.

-Jared Serbu, FederalNewsRadio.com

Monday, November 28, 2011

Are agency CFOs up for budget battles?

The federal budget environment — complicated by Congress and the shifting political winds — has only made the job of federal chief financial officer and budget teams that much more difficult.

But the good news is, they say they're looking forward to the challenge, said Jonathan Stehle, president of the American Association for Budget and Program Analysis, in an interview on In Depth with Francis Rose.

That was also the theme that emerged from a recent AABPA report, "The Road Forward, The Federal Budget and Budgeting Profession."

-Jack Moore, FederalNewsRadio.com

Thursday, November 24, 2011

DoD's IG to resign

Defense Department Inspector General Gordon Heddell is stepping down next month.

In an email to staff on Tuesday, Heddell said, "It is with very mixed emotions that I announce to you today that I have advised President Obama and Secretary Panetta that I intend to step down as Inspector General of the Department of Defense on December 24, 2011."

Heddell was sworn in as IG in 2009. Previously, he had served as the IG at the Labor Department, served 28 years with the Secret Service and was an Army aviator.
-Jolie Lee, FederalNewsRadio.com

Monday, November 21, 2011

OMB highlights report card of clean audits

For the first time in two decades, independent auditors said financial books were in order at 23 of 24 applicable federal agencies, the Office of Management and Budget announced Friday.

The Pentagon is now the only department whose finances continued to warrant a disclaimer, while the State and Homeland Security departments have progressed to "qualified" ratings. All others, according to OMB's list, now are "clean."

Since passage of the 1990 Chief Financial Officers Act, major agencies have been required to produce audited financial statements. The Pentagon, in particular, has struggled to make progress toward a congressional deadline of auditability by 2017.

-Charles S. Clark, GovExec.com

A list of Agency Financial Statement Web Links is provided below.

Department of Agriculture
Department of Defense
Department of Education
Department of Energy
Department of Health and Human Services
Department of Homeland Security
Department of Housing and Urban Development
Department of the Interior
Department of Justice
Department of Labor
Department of State
Department of Transportation
Department of the Treasury
Department of Veterans Affairs
Environmental Protection Agency
National Aeronautics and Space Administration
Agency for International Development
General Services Administration 
National Science Foundation 
Nuclear Regulatory Commission
Office of Personnel Management
Small Business Administration
Social Security Administration

KPMG Publishes 2011 Federal Word Book

Published in 2008, the first edition of The KPMG Word Book: A Directory of Financial Management and IT Acronyms, Regulations, and Terms provided a much-needed resource for individuals navigating the often bewildering maze of acronyms, regulations, and commonly used terms in federal financial and IT management. The response was immediate and enthusiastic among members of government , professional associations, students, academia, the media, and others.

The 2011 KPMG Federal Word Book: A Directory of Federal Financial Management and IT Acronyms, Laws and Regulations, Terms, and Agencies and URLs, published by the KPMG Government Institute, provides an expanded and updated version of the original classic, with some 700 terms, including 140 new entries. It has also been expanded to include a new section, Agencies and URLs – a listing of over 350 executive, judicial, legislative, and independent agencies – in addition to the original three: Acronyms, Regulations, and Terms.

Download the Word Book Here...

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Contract and grant transparency is 'wave of the future'

The Recovery, Accountability and Transparency Board broke new ground in how to track grant and contract money so the public could see what's going on. Now that work is starting to spread throughout the government.

"With the Affordable Care Act and the Recovery Act, we've become quite busy over the last couple of years," said Nancy Gunderson, deputy assistant secretary for grants, acquisition policy and accountability at Health and Human Services.

-Michael O'Connell, FederalNewsRadio.com

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

The Road Forward: The Federal Budget and Budgeting Profession

In 2011, Grant Thornton joined forces with the American Association for Budget and Program Analysis (AABPA) for a first-time, online survey of 231 federal budget professionals. Survey topics included budget formulation and execution, budget and performance integration, budget cutting, Congress, budget technology, and human capital. The survey finds budgeteers primed for the coming budget battles.

Other findings include:
  • Preparing and justifying budgets remains their most important job.
  • Integrating budget and performance data is critical for program success but underlying difficulties make this problematic.
  • Budgeteers know how to cut their budgets, but agency bureaucracies seem to have trouble executing the cuts.
  • They need better budget technology to support large amounts of data.
  • Analytics, crisp writing, and working cooperatively under pressure are key attributes needed by new budgeteers.
  • In spite of problems and frustrations, job satisfaction is very good.

Download the report Here..

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Agencies cut improper payments by $18 billion

Agencies saved nearly $18 billion in fiscal 2011 by reducing improper payments, the White House announced Tuesday. The administration also unveiled new steps to prevent the government from paying money to the wrong people.

Agencies saved $17.6 billion last year, by reducing payment errors in Medicare, Medicaid, Pell Grants and a food assistance program.

President Barack Obama initiated the crackdown on improper payments two years ago, when he gave agencies the goal of reducing payment errors by $50 billion before 2013. The effort has since become part of the administration's Campaign to Cut Waste, which seeks to apply lessons learned by the Recovery Accountability and Transparency Board to all federal spending.

As part of the crackdown, agencies reduced the 2011 governmentwide payment error rate to 4.7 percent, the administration said. In 2010, it was 5.3 percent.

The Medicare and Medicaid programs shouldered the bulk of savings, avoiding $16 billion in payment errors, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius told reporters.

USDA also prevented $800 million in improper payments under its Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, formerly the food stamps program, according to the administration.

In announcing the reduction of payment errors, the White House also revealed new steps to improve agency suspension and debarment programs.

-Ruben Gomez, FederalNewsRadio.com

Friday, November 04, 2011

DoD budget planning systems plagued by inefficiencies

The Defense Department's quest to be auditable in 2017 relies on using Enterprise Resource Planning systems, or ERPs, to perform tasks like accounting and supply chain management.

But according to a GAO report released last week, "To date, however, DOD's ERP implementation has been impaired by delays, cost increases, failures in delivering the necessary functionality, and a lack of compliance with required standards."

Asif Khan, director of Financial Management and Assurance Issues at the Government Accountability Office, has been looking at the ERPs at the Pentagon.
The GAO found six of the 10 ERPs that DoD identified as critical had "time slippages" of between two to 12 years, Khan said. And none of the programs had a master schedule.

A big hang-up for DoD is its collection of 2,000 legacy systems. These 10 ERPs are expected to replace more than 500 legacy systems.

-Jolie Lee, FederalNewsRadio.com

Thursday, October 27, 2011

GFEBS financial management system worldwide

Washington, D.C. — The most advanced financial management system in Army history, the General Fund Enterprise Business System, or GFEBS, is now operational worldwide.

The GFEBS now has nearly 40,000 users across all service components, and is the most widely implemented of the Army’s Enterprise Resource Planning systems. It’s expected when fully deployed, sometime in Fiscal Year 2012, GFEBS will engage close to 60,000 users at some 200 locations worldwide and will affect almost every Army organization and function.

The GFEBS records financial transactions with supporting documentation, tracks transactions to the detailed level, and will produce an auditable trial balance. The Army Audit Agency’s most recent evaluation found that GFEBS complies with 1,054 of 1,113 requirements from the Federal Financial Management Improvement Act. On-going development of GFEBS will complete the remaining 5 percent for full compliance in FY 2012.

GFEBS received a full deployment decision June 24 from Department of Defense Deputy Chief Management Officer Elizabeth McGrath, the program’s milestone decision authority. The decision affirmed the deployment readiness of the GFEBS solution and authorized Armywide system implementation.

The GFEBS deployment is scheduled to conclude in 2012, providing a core system for managing a significant portion of the Army’s general fund and ushering in a new era in Army financial management.

-Frank Distasio, Army News Service

Recovery Board testing accountability tools in the cloud

WILLIAMSBURG, Va.-- The Recovery Accountability and Transparency Board had so much success moving Recovery.gov to the cloud, it is looking there again to give agencies a new set of accountability tools.

Shawn Kingsberry, the board's chief information officer and assistant director for technology, said about four agencies are testing a new suite of data-analysis software to ensure Recovery Act funds are not being subject to waste, fraud or abuse.

The Recovery Board is working with several agencies to test out these accountability tools in the cloud. The tools include data-analysis software that can detect data anomalies on contracts, grants and loans issued with stimulus funding.

-Jason Miller, FederalNewsRadio.com

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Senate committee passes bills on improper payments, whistleblower protections

The Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee passed three bills today to combat wasteful spending in government, strengthen federal whistleblower protections and improve interagency communications with a rotational program.

The Improper Payments Elimination and Recovery Improvement Act of 2011 expands on legislation passed last year to eliminate improper payments.

The new bill would: 
  • Require more consistent reporting of improper payments and eliminate voluntary disclosures by contractors.
  • Create a "Do Not Pay List" of contractors who have been convicted of fraud or for a similar reason.
  • Improving data on deceased beneficiaries.
  • Set up a pilot program that uses private companies to help agencies identify improper payments.

-Jolie Lee, FederalNewsRadio.com

Friday, October 14, 2011

Panetta wants full budget audit by 2014

Defense Secretary Leon Panetta wants the Pentagon to complete a full audit of its budget by 2014, moving the deadline up by three years.

While this puts the pressure on the Pentagon to get its books in order, it is only one of four steps to completing a full financial audit.

Speaking before the House Armed Services Committee on Thursday, Panetta said the accelerated timeline would help Pentagon financial managers identify waste and track spending.

The Pentagon's latest status report on its Financial Improvement and Audit Readiness Plan — the effort to make DoD auditable by 2017 — said the vast majority of the department remains unauditable, although some small agencies are ready, and the Marine Corps by far the smallest and least complex of the military services, is likely to become the first major branch to join them.

-Kate Brannen, FederalTimes.com

EPA plagued with poor budgetary and workforce organization, GAO reports

The Environmental Protection Agency has struggled to produce accurate budget reports and deploy its workforce in an efficient manner, the Government Accountability Office reported this week.

In studies conducted from 2009 to 2011, EPA "has struggled for years to identify its human resource needs and to deploy its staff throughout the agency in a manner that would do the most good," stated the GAO report released Wednesday. The government watchdog also found the department consistently failed to provide detailed budget justifications to Congress and did not make proper use of "unliquidated balances," or funds that were appropriated to EPA but not spent.

-Andrew Lapin, GovExec.com

Thursday, October 13, 2011

OMB outlines expanded roles for federal CIOs

The White House budget director, Jack Lew, directed agency leaders to ensure their chief information officers are responsible for "true portfolio management for all IT [information technology]" and not "just policymaking."

In a new memo, Lew outlined four areas where CIOs should have a lead role:
  • Governance of agencies' IT portfolios.
  • Commodity IT purchases, such as data centers, desktops, email and business systems.
  • Management of large IT projects and programs.
  • Information security programs.

-Nicole Blake Johnson, FederalTimes.com

Friday, October 07, 2011

Effort to require online governmentwide spending reports advances on the Hill

Congressional supporters of a plan to pull all federal spending reports onto one uniform, searchable database believe they've put together a package of cost savings to offset the legislation's more than $500 million price tag, Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., said Thursday.

Issa would not reveal what's included in the offset package, saying he wanted to get the details hammered down first.

The Digital Accountability and Transparency Act, which Issa sponsored in the House, essentially would take processes developed by the Recovery Accountability and Transparency Board, which tracks and reports on spending on the $787 billion stimulus bill, and apply them to all government spending.

Supporters say the database will save billions of dollars by making it more difficult for contractors and others to defraud the government, by lowering information technology costs and by reducing errors in transferring spending data between different systems.

The Transparency Caucus also is pushing legislation to expand whistleblower protections to members of the federal intelligence community and to prohibit agency inspector generals' offices being left vacant or filled by an acting IG, Issa and Transparency Caucus co-chairman Rep. Mike Quigley, D-Ill., said.

-Joseph Marks, NextGov.com

Thursday, October 06, 2011

DOD Readies Financial Managers to Meet Goals

WASHINGTON, Oct. 6, 2011 – Recognizing the importance of people in its financial management improvements, the Defense Department is exploring new ways to recruit, retain and train its financial management workforce, a senior defense official told Congress today.

Maintaining a capable financial management workforce is a priority in Pentagon Comptroller Robert F. Hale’s financial management strategy, Sandra A. Gregory told the House Armed Services Committee’s Defense Financial Management and Auditability Reform Panel.

About 60,000 civilian and military financial managers within DOD are key players in efforts to improve financial information, analytics and decision support within the department and to achieve audit readiness, Gregory told the panel.

Among initiatives being advanced is a new DOD financial management certification program. This plan, Gregory explained, will provide “enterprisewide roadmaps on what training is most important at various points throughout federal careers.”

By next summer, DOD officials plan to code financial management positions to three different certification levels, she said. From that point, the department will develop competency assessment tools to assess the current workforce’s proficiency, identify gaps and develop plans to close those gaps.

-Donna Miles, American Forces Press Services

Sen. Carper to Panetta: Clean up military’s financial management

A Senate subcommittee chairman is urging Defense Secretary Leon Panetta to cut costs by reforming the way the military buys spare parts and correcting flawed battlefield contracting practices.

As Congress looks for ways to trim federal spending and pare the deficit, Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.) told Panetta in a letter obtained by The Hill that “every aspect of the federal budget — from entitlements to education to defense – has to be on the table.”

The Homeland Security Federal Financial Management, Government Information, Federal Services and International Security subcommittee chairman said that officials and lawmakers “should first look in every nook and cranny of the federal government to make sure that we’re getting the most bang for our buck.”

In short, Carper told Panetta that “we need to get better results for less money in almost everything we do.”

The Pentagon needs to clean up its financial management as the nation grapples with its fiscal woes, he told Panetta, a former Office of Management and Budget chief.

-John T. Bennett, TheHill.com

This Month's GAO Reports

This month's GAO Reports:

DOD Financial Management: Improved Controls, Processes, and Systems Are Needed for Accurate and Reliable Financial Information,
GAO-11-933T, September 23 (27 pages) http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-11-933T
Highlights - http://www.gao.gov/highlights/d11933thigh.pdf

DOD Financial Management: Improvement Needed in DOD Components' Implementation of Audit Readiness Effort,
GAO-11-851, September 13 (54 pages)
Highlights - http://www.gao.gov/highlights/d11851high.pdf

DOD Financial Management: Marine Corps Statement of Budgetary Resources Audit Results and Lessons Learned,
GAO-11-830, September 15 (75 pages)
Highlights - http://www.gao.gov/highlights/d11830high.pdf

DOD Financial Management: Ongoing Challenges in Implementing the Financial Improvement and Audit Readiness Plan,
GAO-11-932T, September 15 (25 pages)
Highlights - http://www.gao.gov/highlights/d11932thigh.pdf

DOD Financial Management: Weaknesses in Controls over the Use of Public Funds and Related Improper Payments,
GAO-11-950T, September 22 (33 pages)
Highlights - http://www.gao.gov/highlights/d11950Thigh.pdf

Inspectors General: Reporting on Independence, Effectiveness, and Expertise,
GAO-11-770, September 21 (32 pages)
Highlights - http://www.gao.gov/highlights/d11770high.pdf

Management Report: Opportunities for Improvements in the Congressional Award Foundation's Internal Controls and Accounting Procedures,
GAO-11-825R, September 9 (17 pages) 

Troubled Asset Relief Program: Status of GAO Recommendations to Treasury,
GAO-11-906R, September 16 (20 pages) 

Afghanistan Governance: Performance-Data Gaps Hinder Overall Assessment of U.S. Efforts to Build Financial Management Capacity, 
GAO-11-907, September 20 (53 pages)
Highlights - http://www.gao.gov/highlights/d11907high.pdf

Streamlining Government: Key Practices from Select Efficiency Initiatives Should Be Shared Governmentwide, 
GAO-11-908, September 30 (77 pages)
Highlights - http://www.gao.gov/highlights/d11908high.pdf

Wednesday, October 05, 2011

Panel urges Congress to scrap annual budget process

Congress should switch from an annual budget process to a two-year cycle to provide greater stability for federal agencies and conduct better oversight of government programs, lawmakers and witnesses said during a hearing Tuesday on Capitol Hill.

Democrats and Republicans both expressed support for approving biennial agency budgets, or even multi-year appropriations, to fix what has become a routine, last-minute process of passing continuing resolutions to keep the government operating.

The current process is "no way to run a budget or a federal government," said Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., ranking member of the Senate Budget Committee. Chairman Kent Conrad, D-N.D., said he used to favor an annual budget process, but the reality is that it's no longer possible to pass 13 spending bills each year in the current environment. "Can you imagine running one of these agencies operating on a continuing resolution for one month, three months, six months?" he asked, rhetorically, in his opening statement. In fiscal 2011, Congress passed 8 stopgap funding measures. Congress last passed all the appropriations bills on time in 1994.

Biennial budgeting would require Congress to enact a two-year budget during its first session, and then focus on oversight of federal programs, authorizing legislation and necessary measures to respond to emergencies or unforeseen events during the second session.

-Kellie Lunney, GovExec.com

Friday, September 30, 2011

As BTA closes Friday, DoD continues to foster strategic goals

As the Defense Department starts the new fiscal year Saturday, it will be pursuing some new business goals. And they'll be accompanied by a new level of accountability for meeting the seven objectives for fiscal 2012.

The Pentagon's Strategic Management Plan is an annual document designed to align DoD's business practices with the overarching goals laid out in the Quadrennial Defense Review, the Pentagon's regular study on military strategy.

One is to increase the department's energy efficiency, both on its bases and among its deployed forces. That follows the recent creation of a new director of operational energy for DoD, and the department's first-ever report on operational energyearlier this year.

Also new on the list is the goal of rebuilding and using end-to-end business processes, a topic the office of the Deputy Chief Management Officer has championed.

And one of last year's workforce goals has been stated differently this year. Last year's plan called for enhancing the civilian workforce. This year's version aims at "rightsizing" the mix between military, civilian and contractor personnel during a time of constrained resources.

Other goals include:

•Strengthening financial management,

•Building secure and agile information technology capabilities,

•Increasing the buying power of the department and

•Creating agile business operations that support contingency missions

Some of the areas are updates to goals in previous years' plans, but there are also some new priorities on this year's list.

Also this week, DoD will officially dismantle the agency that was in some ways the forerunner to the Deputy Chief Management Officer. Former Defense Secretary Robert Gates identified the closure of the Business Transformation Agency as part of the efficiency initiatives introduced last year.

-Jared Serbu, FederalNewsRadio.com

Monday, September 26, 2011

AGA to Conduct Research on the Consolidated Financial Statements of the U.S. Government

Research will identify potential solutions and develop plans of action to facilitate the reconciliation of the Government’s budgetary and financial information, and consequently mitigate long-standing material weaknesses contributing to the disclaimer of audit opinion on the Federal Government’s Consolidated Financial Statements (CFS) .

Alexandria, VA – As part of its ongoing efforts to conduct timely and relevant research to benefit governmental accounting, auditing, and financial management, the Association of Government Accountants (AGA) will be researching long-standing financial management weaknesses in the processes used to compile the federal government's financial statements.

AGA's research is expected to produce recommendations and a suggested plan of action to address some of the key material audit weaknesses contributing to the disclaimer of opinion on Consolidated Financial Statements (CFS) of the U.S. Government. The project will also outline optimal preparation and compilation architecture for the government-wide entity. In so doing, AGA hopes that its research will benefit the Federal financial management community as a whole and facilitate Treasury's responsibilities as preparer of the CFS.


Better oversight of contracts called key to repairing Pentagon ledgers

Improving oversight and administration of defense contracts is the key to victory in Pentagon financial managers' struggle to meet a 2017 deadline for auditable books, a Defense Department deputy inspector general official said Friday.

"From the contract officer level to the contract officer on the ground, the more improvement in regulation and oversight of contracts, the more we will know about how we are spending the taxpayers' money," Daniel Blair, deputy inspector general for auditing at Defense, told lawmakers.

Members of the House Oversight and Government Reform Subcommittee on Government Organization, Efficiency and Financial Management heard testimony from three financial management specialists discussing the 14-year-plus effort to integrate some 2,200 separate Pentagon business systems -- handling $2 billion to $3 billion in transactions daily -- to achieve auditability and to get Defense accounting systems off the Government Accountability Office's high-risk list.

Defense Secretary Leon Panetta on Thursday reiterated his position that book-keeping problems must be solved quickly.

Of the 14 Defense entities that are required to prepare annual financial statements, only two have achieved an unqualified opinion, said Blair, the two being the Military Retirement Fund and the Army Corps of Engineers Civil Works. In the push to meet the 2017 deadline, which involves standing up new systems that cost $9 billion, some milestones have already begun to slip, he said.

-Charles S. Clark, GovExec.com

Programmer, procurement staff failings contribute to software attacks

When hackers take advantage of a software flaw in a federal financial system to steal credit card numbers, procurement officers and program developers are both to blame for the intrusion, some information security specialists say.

Vulnerabilities stem from the inadequate training of software engineers, as well as inadequate requirements from acquisition officers. In the old days, when software operated in an isolated system, developers thought threats would be limited to that computer's physical area. In today's networked world, however, software is operating in environments that the developer may not have had in mind when building a program.

-Aliya Sternstein, NextGov.com

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

20 years later, CFO Act needs some freshening up

Congress must standardize the role of the federal chief financial officer and give deputy CFOs more clout to make up for time between political appointments of CFOs.

These are two of the recommendations from a multi-agency review of the impact and shortcomings of the CFO Act of 1990. Congress required the analysis as part of the Improper Payments Elimination and Recovery Act of 2010.

"Over the past 20 years, the CFO Act has played a pivotal role in improving financial accountability and transparency across the federal government," wrote Danny Werfel, the Office of Management and Budget controller in a blog post. "The report highlights several benefits of the CFO Act, including the increased transparency, greater accountability and significant improvements in financial management and internal controls achieved in recent years. Last year, these strides contributed to 21 out of the 24 CFO Act agencies obtaining unqualified 'Clean' opinions on their financial statement audits--only the second time in the last decade that the government reached that milestone."

The CFO Act helped agencies strengthen financial controls and processes over the last 20 years. Previously, the report stated financial operations were ineffective and inefficient, weak internal controls left resources at risk, personnel were not adequately trained and financial systems could not communicate with each other and were often redundant. The report said fund balances with the Department of the Treasury were reconciled inconsistently, and the government had difficulty managing its assets and costs. The lack of a full-time centralized senior official overseeing agency funding also caused agencies problems prior to the act.

But one of the big holes the review group found was the lack of continuity among agency financial leaders since most CFOs are political appointees.

The review group recommended to Congress to give deputy CFOs the same breadth of responsibilities as the CFOs.

-Jason Miller, FederalNewsRadio.com

Living With Continuing Resolutions

Continuing resolutions (CRs) are here to stay. Although administrators fear CRs might wreak havoc with agency programs and budget plans, administrators can prepare for CRs to minimize disruption and normalize operations.

The U.S. Constitution requires Congress to pass appropriations bills before federal agencies can spend government monies. The congressional budget process aims to pass these bills before the start of each fiscal year. However,

Congress has not always been able to pass regular appropriations bills on time, and thus developed a temporary appropriation, called a continuing resolution (CR), to fund agencies until their regular appropriations bills are passed.

Congress attempted to address its inability to pass annual appropriations bills on time by changing the start of the federal fiscal year, from July 1 to October 1, in the 1974 Congressional Budget and Impoundment Control Act.

The plan worked—for one year. Congress has passed all appropriations bills before October 1 only three times in the 34 years from 1978 to 2011.
-Thad Juszak, ThePublicManager.org

Lawmakers press DoD for better bookkeeping

Every month, troops get their paychecks, military commands buy billions of dollars in gear, and operations roll on worldwide.

Yet the Defense Department has never been able to account for where all that money and equipment goes.

That failure is a growing concern for lawmakers in Washington who are debating whether to slash the Pentagon's $553 billion annual budget.

"During these times of resource constraints and budget cuts, it's imperative that the Department of Defense have reliable, useful and timely information for decision making," Rep. Michael Conaway, R-Texas, told a panel of Pentagon brass on Capitol Hill on Thursday.

Conaway and other lawmakers are pressing the Defense Department to step up oversight of its money and equipment with the goal of conducting a formal audit by 2017.

-Andrew Tilghman, FederalTimes.com

W. Todd Grams: Changing outmoded VA management practices

The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has long functioned as if it were three distinct business entities—health care, benefits and cemeteries—and never fully integrated its financial management, acquisition, human resources, capital investment and technology functions across the organization.

With a mandate for change from the VA’s top leadership, W. Todd Grams led two major transformational initiatives designed to create a coherent and unified department, streamline access points for VA beneficiaries, reduce costs per beneficiary, and ultimately deliver better care to more veterans.

During fiscal 2010, Grams, the VA’s executive in charge of management and chief financial officer, established a new integrated management governance structure for the VA’s business key functions. This involved the updating 140 policies, streamlining hiring processes for acquisition personnel, implementing a self-service employee benefit portal and training 2,375 employees in financial management.

Grams and his leadership team also successfully led the effort for the first time to combine all of the department’s investment planning efforts involving construction, leasing and non-recurring maintenance—a portfolio accounting for nearly $100 billion. For decades, planning and investment decisions for VA capital infrastructure took place in stovepipes, at times resulting in duplicative efforts and poor use of taxpayer dollars.

Additionally, Grams led his team through an in-depth analysis of VA’s financial management priorities. This review stopped a $500 million financial systems overhaul in its initial stages and redirected funding from this high-risk venture into new programs that will generate greater benefit at significantly lower cost. The changes have dramatically improved controls over a $14 billion purchasing program.

- The Partnership for Public Service, Published: September 16

DOD correcting mismanagement of financial records

The Defense Department is making progress in rectifying its mismanagement of financial records and improving its accountability, including by implementing new IT strategies, but problems remain in carrying out enterprisewide reform, officials have told a Senate panel.

“We continue to make important progress but also face significant challenges in transforming all elements of the DOD business environment in order to produce high quality, timely and reliable financial information,” DOD Comptroller Robert Hale said in a Sept. 15 statement submitted to a subcommittee of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee.

Another hearing examining DOD financial management is scheduled for Sept. 23 before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee.

Hale and Elizabeth McGrath, DOD's deputy chief management officer, outlined their goals and some of their successes so far before the Federal Financial Management, Government Information, Federal Services and International Security Subcommittee.

They also testified about the importance of new IT systems to help bring financial management up to date.

-Amber Corrin, FCW.com

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Cabinet Accountability for Cutting Waste

When he launched the Campaign to Cut Waste in June, President Obama asked the Vice President to take on a new role holding the Cabinet accountable for cutting waste in their agencies to help make government more efficient and responsive to the American people. As a part of that effort, the Vice President today convened the first Cabinet waste reduction meeting and announced over $2 billion in anti-waste measures.

Joined by agency leaders from across the government, the Vice President announced a new initiative to fight waste in health care, unveiled efforts to track state progress in reducing improper Unemployment Insurance payments, and directed Cabinet Secretaries to undertake waste and efficiency reviews that will target unnecessary, wasteful, and inefficient federal spending.

-Jack Lew, OMB

DoD failed to report misspent funds, lawmakers claim

The Defense Department has failed to properly notify Congress of hundreds of millions of dollars in misspent funds, several lawmakers wrote Tuesday in a letter to the Pentagon's chief financial officer and comptroller.

The letter to undersecretary of Defense Robert Hale, written by Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.) and co-signed by 12 other senators and representatives cites violations of the Antideficiency Act totaling $817 million. The violations were identified by DoD but were never reported to Congress, the lawmakers wrote, citing reports by the DoD Inspector General and the Government Accountability Office.

The violations were related to budgets in 2005 and 2008, according to a statement from Carper's office.

The Antideficiency Act prohibits agencies from spending or obligating more money than Congress has authorized from a particular fund or for a particular purpose. In the event an agency determines it has violated the act, it is required to report "immediately to the President and Congress all relevant facts and a statement of actions taken."

The act carries both administrative and criminal penalties; knowing and willful violations can bring up to five years in prison.

-Jared Serbu, FederalNewsRadio.com

No big budget deal before 2012 election, says former comptroller general

Addressing the nation's budget crisis requires a "grand bargain" -- even double the $1.5 trillion Congress aims to save by Thanksgiving -- and such a deal is politically unlikely until after the 2012 elections, former Comptroller General David Walker said on Wednesday.

-Charles S. Clark, FederalNewsRadio.com

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Cracks in security leave DHS financial systems vulnerable to abuse

Security weaknesses in the computers that track money for the Homeland Security Department could lead to a substantial mistake in the agency's financial statements, according to a federal audit.

KPMG analysts hired by the DHS inspector general to assess the department's various financial systems for the fiscal year ending Sept. 30, 2010, found about 160 deficiencies, or inadequate controls, most of which -- 65 percent -- were repeats of the previous year's problems. The IG office released a redacted version of the April 26 report on Monday.

Among the information technology inadequacies highlighted: ex-employees were still able to logon to their accounts and unauthorized outsiders successfully acquired user passwords from DHS personnel.

-Alicia Sternstein, NextGov.com

Friday, September 09, 2011

Air Force at risk of missing financial audit deadline

The Air Force may not meet the 2017 deadline to have a clean financial audit.

Air Force comptroller Jamie Morin told House lawmakers Thursday the state of information technologies plays into service readiness.

Morin said the Air Force has made "real progress," but "the 2017 deadline will be challenging for the Air Force. We do see moderate risk but with a high level of leadership commitment we feel we are on track to make the deadline. IT systems modernization is an inescapable part of the Air Force effort."

Congress put the Defense Department on notice in the National Defense Authorization Act for fiscal year 2010 when it required the Pentagon to validate its financial statements as ready for audit not later than Sept. 30, 2017.

Other Defense services told the House Armed Services Committee's Panel on Defense Financial Management and Auditability Reform they are on track to meet the deadline, or already have a clean audit opinion.

The Army Corps of Engineers, for instance, already has earned clean audit opinion by independent examiners. The Marine Corps is currently undergoing an audit of its statement of budgetary resources.

Offices from the departments of the Army and Navy expressed confidence that they will meet the 2017 deadline.

-Peter Buxbaum, FederalNewsRadio.com

Tuesday, September 06, 2011

Agencies Fall Short on Financial Management, House Panel Says

U.S. government agencies aren’t doing enough to share spending information with the public and still rely on manual processes to manage financial data, according to a House committee.

Federal agencies use “a tangled web” of systems to handle accounting of contracts, grants and other financial information, according to a report today from the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee summarizing the results of a survey of 26 agencies.

“Our analysis shows these systems are not serving taxpayers well,” Representative Darrell Issa, a California Republican and chairman of the panel, said in a news release.

Lawmakers on the panel had asked 26 agencies in March about their financial management practices, including accounting and grants management, and contracts management systems. The agencies also were asked to report on the interaction of their financial systems and the extent of their public reporting of financial data, according to the statement.

Issa introduced the Digital Accountability and Transparency Act of 2011 in June to encourage a governmentwide examination of federal spending by making such information publicly available, according to the release.

-Juliann Francis, Bloomberg.com

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Where is Congress with appropriations?

When Congress returns September 7 from its August recess, at the forefront of its priorities will be the completion of the annual appropriations bills. This is true in any calendar year, given that the federal government's fiscal year begins October 1, but may be especially pertinent this year with the new congressional super committee scheduled to meet.

Where is Congress in passing the 12 major appropriations bills for fiscal 2012 by September 30? They still have a ways to go. So far, the House has passed only six of the bills and the Senate only one.

A graphic representation showing at what stage each bill has reached and the historical trends for "on-time" enactment is provided in the article.

-Kenneth Chambelain, GovExec.com

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Office of Management and Budget puts accountability online

If you’re a bureaucracy junkie, the Office of Management and Budget has a cool toy for you.

Performance.gov is a Web site OMB plans to launch at midday Thursday. It allows users to track the progress, or lack of it, federal agencies are making in a number of areas. Actually much more than a toy for geeks, it can be an important means of holding the administration accountable on its plans to make the government more user-friendly.

The site has several areas of focus — including acquisition, financial management, technology, performance improvement, customer service and human resources.

-Joe Davidson, WashingtonPost.com


Pentagon puts 'faith' in achieving clean audit by 2017

It's the law: The Defense Department must know how it spends every cent of its budget by 2017. But the agency said only 14 percent of its budget is now auditable.

Deputy chief financial officer Mark Easton jokingly said he's overseeing a "faith-based initiative."

But with budget cuts on one hand and the continuing costs of war on the other, Easton said he has a lot of faith in preparing the nation's biggest employer for a complete financial audit by 2017.

The Pentagon has been trying to prepare its books for a complete financial audit for more than 20 years. A few departments, including the Army Corps of Engineers, are on track.

"But the picture is different when we look at the Army, the Navy, the Marine Corps and the Air Force," said Asif Khan, the Government Accountability Office's director of financial management and assurance, who joined Easton on the panel.

Khan said one of the biggest problems is DoD hasn't been able to operate what he calls the "building blocks of sound financial management" — the technology known as enterprise resource planning systems (ERPs) that would help them collect, analyze and prepare data.

-Emily Kopp, FederalNewsRadio.com

Friday, August 19, 2011

OMB Releases Circular A-11 and GPRA Guidance

OMB Circular A-11:
Agency Instructions for Preparation, Submission, and Execution of the Budget

OMB Memorandum M-11-31:
Delivering an Efficient, Effective, and Accountable Government


Analysis: How agencies get to a 5 percent budget cut in 2013

Agencies must cut 2013 budgets by at least 5 percent of enacted discretionary spending this year and submit a version of a budget requests that makes an additional 5 percent in discretionary cuts. The mandate is outlined in a memo from Office of Management and Budget Director Jacob Lew.

Non-defense and non-national security agencies will be impacted the most by this mandate, said Doug Davidson, director in the Global Public Sector Practice at Grant Thornton, and the publisher of the Federal Financial Management News blog, FedCFO.com.

-Jolie Lee, FederalNewsRadio.com

OMB orders agencies to plan for 2013 budget cuts of up to 10%

Agency heads must plan 2013 budgets that are up to 10 percent below this year's discretionary spending levels, according to newly released instructions from the Office of Management and Budget. In addition, leaders need to identify cost-saving efforts to improve efficiency, and take into consideration areas of overlap and duplication identified by the Government Accountability Office.

-Sean Reilly, FederalTimes.com

Thursday, August 18, 2011

OMB Releases Performance Management Expectations

OMB instructed Agencies on its expectations for Delivering an Efficient, Effective, and Accountable Government by providing immediate attention to GPRA and Executive Order 13576.

OMB Memo M-11-31

OMB Releases 2013 Budget Guidance

The President calls for agency requests for 2013 to be at least 5 percent below 2011 enacted discretionary appropriations and for budget submissions to also identify additional discretionary funding reductions that would bring requests to a level that is at least 10 percent below 2011 enacted discretionary appropriation. 

READ Memo M-11-30...

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Risky business: US states cutting financial management

Aug 16 (Reuters) - Many states, walloped by budget problems, have cut spending on financial management and put themselves at greater risk of fraud and theft while making it harder to bring in revenues, according a survey released on Tuesday.

About eight out of 10 state financial managers said that budget cuts "mean new kinds of risks for their governments' financial and operations activities," according to the Association of Government Accountants' Annual CFO Survey.

They are having a harder time rooting out fraud, waste and abuse, the financial officers told the survey, which was conducted by Grant Thorton LLP's Global Public Sector. They also do not have as many monitors in place to make sure employees do not abuse systems, such as charging the state for excessive or fraudulent travel.

The cuts might also catch states in a trap, causing them to lose more revenues. The survey of state government workers, state financial officers, and federal employees such as Inspectors General, found that states could end up losing federal funds "if they cannot comply with federal reporting and other requirements that accompany the money."

-Lisa Lambert, Reuters.com

$1.7 billion in errors in Defense recovery data

Defense Department spending data submitted to Recovery.gov contained $1.7 billion in errors. That's according to a new report out from the DoD Inspector General's office. Analysis of DOD's reporting found the agency did not have adequate controls in place to ensure the stimulus spending data they were sending was accurate. The IG's office making three recommendations for Defense including: Setting up a quality assurance plan to make sure data is reported accurately, setting policies for employees who review the data, and creating periodic data quality reviews.


Pentagon faulted for not collecting contractor debts

The Defense Department has allowed delinquent contractors to avoid paying as much as $209 million owed the government, according to a letter released on Monday by four senators.

The bipartisan group, whose members serve on the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, asked the Pentagon for a current inventory of contractor accounts receivable and pending contractor debt in dollar amounts from fiscal 2005 through fiscal 2010.

"In these times of ever shrinking budgets, a soaring deficit and disturbingly high levels of wasteful spending across the federal government, the Department of Defense must do all it can to get its fiscal house in order," said Sen. Tom Carper, D-Del., chairman of the Subcommittee on Federal Financial Management, in the letter to Teresa McKay, director of the Defense Finance and Accounting Service. "The department's poor bookkeeping can mean that delinquent contractors who owe the government money might actually still be receiving payments from the government."

The senators based their charges of poor financial management on a July 15 Defense inspector general report titled "Defense Finance and Accounting Service Needs More Effective Controls Over Managing Contractor Debt."

-Charles S. Clark, GovExec.com

Monday, August 15, 2011

Budget chaos reigns: 2012, 2013 plans in disarray in wake of debt deal

Federal financial managers are accustomed to dealing with budget challenges. But rarely have they faced the combination of challenges now heading their way:

• With seven weeks to go before the next fiscal year begins, Congress has not passed any of the dozen spending bills that keep the government operating; and most agencies, if not all, will likely enter the fiscal year under a continuing resolution.

• The Office of Management and Budget has not given any guidance to agencies on how to prepare their 2013 budget submissions, which are due to OMB in only a few weeks. That OMB guidance typically goes out to agencies in June, but it has been sidetracked by uncertainty created by the lengthy and inconclusive debt ceiling negotiations.

Many experts forecast another bruising partisan clash over the 2012 budget — as there was this year over the 2011 budget — that may again threaten the shutdown of some agencies.

-Sean Reill, FederalTimes.com

Thursday, August 11, 2011

NDU CFO Academy Seeks Faculty


WASHINGTON, DC 20319-5066

NDU iCollege Announcement No.: 11-0003

Opening Date: 3 August 2011
Closing Date: 17 August 2011

Position: Assistant Professor / Associate Professor / Professor (Government Financial Management and Leadership)

Salary Range: $95,510 - $155,500 (Based on Education and Experience)

Position Information: Full-time Position (This is a Title 10 Excepted Service

Appointment. Appointment NTE 3 years with the possibility for extension.)

Duty Location: Ft. McNair, Washington, DC

Who May Be Considered: All qualified U.S. Citizen Candidates

Serves as a recognized expert and professor of government management and leadership at the Information Resources Management College (iCollege) contributing expertise in government financial management and leadership, and oversight of federal agency budgeting and financial operations; development and maintenance of integrated financial and accounting management systems, including financial reporting and internal controls; and monitoring agency financial performance. Prepares curriculum and instructional materials and delivers instruction face-to-face and online government financial management and leadership for the CFO Academy. Participates in the planning and development of courses of study in iCollege educational programs, including the Chief Financial Officer Leadership Certificate, Government Strategic Leader, Chief Information Officer, Chief Technology Officer, Cyber Security, Cyber Leadership, Enterprise Architecture, and Information Technology Project Management Certificate.

Recommends course topics and content, instructional methods, and other aspects of the educational programs. Serves as research advisor to individual students on topics related to national security. Provides analyses of management and leadership issues to develop new concepts and approaches to issues of significant national security. Conducts studies, prepares papers, and gives presentations in relevant areas of government financial management and leadership.

Leads and participates in collaborative relationships as a member of the iCollege faculty to ensure the accomplishment of college mission, specifically the CFO Academy. Serves as liaison with DoD and other government agencies, civilian institutions and businesses through various meetings, conferences and symposia, as appropriate. Ensures professional currency with substantive topics and issues, and instructional and assessment techniques in relevant areas. Fosters professional relationships with senior leaders in education, industry, DoD, and other government agencies in the field of government leadership and management.

QUALIFICATIONS: Applicants should have progressive professional experience in a relevant area; evidence of maturity as a scholar. Teaching experience at the university level is preferred. Applicants will be rated by subject matter experts appointed with the purpose of identifying the best-qualified candidates on the basis of the criteria listed below and the potential to accomplish the duties.

How to make performance top agency priority

Peter Grace, Director of Office of Strategic Planning and Management, HUD

Performance is the name of the game. The Office of Management and Budget has recently made some major changes to the Government Performance and Results Act (GPRA). Those changes were the subject of this year's Second Annual AGA Performance Conference. Peter Grace, director of Office of Strategic Planning and Management at the Department of Urban and Housing Development, discusses how agencies can improve efficiency, effectiveness and performance.


Tuesday, August 09, 2011

After debt deal, agencies face budget uncertainties

Now that a debt ceiling deal is struck, agency financial managers are struggling to figure out their budgets for next year and beyond — and planning for the worst.

With the start of fiscal 2012 less than two months away, many experts expect agencies will have to live under a continuing resolution for at least several months past October; some observers expect the renewed prospect of a government shutdown to emerge from the political standoffs in Congress already being anticipated.

Many federal financial planners are preparing for big cuts. Well before the debt ceiling legislation passed last week, for example, Defense Department officials were running scenarios for absorbing several hundred billion dollars in projected spending cuts over the next decade, said a Navy financial manager who spoke last week on condition of anonymity.

The results will be woven into an adjustment of the Pentagon fiscal 2012 budget request that will likely be ready when Congress returns early next month from its August recess, the manager said. On top of long-term reductions already in place, those contained in the debt ceiling law represent "real dollars, real money and real hurt," he said.

At other agencies, the caps on discretionary spending contained in the legislation will likely keep them focused on belt-tightening already underway.

OMB has not yet issued any 2013 budget guidance to agencies, a spokeswoman said.

At the moment, however, lawmakers aren't even close to wrapping up work on the fiscal 2012 budget. Of the dozen appropriations bills needed to keep the government in business, none has been signed into law. The Republican-run House of Representatives has approved only six; the Democratic-controlled Senate, just one. And one of the largest and most politically charged — legislation to fund the Health and Human Services Department — has not moved in either chamber.

Shutdown scenarios will likely accompany the ensuing budget brinkmanship, Lilly said, with the odds of a deal uncertain. For agencies, he added, the process raises "tons" of uncertainties, such as how much money they will have to obligate for grants and contracts. "It also pushes the bureaucracy to more haphazard decision-making, which ultimately is the way we waste money."

-Sean Reilly, FederalTimes.com

Treasury Internet push may speed $532 billion to U.S. vendors

A Treasury Department push for electronic invoicing for federal contractors could speed payments and save the government $450 million a year, the government says.

Treasury, which purchased about $6 billion in goods and services last year, is mandating that by 2013 its offices and bureaus must receive invoices from vendors via its new Internet payment system.

Because most U.S. agencies still rely on paper invoices, government-wide adoption of electronic billing could cut payment processing times in half, accelerate cash flow for vendors, and reduce late-payment interest charges. Those innovations would save the government $450 million a year, according to a Treasury statement issued on July 13. The government paid contractors a total of $532 billion in fiscal 2010.
Treasury said its bureaus and offices, whose roles include processing tax returns, seizing terrorist assets, printing U.S. currency and regulating banks, would save $7 million a year by using the platform, which is maintained for Treasury by the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston.

The Defense, Interior and Agriculture departments already use electronic invoicing. Interior, the Social Security Administration, and Agriculture’s Forest Service use the new system, known as the Internet Payment Platform, said Adam Goldberg, director of the Treasury’s Office of Financial Transformation and Innovation, formed last year. The Justice Department and the Census Bureau, which issued a request for industry input on electronic invoicing last month, have expressed interest.

-Nishad Majmudar, WashingtonPost.com

Friday, July 29, 2011

White House Launches Government Accountability and Transparency Board to Cut Waste and Boost Accountability

WASHINGTON, D.C. --- Today, the Obama Administration is announcing the launch of the Government Accountability and Transparency Board. The Board, first announced by the President and Vice President in June as part of the Campaign to Cut Waste, will focus on rooting out misspent tax dollars and making government spending more accessible and transparent for the American people. Today, the President named several of the nation’s top watchdogs and leaders on government accountability to the board, which will be led by interim chairman Earl Devaney. The Board is holding their first meeting this morning to begin developing plans to enhance transparency in federal spending and root out and stop waste, fraud, and abuse in federal programs.

Today, the President announced the appointment of the following federal officials to the Board:

• Earl E. Devaney – Chairman, Recovery Accountability and Transparency Board
• Ashton B. Carter – Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology & Logistics, Department of Defense
• W. Scott Gould – Deputy Secretary of Veterans Affairs, Department of Veterans Affairs
• Allison C. Lerner – Inspector General, National Science Foundation
• Daniel R. Levinson – Inspector General, Department of Health and Human Services
• Ellen Murray – Assistant Secretary for Financial Resources and Chief Financial Officer, Department of Health and Human Services
• Calvin L. Scovel III – Inspector General, Department of Transportation
• Kathleen S. Tighe – Inspector General, Department of Education
• Daniel I. Werfel – Controller, Office of Management and Budget
• David C. Williams – Inspector General, United States Postal Service
• Neal S. Wolin – Deputy Secretary of the Treasury, Department of the Treasury

The Board will recommend a broad range of strategies to make spending data more reliable and accessible to the American people. They will also make recommendations to broaden the Administration’s use of cutting edge technology to crack down on fraud, and focus on integrating data systems and using data for better decision-making. In doing so, the Board will offer a comprehensive vision for the management of federal spending that will fundamentally change how government works. And it will ensure that this vision is executed in the most cost-effective, efficient and logical manner.


Thursday, July 28, 2011

Today's GAO Publications

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

Information Technology: DHS Needs to Improve Its Independent Acquisition Reviews.
GAO-11-581, July 28.

Highlights - http://www.gao.gov/highlights/d11581high.pdf

American Battle Monuments Commission: Improvements Needed in Internal Controls and Accounting Procedures-Fiscal Year 2010.
GAO-11-577R, July 28.


Improper Payments: Reported Medicare Estimates and Key Remediation Strategies, by Kay L. Daly, director, financial management and assurance, and Kathleen M. King, director, health care, before the Subcommittee on Government Organization, Efficiency, and Financial Management, House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform.
GAO-11-842T, July 28.
Highlights - http://www.gao.gov/highlights/d11842thigh.pdf

DOD Financial Management: Numerous Challenges Must Be Addressed to Achieve Auditability, by Asif A. Khan, director, financial management and assurance, before the Panel on DOD Financial Management, House Committee on Armed Services.
GAO-11-864T, July 28.
Highlights - http://www.gao.gov/highlights/d11864thigh.pdf

DoD ERP implementation woes include feeder systems

Worries about the Defense Department's implementation of enterprise resource planning systems increasingly encompasses data quality from feeder systems.
The Army has hired an independent auditor to examine its financial management ERP, the General Fund Enterprise Business System, for whether "we are using it in a way to include the feeder systems that's auditable," said Robert Hale, the DoD comptroller, during a July 27 Senate hearing.

Hale said plans exist to do a similar check with the Navy "in the context of a major defense acquisition program" and later with the Air Force ERP, the Defense Enterprise Accounting and Management System.

Jamie Morin, the Air Force comptroller, told the committee that DEAMS detects bad data from feeder systems more readily than legacy systems. DEAMS "told us thousands of transactions were not meeting standards, which instantly brought the level of management attention to fix the problem," he said.

Meanwhile, when parts deemed worth saving from the to-be-shuttered Business Transformation Agency are moved into the office of the Defense Department deputy chief management officer, the modernized financial system the BTA has been using will go on hiatus for a while, DCMO Elizabeth McGrath said.

The financial system, the Defense Agencies Initiative, would be an anomaly among secretary of defense offices were the DCMO to start utilizing it immediately, McGrath said before the subcommittee.

But the plan is not to shutter DAI, McGrath said. "We're moving to DAI. We're not doing it today, because I'm a component of the overall OSD budget," she added.

-David Perera, FierceGovernmentIT.com

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Today's GAO Publications

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

Disability Insurance: SSA Can Improve Efforts to Detect, Prevent, and Recover Overpayments.
Highlights - http://www.gao.gov/highlights/d11724high.pdf

DOD Financial Management: Numerous Challenges Must Be Addressed to Improve Reliability of Financial Information, by Asif A. Khan, director, financial management and assurance, before the Subcommittee on Readiness and Management Support, Senate Committee on Armed Services.
GAO-11-835T, July 27.
Highlights - http://www.gao.gov/highlights/d11835thigh.pdf

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Senator Carper, others introduce bill to supplement Improper Payments Law

Dover — Senators introduced a bill to bolster the Anti-Wasteful Spending Law, building on the landmark Improper Payments Law signed one year ago.

Sen. Tom Carper, chairman of the subcommittee on federal financial management, introduced legislation that builds on IPERA's initiatives and takes additional steps to identify, prevent and recover improper payments by federal agencies. Senators Joe Lieberman, Susan Collins and Scott Brown join senator Carper as cosponsors.

The Improper Payments Elimination and Recovery Improvement Act of 2011 goes beyond IPERA's goals for curbing agencies' improper payments with three main concepts, including provisions that: expand requirements and strengthen estimates for agencies' improper payments; mandate the establishment of a government-wide "Do Not Pay List;" and require Recovery Audit Contractor(RAC) pilot programs across federal agencies. According to an Office of Management and Budget estimate, federal agencies made nearly $125 billion in improper payments in 2010.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Federal Executive CFO and CAO Roundtable Luncheon

The executives at Fedscoop are putting together a Federal Executive CFO and CAO Roundtable Luncheon Tuesday August 2, 2011 at Bibiana Restaurant, (at the corner of 12th St NW and H St NW) from 12:00pm to 2:00pm. Due to space restrictions- the event is open to current government employees only.

Register Here...

This casual gathering will provide agency finance and operations leaders an opportunity to discuss different ways of leveraging technology and technology procurements to lower the cost of agency operations. This luncheon will bring together colleagues and peers to share real life examples, best practices, and proven methods for reducing costs while creating momentum around strategic, but unfunded, IT mandates that aim to enhance operational efficiencies.

FedScoop events bring leaders from the White House, Federal Agencies, Academia, and the High Tech Industry together to discuss top issues facing the Government IT Community. For a full list of past FedScoop speakers, please go to:

Thursday, July 07, 2011

Sen. Tom Carper: An IT champion by necessity

Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.) wants the federal government to achieve better results for less money, and he believes IT is one way to reach that goal.

That belief has led Carper, Delaware’s senior senator, to spend the past few years championing IT-related issues on Capitol Hill, including cybersecurity and IT management reform.

IT might not be the juiciest area to oversee, but it speaks to Carper’s main objective: improving government performance and efficiency.

In April, Carper introduced legislation that would put elements of the administration’s IT management reform plan into law.

The bill would require agency CIOs and the Office of Management and Budget to conduct systematic reviews of IT projects that are experiencing performance problems. It would also codify the federal IT Dashboard and increase congressional oversight of IT.

Carper proposed the bill — called the Information Technology Investment Management Act of 2011 (S. 801) — in response to a series of hearings he has held in the past three years to examine federal agencies’ management of costly high-risk IT projects.

Carper, chairman of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee’s Federal Financial Management, Government Information, Federal Services and International Security Subcommittee, introduced the new bill the same day his subcommittee held a hearing on the progress of IT reform. Sen. Scott Brown (R-Mass.) and fellow IT champions Sens. Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) co-sponsored the bill.

Carper said he proposed the legislation to make sure programs in place now will continue beyond the tenure of Kundra (who announced his resignation in June) and the current administration.

Carper said the bill includes baseline cost, schedule and performance overruns that would trigger reviews by agency CIOs or the federal CIO. The metrics would give executive branch officials insight into whether they should take dramatic action and perhaps pull the plug on a failing project, he added.

-Alyah Khan, FCW.com

Today's GAO Publications

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

Defense Acquisitions: DOD Can Improve Its Management of Configuration Steering Boards.
GAO-11-640, July 7.
Highlights - http://www.gao.gov/highlights/d11640high.pdf

Air Force Working Capital Fund: Budgeting and Management of Carryover Work and Funding Could Be Improved.
GAO-11-539, July 7.
Highlights - http://www.gao.gov/highlights/d11539high.pdf

Wednesday, July 06, 2011

Auditors say Army financial ERP program at high risk

An Army enterprise resource planning system--which, if fully implemented, would be one of the world's largest public sector ERPs--is at high risk of running even more over schedule and budget and resulting in a system that falls short of objectives, says the Defense Department inspector general.

In a report dated June 15, the DoD OIG finds that the financial management system known as the General Fund Enterprise Business System continues to lack a detailed data conversion plan and supported cost estimates.

DoD auditors first publically noted both problems in 2008, but the Army and Defense Department have not implemented seven of the 16 recommendations they made at the time, the report says.

-David Perera, FierceGovernmentIT.com

US Senators Push Agencies To Speed Up Sale Of Excess Property

WASHINGTON -(Dow Jones)- Two senators are urging federal agencies to speed up the sale of unneeded buildings that cost taxpayers billions to operate annually, as part of an effort to curb waste within the federal government.

Sen. Tom Carper (D., Del.), chairman of homeland security and governmental affairs subcommittee on federal financial management, and Sen. Rob Portman (R., Ohio), a former White House budget director, this week asked eight agencies for updates on how each one is proceeding with its disposal of underused or unneeded real property.

The letters, which were sent Tuesday but not released until Wednesday, come amid an ongoing push by the Obama administration to save $3 billion by the end of the fiscal year through the sale of such property. Fiscal 2012 ends in September of next year.

-Andrew Ackerman, Dow Jones Newswires


Thursday, June 30, 2011

DoD business systems oversight not good enough, says GAO

Business systems oversight at the Defense Department continues to fall short, says the Government Accountability Office in a June 29 report.

According to data from the Deputy Chief Management Officer, the Defense Department has budgeted $23.58 billion on business systems in the current fiscal year, which ends Oct. 1. The GAO report cites a different figure, that of $17.4 billion, but also notes that DoD business system reporting mechanisms are inconsistent from one to the other.

-David Perera, FierceGovernmentIT.com

Read more: DoD business systems oversight not good enough, says GAO - FierceGovernmentIT http://www.fiercegovernmentit.com/story/dod-business-systems-oversight-not-good-enough-says-gao/2011-06-30?utm_medium=nl&utm_source=internal#ixzz1Qn3J3KvL 

Running a federal financial system often a juggling act

An industry task force advising the White House on financial system modernization programs at federal agencies recommended a sustainment strategy that combines ongoing management with a clear view of the long-term business architecture, according to the group's report.

-Alice Lipowicz, WashingtonTechnology.com

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

ACT-IAC Recommends New Approach to Sustaining Federal Financial Management Systems

FAIRFAX, Va.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--The American Council for Technology’s Industry Advisory Council (IAC) today released a report it has provided to the Office of Management and Budget with recommendations on how to improve the sustainability of Federal financial management systems. The findings and recommendations were shared with OMB and the Federal Chief Financial Officer’s Council prior to the report’s release.

The Administration has embarked upon a major initiative to improve the acquisition and management of the Federal government’s information technology assets (see the Federal CIO’s 25 Point Implementation Plan to Reform Federal Information Technology Management, December 9, 2010). A key part of this strategy is to replace large-scale systems acquisitions with a more segmented approach that focuses on business needs. The OMB Office of Federal Financial Management asked ACT-IAC to provide industry recommendations on how to apply this new strategy to Federal financial management systems. IAC was asked to address four questions:

1.Given that agencies usually maintain a hybrid environment including modernized system components integrated with legacy systems, how can agencies most effectively maintain functionality and improve performance over time? Is change management of this magnitude within the capability of most Federal agencies?

2.When is a system truly on its “last legs”? What criteria should be used to make decisions between incremental investments in an existing system and larger investments in a modernization initiative?

3.Is there a way to incentivize software providers to introduce upgrades in a manner that best serves the taxpayer?

4.What new paradigms exist or are just now emerging that might help apply game changing approaches to the first three questions?

In response to this request, IAC assembled a working group of experienced subject matter experts from 22 companies in the financial and information technology industries. The working group was chaired by Anne Reed (ASI Government) and Andrew McLauchlin (CGI). The working group met over the course of the spring to gather information and form conclusions and recommendations. In accordance with ACT-IAC principles, it operated in a collaborative and vendor-neutral manner that focused on improving government. The final report was a consensus document with recommendations that were unanimously supported by all members of the working group. The 73 page report was officially submitted to OMB on June 24, 2011.


Portfolio management key to federal financial systems, says ACT-IAC paper

Federal agencies should take a portfolio management approach to financial management system modernization in which components that make up the totality of financial systems operate together even while existing in different stages of their lifecycle.

The paper, publically released June 29, was prepared at the request of the Office of Management and Budget by a financial management working group of the Fairfax, Va.-based industry association.

Report authors say federal officials should replace a world view that views financial management as a "system" for one that views automated components and manual processes together as providing a "capability."

Capability can be provided through improvements to legacy systems, new systems, upgrades or other initiatives.

Utilization of a data fusion engine that synthesizes data from a variety of systems would permit an agency operating in such a hybrid environment to nonetheless have an unified view of its financial data, the report adds.

Effective portfolio management does require an organization to have a business enterprise architecture, knowledge of system component costs, in general, a strong governance process, the report says. It suggests using a balanced scorecard to inform decisions of which components should get modernization priority.

-David Perera, FierceGovernmentIT.com

Today's GAO Publications

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

Recovery Act: Funding Used for Transportation Infrastructure Projects, but Some Requirements Proved Challenging.
GAO-11-600, June 29.
Highlights - http://www.gao.gov/highlights/d11600high.pdf
Podcast available - http://www.gao.gov/podcast/watchdog_episode_63.html

Recovery Act: Funds Supported Many Water Projects, and Federal and State Monitoring Shows Few Compliance Problems.
GAO-11-608, June 29.
Highlights - http://www.gao.gov/highlights/d11608high.pdf
Podcast available - http://www.gao.gov/podcast/watchdog_episode_63.html

Department of Defense: Further Actions Needed to Institutionalize Key Business System Modernization Management Controls.
GAO-11-684, June 29.
Highlights - http://www.gao.gov/highlights/d11684high.pdf

"Maximizing DOD's Potential to Achieve Greater Efficiencies and Improve Business Operations," by Gene L. Dodaro, comptroller general of the United States, before the DOD Performance Symposium, in Lansdowne, Virginia.
GAO-11-799CG, June 29, 2011