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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