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Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Auditors Say Feds Needlessly Wasted $43 Billion

Every year, tens of billions of tax dollars are lost to waste, fraud and abuse within the federal government. But much more could be lost if it wasn't for a team of federal watchdogs tasked with flagging any inefficiencies or wrongdoing within all government programs and projects.
That's according to the Special Council of the Inspectors General on Integrity and Efficiency (CIGIE)—the group in charge of overseeing the 15 presidentially appointed IG's. The group consistently reminds lawmakers of out how the auditors' work saves the federal government billions of dollars each year—despite their annual collective operating budget of over $1 billion. 
This year, CIGIE said that taken together, all of the auditors' recommendations this year would result in about $32 billion in savings, The Washington Examiner first reported. Recommendations typically include telling agencies to ramp up their oversight or come up with a new policy that will help them run more efficiently.
The investigations this year have already resulted in $11 billion that was returned to the Treasury
The IG's total operating budget for 2014 was about $1.6 billion, according to CIGIE's financial audit for 2014.
-Brianna Ehley, CNBC.com

Friday, December 26, 2014

What IT Budget Authority Really Means for CIOs

Federal CIOs got an early Christmas gift from Congress in 2014: explicit authority to plan and approve their department’s information technology budgets.
Under the Federal Information Technology Acquisition Reform Act (FITARA), which Congress passed as an amendment to the 2015 National Defense Authorization Act, CIOs are responsible for reviewing and approving department IT contracts. Department CIOs will also play a more direct role in the hiring of any bureau-level CIOs. The new law requires that department CIOs approve those appointments.
“I think this is going to be an interesting time in federal IT because, for the first time, we will see federal CIOs take ownership of the IT landscape in their agencies,” says General Services Administration (GSA) CIO and FedTech must-read IT blogger Sonny Hashmi.
FITARA applies to CIOs at civilian departments.
GSA was an early adopter of the consolidated IT approach, and Hashmi has experienced the benefits and challenges of having the agency’s IT under his authority.
He cautions against the bureaucracy that can bog down organizations with consolidated IT. They can become oversight driven, slow to respond and less innovative if they don’t strike the right balance, Hashmi says.
At GSA, Hashmi and his team are investing in transformative projects while reducing the amount of legacy systems. Most GSA systems are antiquated, and some are a quarter of a century old. While the systems run well, modernizing them would help reduce costs and make systems more flexible to meet emerging technology demands.
Federal Communications Commission CIO David Bray has similar challenges with legacy systems. Bray wants to find an easier way to port legacy systems to cloud-based providers.

-Nicole Blake Johnson, FedTechMagazine.com

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

FedScoop Exclusive: HHS to lead 2-year DATA Act pilot

The Digital Accountability and Transparency Act is in full swing, with the Office of Management and Budget and the Treasury Department catching headlines in their path to issue a governmentwide set of financial data standards by May 2015. But quietly in the background, the Department of Health and Human Services is gearing up to lead a two-year pilot of the DATA Act to test how data standardization in a complex federal ecosystem works.
Section 5 of the DATA Act — a mandate for financial data transparency in conjunction with USAspending.gov — requires OMB to launch a pilot, and the office chose HHS to test the waters of the act’s massive and complex data standardization efforts. Beginning next May, a year after the act was signed into law, HHS will be the test dummy for the grant portion of the DATA Act to help OMB, the Treasury and the federal government as a whole better understand things like “the impact of data standardization across many different lines of business” and “where there are opportunities to eliminate unnecessary duplication of financial reporting,” Amy Haseltine, director of DATA Act Program Management Office and chief DATA Act officer with HHS, explained to FedScoop.
This two-year pilot of the act is by no means a walk in the park, though all agencies are required by May 2017 to report their financial statements in accordance with the new standards. But Haseltine thinks HHS will benefit greatly from its work. 

-Billy Mitchell, FedScoop.com 

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

OMB to Alter Guidance for Reducing Improper Payments

Inspectors general are the “best friends” of program managers and the White House budget office when it comes to catching fraud and reducing agency improper payments, the deputy U.S. controller said on Wednesday.
Mark Reger, now in his third month as the No. 2 at the Office of Federal Financial Management, said his team is reworking  Circular A-123 guidance on controlling for financial integrity “to make it less prescriptive and to rely on the people on the ground,” particularly inspectors general.
Reger, a former Maryland State Treasury official, noted that the rate of bad payments has dropped steadily over the past four years, thanks in part to Congress’s enactment of the 2012 Credit Card Fraud Prevention Act and the 2012 Improper Payments Elimination and Recovery Act. “The most important tool is the education of agency enforcers in the field,” he said, praising the watchdogs for gathering better data, working together and sharing information. “I don’t know a single inspector general who isn’t thrilled to find additional money.”

The increasing use of data analytics has allowed progress in such areas as federal employee misuse of credit orthat it’s not okay to steal from federal government, it’s not sexy,” Reger said. purchasing cards, the deputy controller said. “The data is now generated back to the agencies every day,” he said. “Employees found to have committed fraud have had their cards cancelled, or been fired, or disciplined in some fashion.”
Coming changes to the financial controls circular will include requiring fewer reports and more-detailed categories of fraud, or “bucketing,” to distinguish, for example, between an unmerited payment and a claim lacking proper documentation, he said.
Reger urged IGs, program managers and vendors to report fraud to the Government Accountability Office’s fraud line at fraudnet@gao.net, and to peruse their own Medicare bills in search of bad charges.  “Please reinforce that it’s not okay to steal from federal government, it’s not sexy,” Reger said.
- Charles S. Clark, GovExec.com

DHS faces stiff acquisition, IT management challenges, IG says

The Department of Homeland Security is facing major challenges ensuring employee accountability, streamlining acquisitions and managing its IT projects, according to an annual report released Nov. 18 by the DHS inspector general.

The IG received over 29,000 complaints against DHS employees and opened more than 1,000 investigations — achieving 300 convictions and affecting 100 personnel action. DHS must quickly recognize poor performers and illegal acts and move to stop them, the IG said.

The agency also struggles with delivering its acquisitions on time and on budget with the right capabilities, according to the report. While DHS has made some efforts to better manage its acquisitions it needs to continually improve and assess its efforts, the IG said.

DHS should also work on other management issues, including:

  • Financial management: While the agency was able to obtain a clean financial audit for the second year in a row, it required considerable manual effort by the agency to overcome flaws in its financial IT systems, according to the IG. The agency needs to strengthen its financial management programs to eliminate these issues and make it easier to produce a clean audit.

  • Grants management: Most of the challenges in grant management rest with the Federal Emergency Management Administration, which did not properly spend and document about 23 percent of disaster-assistance grants.

  • Operations integration: The IG identified projects and programs shared between agencies that had weak levels of oversight, and that the agency does not have adequate systems to centrally track some of these shared programs. DHS spent more than $35.3 million on a fleet of cars shared between components that were underused, the IG said.

DHS agreed with many of the IG findings and said that many of the issues are being addressed by the agency-wide effort to coordinate and combine a diverse set of legacy agencies into one cohesive unit. The “Unity of Effort” initiative is building important bridges in DHS’ planning, programming and budgeting processes, according to Jim Crumpacker, the director of the departmental IG liaison office.

-Andy Medici, FederalTimes.com

Thursday, September 18, 2014

DHS management chief nominee's approach is data centric

As Russell Deyo sailed through his nomination hearing Wednesday to be the next undersecretary for management at the Homeland Security Department, his management approach and priorities centered on data.

The retired Johnson & Johnson executive told Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs lawmakers that getting DHS to have standard financial data will lead to better and more strategic decision making.

If confirmed, Deyo would replace Rafael Borras, who left in February after more than four years on the job.

DHS reached a milestone in 2013 when, for the first time ever, it received an unqualified opinion from auditors for its financial management processes.

Deyo said he recognizes that accomplishment and wants to make sure DHS doesn't slip back from there. 

At the same time, he said the next step toward better financial management has to happen sooner than later.

"The next big piece, as far as I can see so far, is we need to have a fully integrated financial management system across all the components. You have to have reliable information, so you can make smart budget decisions and have good analytics to make good strategic decisions. And having ledger sheets that don't match up, and you can't compare apples to apples across the groups, makes it very, very difficult to make informed, strategic decisions," Deyo said. "I think it's critical the agency have a long-term focus, and you can't do that if you don't have reliable data. So that is an existent high priority within the finance group and indeed the leadership of the department, and I strongly embrace that."

He said during his time at Johnson & Johnson, having a common financial system was essential in making strategic decisions.

DHS is heading down a path toward reducing the number of financial management systems used by the agency. Right now, there are 13 separate systems, but three components are moving to Interior's National Business Center, including the Transportation Security Administration and the Coast Guard.

-Jason Miller, FederalNewsRadio.com

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

IGs overburdened by congressional mandates, survey finds

Few agencies host blow-out conference extravaganzas. And few feds swipe their government charge cards when paying for personal stuff. But all federal inspectors general spend more of their time worrying about that sort of wrongdoing, thanks to new congressional mandates.

IGs say those must-do's are distracting them from enterprising work that could shed light on riskier agency behavior.

A new survey of 28 inspectors general by the Association of Government Accountants and Kearney & Company P.C. shows IGs are concerned about their effectiveness, as they balance work requirements against tight budgets and difficulties in getting needed information.

Along with the online survey, conducted in June, the researchers interviewed a mix of staff at federal IG offices. The researchers delved more deeply into problems uncovered in a similar survey done a year ago.

-Emily Kopp, FederalNewsRadio.com

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

GAO released the revised Green Book, standards to help agencies achieve goals and safeguard resources

Internal control helps an entity run its operations efficiently and effectively, report reliable information about its operations, and comply with applicable laws and regulations. The Standards for Internal Control in the Federal Government, known as the "Green Book," sets the standards for an effective internal control system for federal agencies.

2014 Green Book Overview 

2014 Green Book

Thursday, August 07, 2014

IGs warn of potential threats to all inspectors general

Inspectors general from 47 agencies are backing three fellow auditors from the Justice Department, the Environmental Protection Agency and the Peace Corps over what they say are limits on access to information put on them by agency senior officials.

In a letter to the leaders of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee and the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, the IGs say auditors from those three agencies recently faced restrictions on their access to certain records.

"In each of these instances, we understand that lawyers in these agencies construed other statutes and law applicable to privilege in a manner that would override the express authorization contained in the IG Act," the IGs wrote. "These restrictive readings of the IG Act represent potentially serious challenges to the authority of every Inspector General and our ability to conduct our work thoroughly, independently, and in a timely manner."

In the letter to the oversight committees, the IGs detail their concerns for each of the three agencies.

The IGs asked for members of Congress to provide a strong reaffirmation of the powers granted them under the IG Act.

Sen. Charles Grassley (R-Iowa) released the letter as part of his long-standing support of IG independence.

Congress has sought to empower IGs even more over the last few years. Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) is drafting a bill to give small agency auditors more power.

At a hearing January before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, three agency IGs &mash; Justice, Peace Corps and the Small Business Administration — told lawmakers that slashed budgets and dwindling staff sizes are hindering their ability to conduct robust oversight.

Additionally, the Council of the Inspectors General on Integrity and Efficiency (CIGIE) wants Congress to give IGs more authority to use computer matching programs to root out waste, fraud and abuse.

IGs as a group last received a boost in 2008 when Congress passed and then- President George W. Bush signed into law the Inspectors General Reform Act.

-Jason Miller, FederalNewsRadio.com

Monday, August 04, 2014

Massive inconsistencies continue to affect USASpending.gov data

Agencies have not been properly reporting their grants and loans to USASpending.gov, according to the Government Accountability Office. A probe of data on the website found that only 2-to-7 percent of awards listed were entirely consistent when checked against agencies records.

"Although agencies generally reported information for contracts to USASpending.gov, they did not properly report information on assistance awards, totaling nearly $619 billion," GAO said in its report it released Friday.

GAO said the most common data inconsistency were descriptions of an award's place of performance. The names of recipients are the most consistent between records and online. GAO could not determine how consistent other award records were because agencies' records were incomplete or inadequate.

The report said 10 percent of awards information could not be verified and a significant amount of information could not be verified about program source information and the state of performance.

Among the inconsistencies, GAO found that some online awards records did not have verifiable data from their issuing agencies. The Office of Management and Budget placed requirements on agencies to ensure their data has substantiated information and verifying documents, but GAO said the standards have not been effective.

Federal funding of the improperly reported awards totaled $619 billion. GAO recommended OMB issue guidance clarifying agencies' reporting requirements.

It also wants agencies to keep better records to verify information on USASpending.gov and wants an oversight process to regularly check consistency between the records.

GAO's report is not the first time USASpending.gov has come under fire. In 2013, OMB gave agencies a November 2014 deadline to assure that all information on the site is accurate.

- Ariel Levin-Waldman, FederalNewsRadio.com

Friday, August 01, 2014

DOT Official Brodi Fontenot Nominated as Treasury Dept CFO

Brodi Fontenot, currently a Transportation Department official, has received a presidential nomination to serve as the Treasury Department‘s next chief financial officer, the White House announced Thursday.

Fontenot’s roles at DOT include assistant secretary for administration, chief human capital officer and senior sustainability officer.

He joined that agency in 2009 as deputy assistant secretary of management and budget after serving on the Senate Budget Committee’s staff for three years.

Between 2001 and 2006, he worked as a Government Accountability Office analyst and helped the agency with budgeting, disaster assistance and housing matters.

He holds a master of public administration degree from the University of North Carolina and a bachelor’s degree from the University of Houston.

-Mary-Louise Hoffman, ExecutiveGov.com

Monday, July 21, 2014

Treasury Dept IT System Flagged for Security Issues

Serious tech troubles at the Treasury Department are so severe that they could disrupt accounting practices within a system that manages about $16.7 billion of federal debt.

The Government Accountability Office flagged at least 20 problems within the Bureau of the Fiscal Service’s tech system—all of which involve security management issues. Of the deficiencies GAO identified, 14 are brand new and six are problems that were detected in 2012 and were never corrected.
The auditors said the issues constitute a "significant deficiency" for financial reporting purposes. 

The weaknesses "increase the risk of unauthorized access, modification or disclosure of sensitive data and programs, which could result in the disruption of critical operations," Gary Engel, GAO director for financial management and assurance, wrote in an audit last week, NextGov first reported.
The Fiscal Service commissioner addressed the auditor’s findings and said the agency is currently taking actions to resolve the issues.
-Brianna Ehley, TheFiscalTimes.com

The Federal Government Is Shrinking—Literally

The federal government is shrinking—by 10.2 million square feet, to be precise. That’s how much agency office and warehouse space was cut in 2013 under President Obama’s management initiative know as “Freezing the Federal Footprint,” according to the White House.
Beth Cobert, deputy director for management at the Office of Management and Budget, announced the number on Thursday following an inventory at 24 agencies with chief financial officers that revealed “significant progress toward implementing” the three-year plans to reduce spending that then-Controller Danny Werfel called for in March 2013.

-Charles S. Clark, GovExec.com

Wednesday, July 09, 2014


Macfadden & Associates, Inc. (Macfadden) will be hosting a panel presentation at the Association of Government Accountants’ 2014 Professional Development Training in Orlando, Florida. The panel presentation, titled “Shared Services Migration – Perspectives from the Department of Homeland Security’s Progression toward Financial Shared Services Solutions,” will take place on Tuesday, July 15 – Day 3 of the conference, and will feature three members of the Department of Homeland Security’s executive leadership and a director from the Department of Treasury.

Macfadden’s panel is comprised of four speakers:
  1. Elizabeth Angerman, Director at Office of Financial Innovation and Transformation, Department of the Treasury
  2. Jeffrey Bobich, Director of Financial Management, Department of Homeland Security
  3. Captain Mark Rose, USCG Ret., Director of Financial Operations/Comptroller, U.S. Coast Guard
  4. George Asseng, Director of Financial Management, Transportation Security Administration

The panel will be moderated by Doug Davidson, Director of Financial Services at Macfadden.

This panel intends to provide perspectives and insights from DHS entities proceeding toward various shared service solutions. Discussion will include lessons learned through the planning, selection, and due diligence phases of shared services migration. This session will provide the audience with real-world and current experiences from agency implementations in progress.

The annual ADA PDT brings together the top officials in federal, state and local government, as well as from academia and the private sector, for three-and-a-half days of valuable training and networking. Attendees can earn up to 24 Continuing Professional Education (CPE) hours.

This is Macfadden’s first year hosting a panel, as well as its first year as a member of the AGA’s Corporate Partner Advisory Group.

Macfadden is an employee-owned, ISO 9001:2008 certified, international professional services corporation that applies integrated information technology solutions and program/project management expertise to help solve critical issues impacting the health, safety and security of the world around us.

Government made $100B in improper payments

WASHINGTON (AP) -- By its own estimate, the government made about $100 billion in payments last year to people who may not have been entitled to receive them -- tax credits to families that didn't qualify, unemployment benefits to people who had jobs and medical payments for treatments that might not have been necessary.

Congressional investigators say the figure could be even higher.

The Obama administration has reduced the amount of improper payments since they peaked in 2010. Still, estimates from federal agencies show that some are wasting big money at a time when Congress is squeezing agency budgets and looking to save more.

Some improper payments are the result of fraud, while others are unintentional, caused by clerical errors or mistakes in awarding benefits without proper verification.

In 2013, federal agencies made $97 billion in overpayments, according to agency estimates. Underpayments totaled $9 billion.

The amount of improper payments has steadily dropped since 2010, when it peaked at $121 billion.

The Obama administration has stepped up efforts to measure improper payments, identify the cause and develop plans to reduce them, said Beth Cobert, deputy director of the White House budget office. 

Agencies recovered more than $22 billion in overpayments last year.

-Stephen Ohlemacher, Associated Press/FederalNewsRadio.com

Thursday, July 03, 2014

Shared service providers preparing for more, bigger agencies

Existing financial shared service providers will implement improvement plans starting this month to expand their capabilities and take on more customers.

The federal shared service providers (FSSP) improvement plan will expand the capability and capacity of providers to accommodate more and larger agencies, according to updated goals on Performance.gov.

This is just one step toward the Obama administration's cross-agency goal of expanding agency use of shared services and establishing clear guidance and evaluation for providers.

The Office of Management and Budget and the Department of the Treasury also plan to establish governmentwide principles for shared services governance by the end of August. There were no details on what the guidelines would include, but the report stated individual FSSPs and customers would implement their own principles to tailor to the broader regulations.

The guidelines would aid OMB and Treasury as they plan to expand their focus to the Human Resources Shared Services initiative and start the second rollout of those shared services in December.

OMB and Treasury already have succeeded in meeting past goals around financial management. The Performance.gov update stated they have reviewed financial management SSPs, established a governance group of CFOs and providers and sought input from industry on ways to avoid duplication within agency administration.

Now the Obama administration is monitoring agency transitions to shared services providers. Agency executive councils will finalize performance metrics and customer satisfaction surveys by November.
With these metrics, the administration will look at the number of migrations to shared services providers, the percentage of transitioned departments, customer satisfaction and the number of new services offered by providers. OMB and Treasury have not set target numbers for these metrics, but the report stated the two agencies will collect measures and surveys annually.

OMB and Treasury also outlined other goals in the report including the financial management agency advisory group would review their expansion in shared services to provide recommendations for further growth. The administration also plans to formally recognize OMB and Treasury as overseers for the shared services marketplace.

-Stephanie Wasko, FederalNewsRadio.com

OMB and GSA developing unified measures to cut down on costs

The Office of Management Budget and the General Services Administration have created a plan to gather data and make progress toward cutting unnecessary spending and inefficiency.

Currently, OMB and GSA have trouble analyzing the efficiency of government agencies, something that makes agency cooperation difficult, according to a White House report released June 30.

OMB and GSA will create a unified data set from all agencies.

The plan revolves around agencies setting performance benchmarks, which the report expects to be completed by the end of July. The benchmarks, then, are assessed by OMB and GSA, which will compare the practices used by the most efficient agencies and share them with the others. Leadership teams from agencies then will meet with OMB and GSA to share their findings.

OMB and GSA are looking for efficiency indicators, measured in cost savings or reduced square footage of federal property, which can be traced back to benchmark related actions. OMB and GSA also are looking for increased service quality and shared services adoption among agencies.

Based on the findings, finance, human resources and IT working groups will come up with an action and implementation plan, which interagency management councils will analyze for effective strategies that could be shared. This all comprises the first phase of the plan. The second phase uses the results of the first to create a standard plan and metrics.

The benchmarks policy set by OMB and GSA is the latest in a series of actions implemented by the Obama administration to decrease waste, fraud and abuse. Since 2009, the administration has been trying to reform real estate policies and improper payments.

Under the Freeze the Footprint initiative, OMB required agencies to submit three-year Revised Real Property Cost Savings and Innovation Plans to more narrowly focus on how they can maintain their real estate footprint and include a prospective analysis of spending.

In 2010, agencies paid $125 billion in improper payments, whether by contractor fraud or paying more than $1 billion to dead people.

Congress passed a law requiring Treasury to create a "do not pay" list of fraudulent contractors and a tool to let death certificate data be shared more easily among agencies.

The improper payment rate has dropped to 3.54 percent in 2013 from 5.42 percent in 2009.

The Obama administration has set new cross-agency priority goals for managing government as part of its 2015 budget. Federal News Radio examines the eight areas identified by the White House in our special section 2014 Cross Agency Priority Goals.

-Ariel Levin-Waldmen, FederalNewsRadio.com

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Senate lawmakers to extend greater power to CIOs

Senate lawmakers will propose major changes to how federal chief information officers oversee IT investments, including giving them full budget authority and approval over all IT contracts.

In their version of the Federal IT Acquisition Reform Act (FITARA), Sens. Tom Carper (D-Del.) and Tom Coburn (R-Okla.), chairman and ranking member of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, respectively, will offer an amendment in the nature of a substitute for the House's version of FITARA at a committee markup Wednesday.

In documents obtained by Federal News Radio, the Senate's draft version of FITARA would require "the director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) to require in its annual IT capital planning guidance that the CIO of the agency (I) approve the agency's information technology budget request; (II) certify that IT investments are implementing incremental development as defined by OMB; and (III) work with the Chief Human Capital Officer to review all IT positions requested in the budget to ensure the needs of the agency are being met."

Additionally, the draft bill would give CIOs power to review and approve IT contracts or other agreements for technology products or services, and sanction any request to reprogram funds for IT.
The Senate's draft version, however, doesn't follow the House's lead in requiring only one person with the title CIO. But it does give the agency CIO the right to "approve the appointment of any other employee with the title of Chief Information Officer at the agency, or who functions in the capacity of Chief Information Offer, for any component organization within the agency."

The House passed its version of FITARA in May as part of the Defense Authorization bill.

-Jason Miller, FederalNewsRadio.com

Friday, May 30, 2014

Outdated DHS Financial Systems May Be Inhibiting Internal IT Controls, OIG Audit Says

In recent years, said a new Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Office of Inspector General (OIG) IT management report for the Fiscal Year 2013 DHS financial statement audit, “DHS’s financial system functionality may be inhibiting the agency’s ability to implement and maintain internal controls, notably IT applications controls supporting financial data processing and reporting at some components.”

“At most components,” OIG report, “the financial systems have not been substantially updated since being inherited from legacy agencies several years ago. Therefore, in FY 2013, we continued to evaluate and consider the impact of financial system functionality over financial reporting.”

In FY 2013, a total of 103 findings were issued, of which approximately 69 percent are repeated from last year.

According to the audit, approximately 35 percent of repeat findings were for IT deficiencies that management represented were corrected during FY 2013. The new findings in FY 2013 resulted both from additional IT systems and business processes within the scope of the audit this year and from control deficiencies identified in areas which were effective in previous years, and were noted at all DHS components.

Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center (FLETC) had the greatest number of new findings.

OIG reported that “many key DHS financial systems are not compliant with the financial management systems requirements of the Federal Financial Management Improvement Act of 1996 and Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Circular Number A-127, Financial Management Systems, revised. DHS financial system functionality limitations add substantially to the department’s challenges of addressing systemic internal control weaknesses and limit the department’s ability to leverage IT systems to effectively and efficiently process and report financial data.”

With respect to DHS and its components’ financial systems’ IT controls, the audit “noted certain matters in the areas of security management, access controls, configuration management, segregation of duties and contingency planning.”

During the audit, “certain matters involving financial reporting internal controls (comments not related to IT) and other operational matters, including certain deficiencies in internal control” were discovered that are considered “to be significant deficiencies and material weaknesses,” and were communicated in writing to management and those charged with governance in KPMG’s Independent Auditors’ Report and in a separate letter to the Office of Inspector General and the DHS Chief Financial Officer.

-Anthony Kimery, HStoday.us

Treasury's Gregg to retire after 41 years in federal financial management

A long-time stalwart in the federal financial community decided to call it a career after 41 years in government.

The Treasury Department announced May 27 that Fiscal Assistant Secretary Richard Gregg is retiring at the end of June. Treasury said Dave Lebryk, currently the commissioner of the Bureau of the Fiscal Service, will take over for Gregg, and Sheryl Morrow, currently deputy assistant secretary for Fiscal Operations and Policy at Treasury, will succeed Lebryk as commissioner. The changes will be official as of June 30.

During his career, Gregg worked under 16 different Treasury secretaries and served for 10 years as the commissioner of the Bureau of the Public Debt.

Most recently, Gregg oversaw efforts to move Treasury into the electronic world. He led initiative for Treasury to stop issuing paper checks in 2013.

Gregg also was a big proponent of shared services for financial management. He played a key role in reinvigorating the program, which recently named new federal providers.

Over the course of the last few years, Lebryk has worked closely with Gregg on many priorities.
Lebryk has been with Treasury for more than 25 years, serving in several senior leadership positions, including the deputy assistant secretary for Fiscal Operations and Policy, and deputy director and acting Director of the Mint.

Morrow, who has more than 34 years with Treasury, will continue to unify the government's fiscal and debt operations under one central vision and leadership under the recently merged Fiscal Service. During her career, she held numerous positions assistant commissioner for payment management and chief disbursing officer at the Financial Management Service.

- Jason Miller, FederalNewsRadio.com

Friday, May 23, 2014

Who is Shaun Donovan?

Shaun Donovan has served in President Barack Obama's cabinet almost since day one, as secretary of the Department of Housing and Urban Development.
The man tapped May 22 to head the Office of Management and Budget has not had a very high profile compared with other department heads, but he has developed a reputation in the administration as a fixer on high-priority tasks.
While leading HUD, Donovan's work has included chairing the Hurricane Sandy Rebuilding Task Force and co-leading the cross-agency priority goal of reducing the number of homeless veterans.
If confirmed by the Senate, Donovan will succeed OMB director Sylvia Matthews Burwell, who was nominated to take over as secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services.

-Adam Mazmanian, FCW.com

Performance management and the DATA act

May 23, 2014 -- Jon Desenberg of the Performance Institute, Bethany Blakey of the Performance Improvement Council, and Hudson Hollister of the Data Transparency Coalition, join FEDtalk this week to discuss federal performance management.

They will also cover changes mandated by the DATA Act, and implications of the DATA Act for performance management.


Thursday, May 22, 2014

Treasury official calls for quick Data Act demos

The three-year schedule to implement the Digital Accountability and Transparency Act, a measure that puts federal financial data on a single, machine-readable standard and requires its publication to the public online, might be too ambitious, said Dick Gregg, fiscal assistant secretary of the Treasury and the executive in charge of implementing the law.

"It will be difficult and maybe impossible in some areas to hit all the timelines," Gregg said on May 20 at the Federal Financial Management Conference in Washington, D.C., before an audience of government accountants and financial managers who will be on the front lines of implementing the changes required under the Data Act.
The challenge is for Treasury and the Office of Management and Budget to come up with a standard for publishing financial data, then convert federal financial management systems to that standard. There was no money included in the law to finance the effort, but agencies will surely need some resources to implement changes.
"I'm not sure what the approach of OMB will be when agencies make requests," Gregg said. "There will be some costs. It's important to work together to figure out how to minimize the cost of doing this." One way is to leverage gains made in the Treasury's own internal goal of improving financial transparency through the management of the USASpending.gov website, which recently moved to Treasury from OMB as part of the fiscal 2014 budget.
The shift to a federal-first approach to agency financial management could help streamline the process, Gregg pointed out. "Shared services is a force multiplier," Gregg said, because consolidation of financial management at the four providers means that agencies will be able to outsource some of their compliance. "The sooner we can move more agencies into shared services, the easier it's going to be for them to implement the Data Act," Gregg said.
The financial management community will reap the benefits as well, Gregg said. The new emphasis on standardization means that chief financial officers can shift from systems implementation and operation to the more interesting and rewarding work of managing programs.
-Adam Mazmanian, FCW.com

DoD names Tillotson assistant deputy chief management officer

The Pentagon this week named Dave Tillotson the assistant deputy chief management officer, a key role that's been vacant since the retirement of Dave Wennergren last August.

Tillotson officially takes the job next Tuesday, and will also serve as the department's acting deputy chief management officer, according to a memo from deputy defense secretary Bob Work, which was obtained by Federal News Radio.

Tillotson currently serves as the Air Force's deputy chief management officer and director for business transformation.

-Jared Serbu, FederalNewsRadio.com

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Col. Patrick Burden takes the Army's financial ERP into a new phase

As project manager, Col. Patrick Burden oversees the operations of one of the military’s largest enterprise resource planning (ERP) programs, the General Fund Enterprise Business System. Designed to help the Army track finances, assets and accounting, the $1.8 billion program represents a significant step forward for Defense Department ERPs, particularly as the Pentagon drives toward audit-readiness. 

In a recent interview with Federal Times Senior Writer Amber Corrin, Col. Burden outlined GFEBS’ top goals, its evolution over time and where the program is headed as part of broader DoD financial management reform.


Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Whistleblower hotlines changing the way IGs respond to waste, fraud and abuse

As recently as a year ago, if a lower-priority report of waste, fraud or abuse arrived via the Defense Department's inspector general hotline, it could potentially sit in a processing queue for several months before receiving attention from investigators. But as of this March, the backlog is entirely gone, and even "priority three" cases are handled well within 30 days.

The department of Health and Human Services, which runs another of the government's busiest IG hotlines, has a similar story. A few years ago, the average processing time for incoming complaints was approximately six months. Today it's inside 30 days.

Federal officials who spoke to Federal News Radio as part of our special report, Trust Redefined: Reconnecting Government and Its Employees , said agencies, large and small, across government are improving their hotline programs, partially by embracing new technologies and partially through simple business process improvements — moving cases through the system more quickly and, in turn, more effectively meeting their core mission of allowing federal employees and members of the public to blow the whistle on fraud and threats to life and safety.

-Jared Serbu, FederalNewsRadio.com

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Air Force's progress raises DoD's confidence toward audit readiness

Air Force officials say the service is making up the most ground of any of the military services as part of the push to finally get the Defense Department to successfully close its financial books.

But government auditors say this entire Pentagon effort is at risk because of shortcomings in the services' technology systems.

Jamie Morin, the assistant secretary of the Air Force for financial management and comptroller, said he is more optimistic than ever before because the service put money and people behind the problem.

Morin said during a hearing Tuesday before the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee that there is an increased likelihood that the Air Force will meet the 2017 deadline to have its financial statements fully auditable and the September deadline of being able to assert audit readiness for its schedule of budgetary activity.

This is a major change since last October when Morin told Senate Armed Services Committee members that the Air Force would struggle to meet the 2014 deadline, and 2017 wasn't going to be any easier.
But over the last six months, the Air Force has accomplished specific tasks one- by-one to meet the congressionally mandated deadlines.

Each of the services and DoD on the whole remain at different points in the process to achieve audit readiness. DoD is the only federal department that can't successfully account for its spending to meet third-party auditors requirements. The Marines Corps in fiscal 2012 received an unqualified opinion on its schedule of budgetary activity (SBA) — the first DoD service ever to receive that result.

Robert Hale, the out-going DoD comptroller, said he expects the Marines Corps to earn the same result for 2013.

While each of the services is at different points, the one common major challenge the Army, Navy, Air Force and the Office of the Secretary of Defense all face is updating and integrating their technology software, specifically the enterprise resources planning (ERP) systems, to meet the audit readiness requirements.

Take the Air Force as one example. It's still using a system from 1968.

Morin said the Defense Enterprise Accounting Management System (DEAMS), is under development to replace that 40-year-old system.

He said the service received a positive assessment from the Air Force Operational Test and Evaluation Center on DEAMS as currently deployed at more than six bases.

The Air Force plans to complete DEAMS deployment to all Air Mobility Command in the next couple of weeks and then more bases by Oct. 1. Morin said the Air Force also is on track to complete deployment Air Force-wide before the full financial statement audits begin.

The Army, on the other hand, is in better shape.

Robert Speer, the Army's acting assistant secretary for financial management and comptroller, said the general fund enterprise business system (GFEBs) is used by 53,000 service members and civilians at 200 locations worldwide.

Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.), the ranking member of the committee, said in no uncertain terms if the ERPs don't work, this effort is in real trouble. Coburn has asked both the IG and GAO to continue looking at DoD's ERP efforts.

-Jason Miller, FederalNewsRadio.com

Monday, May 12, 2014

Improving Financial Systems through Shared Services, OFIT Industry Day May 21st

Solicitation Number: RFI-FIT-14-0055
Agency: Department of the Treasury
Office: Bureau of the Public Debt (BPD)
Location: Bureau of the Fiscal Service

MB Memorandum M-13-08 directed all executive agencies to use, with limited exceptions, a shared service solution for future modernizations of core accounting or mixed systems. In implementing this policy, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) is following a guiding principle of "Federal First" whereby executive agencies must consider one of the Federal Shared Services Providers (FSSP) designated by the Department of the Treasury (Treasury) as eligible to provide financial management shared services to other executive agencies.

On May 2, 2014, OMB and the U.S. Department of the Treasury designated four agencies as FSSPs. They are Department of Agriculture's National Finance Center; the Department of the Interior's, Interior Business Center, the Department of Transportation's Enterprise Services Center, and Treasury's Administrative Resource Center.
A copy of OMB M-13-08, "Improving Financial Systems through Shared Services," is located at: http://www.whitehouse.gov/sites/default/files/omb/memoranda/2013/m-13-08.pdf .

The Division of Procurement Services, on behalf of the Financial Innovation and Transformation (FIT), is conducting market research in the form of this RFI and an Industry Day event scheduled on May 21, 2014
The Government will hold an Industry Day event on May 21, 2014, starting at 8:15 a.m. ET, with sign-in starting at 7:45 a.m. ET at GSA Central Auditorium located at 1800 F Street, NW, Washington, DC 20006. There will be a general session followed by question/answer session. The general session will include background information on the implementation of OMB M-13-08, FIT's role in the implementation, current plan and associated challenges. Following the general session, each FSSP will provide background on their organization, current platform and customers, challenges, current contracting vehicles and potential needs/desires to improve financial management services offerings. 

Friday, May 09, 2014

Treasury begins shared services quest to educate, integrate

The Treasury Department's Office of Financial Innovation and Transformation is starting to put the bigger pieces of the shared services puzzle in place.

It started by approving four shared service providers — one new one and three current providers — on May 2. Now OFIT is on an education and data quest.

The office issued two requests for information to industry in the past few weeks, including one to begin telling industry about the role contractors will play in this governmentwide initiative.

One RFI , issued May 7, announced an industry day on May 21 where all four shared service providers — the departments of Agriculture, Interior, Transportation and Treasury — will present current capabilities and those they would like to have in the future.

OFIT also wants to gather market research on private sector solutions and capabilities that could be of assistance to OFIT (in its oversight role), the FSSPs (in their service provider role) and customers or prospective customers) in 11 different areas, including optimizing shared services, assisting in customer migrations and identifying alternative contract approaches such as share-in- savings or public-private partnerships.

Then on May 22, OFIT will host an agency day so potential customer agencies can learn about the shared services offerings and ask questions about the initiative.

The second RFI is focused on data management.

The April 18 RFI asks vendors for insights into "the development and implementation of a shared data transfer capability (e.g., enterprise bus) to facilitate the interaction and communication between mutually interacting software applications. Software applications may include financial systems, procurement systems, e-invoicing systems, inventory systems, or other mixed systems. These software applications may or may not be owned and operated by the federal government."

Responses to the RFI are due May 16.

The RFIs are more pieces to this financial management shared services puzzle.

Treasury, which is leading this administration effort, is trying to get data and information out to the agencies so they really get what's expected of them and what they can expect.

At the conference, audience members sought answers about how the initiative works, and the RFIs and several other document or data releases over the next two weeks are part of those answers.
Angerman says the OFIT will post those documents on its website.

-Jason Miller, FederalNewsRadio.com