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 goverment wide 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.
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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.

Financial Accountability at the DoD: Reviewing the Bidding

The Chief Financial Officers (CFO) Act of 1990 requires the DoD to produce private sector-style financial statements that can win unqualified opinions from auditors. After many years of effort to comply, the department is now projecting that its balance sheets will not be ready until 2017 and is unable to predict when its income statements will be ready. Given that discouraging situation, combined with the increasingly widespread realization that external financial statements are of no practical use for internal management, the question arises whether it makes sense for the DoD to continue its pursuit of “CFO compliance.”

-Christopher Hanks

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Changes coming to federal financial management

The Financial Systems Integration Office, the federal office that manages the Financial Management Line of Business, will stop testing and certifying federal financial systems on March 31.

In a letter posted to the Office of Management and Budget website March 16 OMB controller Danny Werfel said OMB will “develop the new path for financial systems in the Federal government.”

With a planned March 31 update to core financial systems requirements, “we believe that FISO has finished developing FMLoB business process and data standards as it related to its mission,” Werfel wrote. “In response to these challenges, we have reassessed the need for the core financial systems testing and product certification program and will be discontinuing this function,” he added.

The FMLoB has been an effort to consolidate financial systems within the government, with four federal agencies and private sector organizations acting as centralized service centers to other agencies.What-is-Financial-Management-Meaning-Definition-Scope

For example, the Interior Department’s National Business Center hosts financial systems and business operations for external executive branch organizations, and a few legislative branch organizations.

OMB and COFAR Offer Webinar: Uniform Grant Guidance Training—Supercircular

January 27, 2014
Webinar
The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) and the Council on Financial Assistance Reform (COFAR) will conduct a full-day webinar on the major grant reform “Supercircular” on Monday, January 27. The guidance, which was published as a final rule on December 26, 2013 deals with Uniform Administrative Requirements, Cost Principles, and Audit Requirements for Federal Awards. Register here for the webinar and to get on a mailing list for future announcements and training on the “Superciruclar.” The webinar will be conducted from 9 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.

This is an opportunity for AGA members to not only get their questions answered, but contribute to the body of knowledge that will be developed, through an official Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) document that OMB is developing to assist with implementation.

Questions should be submitted to cofar@omb.eop.gov.

https://cfo.gov/cofar

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.

http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-11-581
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.

http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-11-577R

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.
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-11-842T
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.
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-11-864T
Highlights – http://www.gao.gov/highlights/d11864thigh.pdf

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
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OMB wants better, faster, cheaper financial data

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

-Jason Miller, WFED
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AGA Releases Executive Report: 2013 Federal Financial Systems Summit Summary

Nearly 500 government financial leaders gathered at AGA’s Federal Financial Systems Summit (FSS) in Washington, DC to learn about and discuss the near-term and future prospects of federal financial management and systems in a budget constrained environment.  AGA released its Executive Report on the summit sessions on their website recently.

Download the Report Here…