DHS financial overhaul moving ahead

The Homeland Security Department plans to release a solicitation in May to build an integrated financial system for use departmentwide.

DHS wants to award a contract for the Electronically Managing Enterprise Resources for Government Effectiveness and Efficiency project in July, said Catherine Y. Santana, director of the department's Resource Management Transformation Office, which is overseeing the Emerge2 program.

"DHS has been set on a pedestal," Santana said Tuesday at an Emerge2 industry day. "We intend to become the model" for federal financial management programs.

The Emerge2 project will include virtually all financial operations: budget and cost management, funds control, general ledger, accounts payable and receivable, travel and acquisition. It will not, however, incorporate the department's personnel systems.

Santana said her team has already determined that no single product can meet all the Emerge2 project needs, so officials expect a team of contractors to offer a proposal combining several products.

Chief procurement officer Greg Rothwell said the Emerge2 system will cover the acquisition process from the planning stages of a DHS purchase, through drafting of contract documents, award and administration.

Don Bathhurst, the department's chief administrative officer, added that Emerge2 would let the department conduct asset management operations, such as tracking DHS' land, buildings, computers, aircraft and other property. "We need to know where it is, where it came from and what we are going to do with it," he said.

DHS officials who spoke at the meeting emphasized that Emerge2 would be part of the department's enterprise architecture and is a tough project that must be done well quickly.

"One of the first and highest priorities for us is to merge the department's 40 general ledgers, 30 procurement systems and 20 approaches to travel costs," said Janet Hale, undersecretary for management. "We want it to be on an aggressive schedule."

The department has to get it right the first time, because "we don't have time to do it again," CIO Steve Cooper said.

Wilson P. Dizard III writes for Government Computer News magazine.

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