DOD says business modernization project reviews are coming

Defense Department officials Wednesday promised lawmakers that every business system improvement project worth more than $1 million would be reviewed by the undersecretary of Defense for acquisition, technology and logistics.

Thomas Modly, deputy undersecretary for Defense financial management, testified before the House Government Reform Subcommittee on Government Management, Finance and Accountability that DOD now has the infrastructure in place to perform the reviews and is building a repository to track the projects.

The department is under pressure from Congress after repeated problems with its Business Management Modernization Program.

"We didn't have the infrastructure to discover the systems and then how to report them," Modly told the subcommittee. "Now we have a standard set of questions and a standard way to determine whether the programs should be funded. We will do much better."

Paul Brinkley, special assistant to the undersecretary of Defense, acquisition, technology and logistics for business transformation, said DOD is developing an automated tool to determine who obligated the money for the systems and that his office will hold them accountable.

"We set firm dates for an inventory to be finished," he said, but didn't expound on when the inventory would be completed.

Brinkley must push for improvement, otherwise Congress could fine him $5,000 and put him jail if violations occur. Lawmakers included a provision in the Anti-Deficiency Act for the fiscal 2005 Defense authorization that says for every instance DOD does not review spending of $1 million or more to ensure systems comply with its Business Enterprise Architecture, the manager of the program could be fined and/or jailed.

This has been a major problem for DOD for at least the last two years. The Government Accountability Office found DOD continually spent money on 50 programs worth $651 million without prior review by the office in charge of BMMP. In 2003 and 2004 the comptroller was spearheading the program.

"The Anti-Deficiency Act puts teeth [into enforcement], but DOD has had a lot of issues over the years," said Gregory Kutz, GAO's director of financial management and assurance. "We do a lot of work looking at fraud, waste and abuse where no one is held accountable, and that is an issue with this program."

Brinkley said the Anti-Deficiency Act provision is a motivating factor to get the systems reviewed.

Brinkley also promised lawmakers that Version 3 of the BEA and a detailed transition plan are in final development. DOD will submit both documents to Congress by Sept. 30, as required by law.

He said the transition plan "provides actionable milestones for the achievement of the content within the DOD BEA 3.0. Specifically, each material data standard, financial accounting structure, business rule, human resource management system?all elements of the DOD-level BEA?will have a corresponding implementation schedule for compliance by all tiers of the department."

"BMMP has made slow?though steady?progress, earning its share of criticism along the way," said Todd Platts, subcommittee chairman. "We want to make sure errors are corrected and we are learning from the mistakes."

Jason Miller is an assistant managing editor of Washington Technology's sister publication, Government Computer News.

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