Running a federal financial system often a juggling act

An industry task force advising the White House on financial system modernization programs at federal agencies recommended a sustainment strategy that combines ongoing management with a clear view of the long-term business architecture, according to the group's report.

At the request of Daniel Werfel, controller for the White House’s Office of Federal Financial Management, the American Council for Technology’s Industry Advisory Council (ACT-IAC) made recommendations on sustainability of the management gains made in the recent overhaul of about 30 federal financial systems modernizations programs.

The White House’s Office of Management and Budget froze the projects in June 2010 to undergo review. Subsequently, the programs were canceled or restructured and are now moving forward, Werfel said.


RELATED STORIES:

OMB puts brakes on financial system modernizations 

DHS cancels $450M financial system modernization, considers cloud instead


The ACT-IAC Financial Management Working Group was chaired by Anne Reed, CEO of ASI Government Inc., and Andrew McLauchlin, executive director of the CGI Initiative for Collaborative Government. The working group delivered its 73-page report to OMB June 24. Highlights of the report were presented at a meeting with Werfel June 29.

“The overall objective of this strategy is to reduce the risks of new investments in federal financial systems, improve the timeliness of system development and upgrade initiatives, and enhance the accuracy and effectiveness of federal financial management activities,” ACT-IAC said in a news release.

“As a former senior government executive with experience in both IT and financial management, I know the complexities associated with acquiring and implementing financial management information systems,” Reed said. “We are delighted to present OMB with a set of unanimous recommendations that we believe can have a real impact.”

Among the issues that OMB asked to be addressed are how to best manage hybrid systems in which some parts of the systems are modernized and other parts are legacy systems, and how to set criteria for determining whether to make incremental investments in existing systems or larger investments in modernization initiatives.

Having new systems “under construction” should not be an excuse for poor performance of existing systems, Werfel said. “You still have a responsibility to get the most of your existing systems.” And with budget constraints, federal agencies may need to “leverage their existing systems longer,” he added.

In their report, ACT-IAC executives made four recommendations:

  • Leverage portfolio management to address agency needs and clearly define the long-range business architecture.
  • Employ standard “decision criteria” to determine the viability of an existing system.
  • Increase communication among executive leadership, agency program managers and the vendor community, and create a new management role for the active management and analysis of emerging requirements.
  • Continually assess new technologies, deployment methods and business models to improve the federal financial management processes.

Werfel said ACT-IAC’s recommendations will be reviewed by the CFO Council and the federal Financial Systems Advisory Board.

He praised the industry group’s feedback as being a valuable tool for helping to manage the financial system modernizations on an ongoing basis.

“This is very helpful,” Werfel said. “I consider this a very important data point. I gave them my most vexing policy questions.”

About the Author

Alice Lipowicz is a staff writer covering government 2.0, homeland security and other IT policies for Federal Computer Week.

Reader Comments

Fri, Jul 1, 2011

Here's an idea- how about standardizing the financial systems at least cabinet-department wide, and preferably fed-wide? Half the problems they have are moving data from one system to another, as agencies 'reimburse' each other with imaginary money. (The absurdity of the funding business model is left as an exercise for the reader.) What part of Its All The Same Store do they not understand?

Please post your comments here. Comments are moderated, so they may not appear immediately after submitting. We will not post comments that we consider abusive or off-topic.

Please type the letters/numbers you see above

What is your e-mail address?

My e-mail address is:

Do you have a password?

Forgot your password? Click here
close

Trending

  • Dive into our Contract Award database

    In an exclusive for WT Insider members, we are collecting all of the contract awards we cover into a database that you can sort by contractor, agency, value and other parameters. You can also download it into a spreadsheet. Our databases track awards back to 2013. Read More

  • Navigating the trends and issues of 2016 Nick Wakeman

    In our latest WT Insider Report, we pull together our best advice, insights and reporting on the trends and issues that will shape the market in 2016 and beyond. Read More

contracts DB

Washington Technology Daily

Sign up for our newsletter.

I agree to this site's Privacy Policy.