Four years after passing a landmark law, Congress needs to step in and push agencies to improve their financial management systems, according to the Office of Management and Budget.
Four years after passing a landmark law, Congress needs to step in and push
agencies to improve their financial management systems, according to the
Office of Management and Budget.
Agencies were given three years to comply with the Federal Financial Management
Improvement Act of 1996, but only three agencies — NASA, the National Science
Foundation and the Energy Department — have met this goal.
Agencies that did not comply within three years were required to consult
with OMB and produce a plan to meet the goal as soon as possible, said Joshua
Gotbaum, executive associate director and controller of OMB, testifying
before the House Government Reform Committee's Government Management, Information
and Technology Subcommittee.
Although Gotbaum did not see the need to modify the law, he asked Congress
to keep agencies on task. "Agencies really are working at this and really
are making progress," he said.
Agencies cited challenges such as balancing priorities and difficulty
implementing software systems as barriers to complying with FFMIA.
"Weak computer security is the reason cited most often," said Jeffrey Steinhoff,
assistant comptroller general for accounting and information management
programs at the General Accounting Office.
Although increasing numbers of agencies are receiving clean audit opinions
for their annual financial statements, most agencies' financial management
systems are still not compliant with FFMIA, Steinhoff said.
NASA has complied with FFMIA and achieves clean audit opinions but does
not have an integrated financial management system. NASA, after a failed
attempt to implement a commercial system, is restructuring its program and
is procuring a commercial system.
Arnold Holtz, NASA's chief financial officer, said he hopes to award the
core financial system to a single vendor by November and will not customize
the software. Holtz also said the requirement that an agency "substantially
comply" with OMB's financial standards has made it possible for NASA to
comply with FFMIA.
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