Measuring success

Despite the training-related problems, SOAR has achieved most of its

goals. The system provides basic accounting capabilities to every Washington, D.C.,

agency and generates reports on projects for program managers, which helps

them measure the projects' success.

The next milestone for SOAR is an annual audit begun last August. The district's

Consolidated Annual Financial Report will be released when the audit is

done, and this is the first time data from SOAR will be used to generate

the report. Fiscal 1999 data will be used, which represents information

from SOAR's first year in operation. It is hoped that this will provide

a clear picture of status of the new system.

However, the district's Office of the Chief Financial Officer issued

a statement in late January that the CAFR, which is typically released within

four months of the close of the fiscal year, would be delayed until late

April or early May because of delays associated with SOAR. Some formatting

problems were blamed for the delay, but no financial impact is associated

with the report's late release, according to the statement.

Once the audit is done and the CAFR is released, the ultimate goal for

SOAR and the district is to move to a performance-based budget, Carnahan

said.

By definition, a performance-based organization's goals are to increase

customer service while reducing costs, and agencies are given more management

and procurement flexibility to achieve those goals. Incorporating performance

measures into agency projects and creating a performance-based budget would

give the district more financial and procurement flexibility, while maintaining

customer service and costs.

"There's a lot out there to work with, but still a tremendous body of

work to do yet," Carnahan said.

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