NASA rethinks biz plan
- By Paula Shaki Trimble
- Nov 05, 2000
NASA is taking small steps, rather than giant leaps, as it changes the way
its research centers across the country do business and streamline operations.
NASA started rethinking its plans for an enterprisewide financial, travel
and human resources system early this year, after years of work with KPMG
LLP failed to produce the first piece of the so-called Integrated Financial
Eventually, IFMP will help NASA track transactions from start to finish,
whether it's hiring someone, buying a product or service, or managing technology
programs. It will also help NASA accurately report its finances and use
the information in its budget requests.
IFMP will also act as the "backbone" for the agency's eNASA initiative,
said Ken Stepka, an analyst responsible for electronic procurement programs
at NASA. The agency's procurement office and chief information officer's
office are now designing the framework for eNASA.
"Eventually, everything will plug into IFMP," Stepka said. The eNASA
concept is based on streamlining NASA's business with external customers,
whether it's buying products or providing information to the public. Technologies
such as IFMP and public-key infrastructure will be crucial to connecting
the agency electronically with its customers, he said.
In March, the IFMP staff began reworking its enterprise resource planning
program and redesigning its implementation plan. "We assumed one contractor
wouldn't be able to deliver all the functions," said Michael Mann, IFMP
program manager at NASA. Instead, the staff solicited proposals from the
pool of core financial software vendors that are certified to meet common
Mann's team also dramatically changed the structure of the program,
which encompasses a total of 14 projects to be implemented at 10 NASA centers.
Each project, such as core financials and human resources, now has a steering
committee. In addition, each piece of IFMP will be implemented at a pilot
site first and then deployed to other NASA centers.
"Now, each center has their own financial systems," Mann said. "Some
are integrated. Some are not. Some are obsolete."
For its core financial software, the largest piece of IFMP, NASA chose
SAP Public Sector and Education Inc.'s mySAP.com package. NASA plans to
select its implementation service provider from competitors Andersen Consulting
and PricewaterhouseCoopers this month.
Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala., is the pilot site
for the core financial piece, and NASA will move operations to a single
computing center at Marshall as it deploys the system to other NASA centers
by 2005, he said.
NASA's $6.67 million contract with SAP does not commit it to use only
SAP products, but the agency will look to see where SAP products fit, Mann
"There is an ongoing intellectual battle in this town: best of breed
vs. ERP," said Philip Kiviat, president of The Kiviat Group, a consulting
firm. Whether to have just one integrated ERP system or to "mix and match
is very much a matter of personal preference and agency organi-zation,"
When choosing different software for each function, rather than a single
ERP package, an agency must have an integrator familiar with the software,
said Patrick Smith, executive director of the General Services Administration's
Financial Management Systems Services Center.
"The small- and midsize agencies all seem to be going with the best-of-breed
approach...as a result of the cost as well as needs, time frames and implementation
process," Smith said.
NASA also is looking at a series of human resources projects called
Pathfinder to improve recruiting, employee data management and travel management.
Pathfinder is part of IFMP, but for now it includes stand-alone projects
involving about 100 users.