DOT financial system rapped, defended

DOT financial systems page

The Transportation Department should stop fielding a replacement for its outdated financial management system until numerous problems in the new system are corrected, according to a report by the agency's inspector general's office. But DOT and Oracle Corp. officials question the report's timing and fairness.

The new program, called Delphi, is based on an Oracle commercial off-the-shelf system and was first fielded at the Federal Railroad Administration and then at six other small department units. The IG found a number of shortcomings with the system.

"These serious deficiencies warrant immediate attention and delay of the implementation schedule for DOT's larger and more complex agencies," wrote Alexis Stefani, assistant inspector general for auditing. "It is more important to correct these deficiencies before full implementation, rather than [risking] disruption of service or loss of control over DOT financial operations."

The IG recommended establishing corrective action plans with specific target completion dates and a method to address other deficiencies as they arise, along with creating and testing disaster-recovery and security measures.

David Kleinberg, who recently retired as DOT's deputy chief financial officer, agreed with the recommendations in a memo that accompanied the report, but questioned the timing of the audit, saying the review began only when Delphi was initially being fielded last fall.

In an interview, new acting deputy CFO Tom Park said that although the audit helped the CFO office "focus on some of the issues we needed to work through," such as better communication with and training for users, "we think they did it a little early.

"There are gaps, but we were working through those," he said. Also, most of the problems stemmed not from the software itself, but from methods in place to convert data from the legacy system (the Departmental Accounting and Financial Information System) and to make the data compliant with the Joint Financial Management Improvement Program (JFMIP), which sets federal requirements, Park said. Mark Johnson, vice president of federal sales for Oracle, said "the issue is not one of the software, but of procedures in place at the time" the audit was conducted. He said the cultural issues involved in implementing a new COTS system are the biggest challenges to overcome.

In addition, correspondence sent to the IG office from Kleinberg and the JFMIP supporting the Oracle software, as well as letters from Johnson himself, were not included in the report, he said.

"We don't really feel that this report does a good job of presenting a balanced view of Delphi implementation," Johnson said. "We think it's pretty one-sided."

MORE INFO

Delphi deficiencies

The Transportation Department inspector general found several shortcomings

in DOT's Delphi financial management system, including failure to:

* Automatically account for recovery of prior-year funds.

* Prevent agencies from changing each other's financial data.

* Generate reliable financial statements and other financial reports.

* Adjust obligations electronically recorded from other financial systems.

* Interact electronically with other internal and external systems.

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