GAO officials find flaws in NASA finance system plans

National Aeronautic and Space Administration

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NASA officials must discontinue the current strategy for implementing the agency's planned financial management system and instead operate within a defined enterprise architecture, according to several reports issued today by the General Accounting Office.

Officials from NASA expect to complete the space agency's $500 million Integrated Financial Management System in 2006. GAO officials released four reports outlining concerns and recommendations for the implementation of NASA's $500 million Integrated Financial Management System. At the heart of the GAO's concerns is the fact that NASA has been buying system components have been without an enterprise architecture blueprint to guide the program.

"It is critical for NASA to discontinue this approach and adopt the best practice of managing its IFMP system investments within the context of a well-defined enterprise architecture," the GAO report says.

In response to GAO's criticism, NASA officials released an incomplete version of its enterprise architecture, established an architecture program office and designated a chief architect. However, the space agency has used insufficient architecture products to manage its investments in the system, GAO observers said.

A major concern of GAO officials is that NASA deferred testing and implementation of key requirements of the Core Financial Module, which GAO officials consider the backbone of the system. This module, deployed last June, is the fifth of nine planned modules for the system.

According to the GAO, many of financial events or transaction types needed by the agency's 10 centers had not been included in the module. As a result, GAO officials feel NASA cannot ensure that the system provides program managers and key stakeholders, such as Congress, the financial information needed to measure program performance and ensure accountability.

GAO officials also listed concerns with questionable cost estimates, an ambitious implementation schedule and insufficient processes for ensuring adequate funding reserves.

In 2002, NASA accelerated the original implementation schedule for the IFMS, which initially was slated for implementation in 2008. The next planned module is the budget formulation module, which scheduled for completion in February 2004.

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