GAO: Treasury's report system falls short

GAO report: Financial Management Service

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The Treasury Department’s Governmentwide Financial Report System (GFRS) is a good idea, but the department isn’t developing it well, a Government Accountability Office report found.

According to a report released April 21, GAO found that Treasury has yet to develop a concept of operations defining the system’s performance or to create a project plan and schedule for it. The department has yet to justify the project in its Capital Asset Plan and Business Case, as required by the Office of Management and Budget. Finally, GAO found that Treasury has failed to build in the necessary processes to manage the GFRS project, leading to problems using the system.

The oversight agency’s report recommends that the department work on those areas. Treasury’s commissioner for financial management service, Richard Gregg, agreed with the recommendations and said the department is putting them into practice.

GFRS’ purpose is to link information directly from agencies’ audited financial statements to amounts reported in consolidated financial statements. Once in place, the system will ease auditing of the statements, GAO said.

Those shortfalls could hinder how well GFRS will meet performance, schedule and cost goals, GAO’s report found. The project was started in fiscal 2004.

Disciplined processes can reduce the risk associated with software development and acquisition, GAO states.

Gregg wrote in a response letter that Treasury plans to develop a concept of operations plan and that the department has started a budget justification for GFRS.

GAO also found that problems with GFRS forced Treasury to use manual procedures, primarily regarding consolidated financial statements for the past two years, even though the system was supposed to help avoid manual procedures.

“How we accomplish a task should not be judged only on the manual procedures involved but also by taking into account the internal controls that we have in place to mitigate the risks involved and ensure the integrity of the data,” Gregg said.

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