Charting the impact of OMB's temporary 2010 financial systems halt

The Office of Management and Budget’s 2010 decision to halt 30 financial management projects had little impact on the cost and completion time of many programs, but agencies saw other shortcomings from the freeze, according to the Government Accountability Office.

GAO found that most agencies reported no change or that they did not know how the long-term project cost or completion time would change as an outcome of the actions, decisions and recommendations related to OMB’s June 28, 2010 memorandum.

The memo laid out governmentwide policies associated with financial system overhauls, requiring agencies to come up with plans on how to make financial system modernizations more cost-efficient. The memo also directed agencies to find ways to better align projects with high-priority business needs as well as enhance their financial systems. While they were conducting the reviews, the agencies were to enter into no new contracts or task orders, under the memo's terms.

Despite lack of adverse effect on cost and timelines, agencies experienced other drawbacks of the freeze. Several agencies reported that their new focus on adopting more critical business needs delayed their work to improve accounting and reporting functions. One agency, for example, found that OMB disapproved its project to upgrade its accounting software to a current version, which hampered the agency’s ability to keep its systems secure and implement new technology.

Agencies also found that standardization of internal processes or data and funding delays to be particularly challenging. Twelve of 22 agencies said standardization of internal processes or data is a main or moderate roadblock. Nine agencies cited funding delays as a significant or moderate challenge. One agency reported that continuing delays make planning difficult as the program manager is unable to begin new projects until funding status has been set. 

About the Author

Camille Tuutti is a former FCW staff writer who covered federal oversight and the workforce.

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