Shared Services

DHS moves ahead on financial system amid questions from Congress

Shared financial management 

Three days after a congressional panel probed delays and overspending by the Department of Homeland Security on financial management systems modernization, the agency is out with a near-final request for proposals for plans for the system.

The solicitation that went out to vendors on the agency's EAGLE II contract vehicle on Sept. 28 is "95 percent complete," according to contracting documents obtained by FCW. Comments on the draft are due Oct. 2, and the agency is looking to make an award by Oct. 31.

Financial management system modernization efforts DHS have had problems in the past. The latest solicitation represents the fourth time the agency has tried to upgrade the system over the years. An effort to migrate to a shared services agreement with the Department of the Interior's Interior Business Center that was abandoned earlier this year because of missed deadlines and cost overruns.

"DHS is now rushing to implement a new strategy, which will likely put taxpayer dollars at more risk to waste," Rep. Scott Perry, (R-Pa.), chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee's Oversight and Management Efficiency Subcommittee, said during a Sept. 26 hearing on the system. "We are at a critical moment; DHS must fully engage with the private sector to help salvage this disaster. Leveraging industry's talents is what should have been done in the first place and is the only possible way DHS might right this ship."

A Government Accountability Office report discussed at the hearing noted that costs related to the financial management shared service implementation rose 54 percent over three years, from $79.2 million to $122 million from 2014 to 2017.

Chip Fulgum, deputy undersecretary for management, told the committee on Sept. 26 that he has a plan to move forward. DHS will work with the IBC to shift DNDO financial management to a private cloud platform. This platform could be expanded to serve TSA by the beginning of fiscal year 2020 and the Coast Guard by the beginning of fiscal year 2021.

By this October, he said, the system DHS and DNDO brought over from IBC would serve 80 percent of DNDO's integrated financial management needs.

"The decision to leverage the solution currently in use by DNDO provides the best available option to meet DHS financial management needs for TSA and USCG within a reasonable timeframe," he said in opening remarks at the hearing. "DHS will preserve its robust governance structure, with Acquisition Review Board oversight, and a fully engaged FSM Executive Steering Committee."

Mike Hettinger, a former House staffer who consults and lobbies on government technology and contracting issues, had questions about the timing of the latest solicitation. He told FCW that he was both "surprised" and "not surprised" that DHS moved quickly to issue the final draft of the financial systems modernization RFP.

"Given the questions raised by Congress just three days ago, you would think DHS leadership would have taken time to consider the concerns expressed by the House Homeland Security Committee," he said.

FCW posed questions on the issue to the DHS press office and will update with any reply.

About the Author

Mark Rockwell is a senior staff writer at FCW, whose beat focuses on acquisition, the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Energy.

Before joining FCW, Rockwell was Washington correspondent for Government Security News, where he covered all aspects of homeland security from IT to detection dogs and border security. Over the last 25 years in Washington as a reporter, editor and correspondent, he has covered an increasingly wide array of high-tech issues for publications like Communications Week, Internet Week, Fiber Optics News, tele.com magazine and Wireless Week.

Rockwell received a Jesse H. Neal Award for his work covering telecommunications issues, and is a graduate of James Madison University.

Click here for previous articles by Rockwell. Contact him at mrockwell@fcw.com or follow him on Twitter at @MRockwell4.


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