OMB agreed with our recommendation and in September 2006 issued high-level guidance to federal agencies. The guidance identified various disciplined processes, such as project management, requirements management, and data conversion, to reduce the risks associated with financial management systems implementations. While OMB’s guidance is a notable first step, more detailed guidance is needed to help ensure a consistent understanding of the needed processes.
A key for DHS to avoid the long-standing implementation problems identified at other agencies is to successfully implement the recommendations in our report.15 These recommendations are consistent with OMB’s high-level guidance. Toward this end, DHS has recognized the importance of disciplined processes, and acknowledged that the success of its efforts is predicated on having a disciplined set of processes from requirements development to acceptance. In comments on our draft report,16 DHS also indicated that it planned to add staff with program management and systems capabilities experience to manage its risks.
We have been told that the long-term vision of the Department is to consolidate its financial management systems down to 2 from about 500. Mr. Norquist and Mr. Charbo testified that by 2011 97% of the Department will be on consolidated financial management systems. According to their testimony, they will move to Phase 2 and move the entire department to one financial management system. It is not clear what they mean by Phase 2.
What are your views on this two-phased approach that Mr. Norquist and Mr. Charbo have outlined?
The scope of our review did not include an analysis of DHS’s two-phased approach to consolidating financial management systems because DHS first announced this approach at the June 28, 2007, hearing. As noted in DHS’s comments to our draft report,17 it expects to use several financial management systems for an extended period. For example, DHS noted that the systems used by the Secret Service and the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center were not going to be migrated to one of the two consolidated financial management systems until at least 2011. Accordingly, it is unclear whether one or more of these systems will also need to undergo major upgrades before they are transitioned to one of the two planned financial management systems. Significant cost, time, and effort are associated with maintaining and upgrading financial management systems over an extended period of time. Therefore, it is important to recognize that such an approach may result in excessive costs.
7. OMB has recently taken over the responsibilities of the former Joint Financial Management Improvement Program (JFMIP) to perform tests on financial management systems or packages used by agencies to ensure that the packages met a set of “core requirements.” Once the financial management packages pass the tests, OMB certifies them as “JFMIP compliant” and ready for use by the agencies.
15GAO-07-536. 16GAO-07-536. 17GAO-07-536.
GAO-07-1157R DHS Posthearing Questions