Financial systems overhaul on OMB’s radar

By Max Cacas
Federal News Radio

The Office of Management and Budget is pulling out its fine-tooth comb this week as it begins the task of ferreting out financial management modernization projects in need of refinement, based on the latest priorities set by President Obama.

The White House’s federal chief information officer Vivek Kundra says battling the trend toward IT over engineering is the primary motive behind OMB 10-26, a memorandum which was issued June 28th and is one of a series outlining the administration’s efforts to broadly reform IT procurement and implementation in the government.

OMB will start agency-by-agency meetings with IT representatives as a part of a top-to-bottom review of the projects at the 23 agencies detailed in the memo. Danny Werfel, OMB’s controller, told reporters in a conference call Friday that each of those agencies is conducting internal reviews of their modernization projects.

“They’re assessing whether there are any gaps between those plans, and the guiding principles set out in the memo, regarding targeted, more accelerated deployment around focused areas and priorities,” he says.

A newly formed six member Financial Systems Advisory Board (FSAB) will assist OMB in this review effort. The board’s members include:

  • Todd Grams, acting chief financial officer, Department of Veterans Affairs
  • Jon Holliday, acting CFO, Agriculture Department
  • Colleen Barros, deputy director for management and CFO, National Institutes of Health
  • Danny Harris, CIO, Department of Education
  • Jerry Williams, CIO, Department of Housing and Urban Development
  • David Fisher, director, Business Transformation Agency, Department of Defense

“This gives us an opportunity to look at these systems with a different set of eyes,” Holliday says. “It gives us an opportunity to look at the risk across the entire financial portfolio, and it also lets us look at how we’ll mitigate that risk.”

Werfel says the projects in question are at various stages of their development, ranging from some that are still coming up with their requirements, to others that are nearly at the contract-awarding stage.

“We think across the board there is a tendency for agencies to move beyond the most priority business needs, as they develop their plans for the project,” Werfel says. ” And by not targeting the project to the highest priority business needs, the projects become larger than they need to be, or ought to be.”

Kundra says as agency projects are cleared by the FASB board and OMB as consistent with the tenets of the memo, they will be cleared to proceed with their investments and development.

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