Financial Management:

Actions Needed to Ensure Effective Implementation of NASA's Accounting System

AFMD-91-74: Published: Aug 21, 1991. Publicly Released: Aug 21, 1991.

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GAO reviewed the National Aeronautics and Space Administration's (NASA) efforts to design and develop the NASA Accounting and Financial Information System (NAFIS), focusing on whether: (1) NASA efforts to develop NAFIS conformed with federal guidance and requirements; (2) NASA adequately planned NAFIS development; and (3) any lack of conformance with system development guidelines would jeopardize successful NAFIS implementation.

GAO found that: (1) NASA did not initiate the NAFIS project under the framework of an overall financial management plan that would provide a structured, agencywide approach for developing its financial management systems; (2) required 5-year financial system plans for fiscal years 1991 and 1992 did not identify all NAFIS costs and milestones or adequately describe its approach for interfacing with related financial systems as a means for setting priorities and allocating resources; (3) the NAFIS project will not result in a system that meets Office of Management and Budget or legislative requirements to integrate or interface budgeting and accounting systems; (4) NASA did not perform some analyses, or adequately perform other analyses, needed to support NAFIS system design and development decisions; (5) the cost-benefit analysis for NAFIS provided limited information for determining which of four systems alternatives would be the most cost-beneficial; (6) NASA has not finalized and approved a NAFIS project plan to guide the overall management of the system development effort to completion; (7) because NASA has not identified what the reporting system redevelopment will entail or identified individual NASA centers' conversion needs beyond those of the developmental center, it cannot ensure that the reporting system's implementation will be complete at the time of the centers' implementation of the Installation-Level Accounting System; and (8) due to inadequate NASA planning and analysis, NAFIS will cost significantly more and take longer to fully implement than planned.

Recommendations for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Not Implemented

    Comments: After 7 years of in-house development, NASA's Administrator and CFO cancelled NAFIS on February 1, 1995, in favor of the timely acquisition of a Commercial Off-The-Shelf (COTS) accounting system. NASA plans to issue a request for proposals by December 31, 1995. This recommendation is therefore no longer applicable.

    Recommendation: The Administrator, NASA, should direct the Comptroller to ensure the approval, and subsequent implementation of, a NAFIS project plan that addresses all costs, requirements, and milestones for conversion to and implementation of the Installation-Level Accounting System and the Agencywide Reporting System.

    Agency Affected: National Aeronautics and Space Administration

  2. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: NASA's September 1, 1994, Five-Year CFO Plan included an objective to implement a single, integrated financial management system using NASA's Accounting and Financial Information System (NAFIS), which had been under development since 1989. On February 1, 1995 NASA's Administrator and CFO cancelled NAFIS and are now in the process of procuring an off-the-shelf system (COTS) to replace NAFIS. COTS is intended to be an integrated system in full compliance with OMB Circular A-127. This recommendation is therefore complete.

    Recommendation: The Administrator, NASA, should direct the Comptroller to ensure that the agency's 5-year financial systems plan discloses NASA plans to standardize its planning and budgeting systems, and integrate or interface these systems with NAFIS, to achieve the governmentwide mandate for a single, integrated financial management system.

    Agency Affected: National Aeronautics and Space Administration

  3. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: NASA's 1994 5-Year CFO Plan estimated milestones for the Automated Funds Control System (AFCS), formerly the Control Tracking System. NASA estimates that AFCS will cost under $10 million. AFCS Phase IA--preliminary release of direct and reimbursable resource authority--was completed in September 1994. NASA's 1994 5-year CFO plan also includes milestones for implementation of TALC/LD. TALC is targeted for implementation in May 1995 and LD is targeted for implementation in October 1995. NASA estimates that TALC/LD will cost about $13 million. OMB has required that systems costs be included in agencies' A-11 budget submissions rather than their 5-year CFO plans.

    Recommendation: The Administrator, NASA, should direct the Comptroller to ensure that the agency's 5-year financial systems plan discloses all costs and milestones for the Control Tracking System project and other financial-related NAFIS system interfaces.

    Agency Affected: National Aeronautics and Space Administration

  4. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: NASA has established NAFIS cost estimates and implementation milestone dates and has reported milestone dates for NAFIS and related systems in its September 1, 1994, 5-year CFO plan. The plan states that NAFIS is to be fully implemented in April 1997. NASA estimated that NAFIS and related Automated Funds Control System (AFCS) and Time, Attendance, Labor Collection/Labor Distribution (TALC/LD) will be fully implemented in September 1996 and October 1995 respectively. NASA estimates that costs to fully implement all three systems will total about $100 million. OMB now requires that systems costs be reported in agencies' A-11 budget submissions rather than their 5-year CFO plans.

    Recommendation: The Administrator, NASA, should direct the Comptroller to ensure that the agency's 5-year financial systems plan discloses all project costs and milestones for developing and implementing NAFIS, including those for hardware and software, data cleanup, and data conversion of the Installation-Level Accounting System and the Agencywide Reporting System.

    Agency Affected: National Aeronautics and Space Administration

  5. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: NASA's OIG has continued to develop its staff's accounting and financial management expertise. The OIG has completed audits of NASA's fiscal year 1992 and 1993 financial statements. The OIG is also monitoring the development and implementation of NAFIS and related NASA financial systems.

    Recommendation: The Inspector General, NASA, should develop the necessary expertise within the Office of Inspector General (OIG) staff to ensure the performance of reviews and oversight of the NAFIS development project, as well as reviews of NASA automated financial systems.

    Agency Affected: National Aeronautics and Space Administration: Office of the Inspector General

 

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