Financial Management:

State's Systems Planning Needs to Focus on Correcting Long-standing Problems

AIMD-94-141: Published: Aug 12, 1994. Publicly Released: Sep 30, 1994.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO provided information on the Department of State's financial management improvement efforts, focusing on whether State is effectively planning for and managing its Integrated Financial Management System (IFMS) initiative.

GAO found that: (1) State has not adequately planned or managed its new financial management improvement initiatives; (2) State has not documented its target financial management structure, the integration of subsidiary systems into the structure, or how IFMS relates to its other long-term improvement efforts; (3) State's current major system plans do not address agencywide needs and issues or State's reported financial management weaknesses; (4) State does not have definitive descriptions of its current financial management system structure or its ongoing systems development projects; (5) State's lack of an agencywide information resources management (IRM) structure contributes to its financial management problems and its lack of knowledge of its systems and projects; and (6) State has prematurely issued a solicitation for all IFMS requirements as well as any necessary maintenance of its existing financial management systems.

Recommendations for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: In response to our recommendation State has embarked on a self assessment on the relationship between GAO's recommendations and the IFMS's project plan and development strategy. In addition, State has requested GSA conduct an independent assessment on the strategic plan and development strategy for IFMS. These assessments will help State develop a plan to integrate the various subsidary systems, as well as establish a vision of how the IFMS will operate.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of State should develop a comprehensive agencywide information strategy plan that describes a target structure for IFMS, establishes what systems will be included in IFMS, defines how these systems will be integrated within the target structure, and describes how IFMS relates to State's other improvement efforts.

    Agency Affected: Department of State

  2. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: In response to our recommendation State has established a Major IRM Program Board and a minor IRM Program Board in October 1994. Both Boards are made up of the same 12 senior State officials. The Major Board reviews corporate systems, programs whose life-cycle value is above $30 million, or those programs determined to be of mission critical importance. The Major Board's first task is to develop an IRM vision that will provide direct support to State's overall mission. The minor IRM Board (1) develops the IRM vision from State's strategic plan, (2) approves the IRM strategic plan developed by Information Management with State's Bureaus, and (3) advises the Under Secretary of State for Management in enforcing IRM policies and procedures. The minor Board generally reviews and approves IRM programs whose life-cycle costs are $30 million or less.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of State should establish an agencywide IRM management leadership structure to oversee all agency system improvement initiatives and to provide short- and long-term support, direction, and oversight.

    Agency Affected: Department of State

  3. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: In response to our recommendation State has stopped the design and construction of primary functions of the IFMS set forth in the IFMS's Request For Proposal (RFP). This action, in effect, has allowed State to defer entering into contractural arrangements for the full scope of work under the solicitation for the IFMS initiative until State has: (1) articulated how IFMS will solve long-standing internal control and financial management systems weaknesses; and (2) established detailed requirements for individual system development projects to address high-risk areas.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of State should defer entering into contractual arrangements for the full scope of work under the solicitation for the IFMS initiative until State: (1) articulates how IFMS will solve long-standing internal control and financial management systems weaknesses; and (2) establishes detailed requirements for individual system development projects to address high-risk areas.

    Agency Affected: Department of State

 

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