District of Columbia:

Inspector General Independence as Compared to Federal Agencies and Acquisition of a New Financial Management System

AIMD-98-27R: Published: Oct 31, 1997. Publicly Released: Oct 31, 1997.

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GAO provided information on two issues addressed by the District of Columbia Appropriations Bill for fiscal year 1998, focusing on: (1) how independence is addressed in current law for federal Inspectors General (IGs) compared to the District of Columbia Inspector General, as well as responsibilities for arranging for financial audits of the financial statements for their respective organizations; and (2) whether the District's Chief Financial Officer and the District of Columbia Financial Responsibility and Management Assistance Authority (Control Board) have developed a concept of operations, a requirements definition, and an analysis of alternatives--the three fundamental building blocks of a successful systems acquisition--in determining the District's needs for a new financial management system.

GAO noted that: (1) the Inspector General Act of 1978 (IG Act) contains various provisions that are intended to provide the IGs with the independence required to keep their agency heads, and the Congress, informed about problems and deficiencies relating to the administration of programs; (2) the District of Columbia IG was statutorily established by the District of Columbia Procurement Practices Act of 1985 (District Act), as amended, which has provisions regarding IG independence that are similar to those in the IG Act; (3) unlike the IG Act, the District Act does not require a semiannual report, but the IG is required to make available to the public an annual report on the operational audit of procurement activities; (4) the District IG is required to transmit to the District Council the reviews and investigations that are requested by the Control Board; (5) the District Act does not have provisions regarding the selection and appointment of officers and employees, general supervision, direct access to top officials, or a prohibition on the transfer of program duties to the IG; (6) the District IG is appointed by the Mayor to 6-year terms, except in control years, and can be removed by the Mayor; (7) H.R. 2607 would require that an official removing the District IG explain the reason for the removal to Congress before the removal rather than after, as in the case of federal IGs; (8) in arranging for financial statement audits, federal IGs are authorized to enter into contracts and other arrangements for audits, studies, analyses, and other services with public agencies or private officials and make such payments as necessary; (9) the District IG shall enter into a contract with auditor who is not an employee of the IG's office to audit the District's financial statements and report on the activities of the District government and audit the Control Board's certification regarding the District's financial plan and budget; (10) the District's concept of operations for a new financial management system does not show how the various components of the District's financial management system will interact, the information flows, or the operations that must be preformed and how these operations will be carried out; (11) according to the project plan provided by the District, requirements have been developed and are scheduled to be confirmed for the new system; (12) GAO could not determine whether the requirements were complete; (13) the District awarded a contract to acquire the new system without developing an adequate alternatives analysis; and (14) the system is expected to be operational by October 1998.

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