District of Columbia:

Software Acquisition Processes for a New Financial Management System

AIMD-98-88: Published: Apr 30, 1998. Publicly Released: Apr 30, 1998.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed whether the District of Columbia had implemented disciplined software acquisition processes for its new financial management system (FMS).

GAO noted that: (1) while the District has many strengths in its acquisition processes for FMS, it also has many weaknesses; (2) when compared to standards established by the Software Engineering Institute, the District's processes for software acquisitions are not mature; (3) of the six key process areas (KPA) evaluated for the repeatable level, the District fully satisfied only one--solicitation; (4) severe weaknesses were found in other critical key processes, including requirements development and management and evaluation; (5) for example, the District does not have a policy for establishing and managing software-related requirements, does not at present have adequate resources for requirements development, and has not formally designated responsibility for requirements development and management; (6) similarly, the District does not have an effective evaluation process, and is currently unable to objectively determine if the acquired systems will satisfy the contract requirement; (7) finally, the District has not satisfied the one KPA evaluated for the defined level of maturity, acquisition risk management; and (8) the FMS project does not have a risk management plan and does not track project risk.

Recommendations for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: The District's Office of the Chief Technology Officer (OCTO) established a policy that instituted evaluation criteria for acquiring and implementing computer systems (both hardware and software) and put a disciplined approach in place to complete implementation of its financial management system. This policy identifies the roles and responsibilities of OCTO and District agencies as related to compliance with the policy. The OCTO also established program management standards for system development and technology acquisition. For further information, see the comments and actions taken to close related recommendations discussed in GAO-01-489.

    Recommendation: For software acquisition planning, the Chairman, District of Columbia Financial Responsibility and Management Assistance Authority, should direct the District's Chief Financial Officer to take the following actions to ensure that the current FMS acquisition and implementation is satisfactorily completed and apply these actions to any future software acquisitions: (1) document decisions and update planning documents to ensure that large acquisitions such as FMS can be effectively managed; (2) designate responsibility for software acquisition planning activities; (3) determine required resources for acquisition planning; (4) ensure that measurements of software acquisition activities are taken; (5) ensure that the software acquisition planning documentation is updated as well as make program changes regarding outsourcing of the data center and upgrading the current system versus buying off-the-shelf; (6) ensure that the software acquisition planning documentation addresses life-cycle support of the software; and (7) develop a written policy for software acquisition planning.

    Agency Affected: District of Columbia: District of Columbia Financial Responsibility and Management Assistance Authority

  2. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: The District's Office of Chief Technology Officer (OCTO) established program management standards for system development and technology acquisition to complete implementation of its financial management system. The standards define the processes necessary to ensure the context of the proposed solution meets identified business needs and requirements. Key areas discussed in these standards are requirements development, project management, quality verification processes, development of a training plan. For further information, see the comments and actions taken to close related recommendations discussed in GAO-01-489.

    Recommendation: For requirements development and management, the Chairman, District of Columbia Financial Responsibility and Management Assistance Authority, should direct the District's Chief Financial Officer to take the following actions to ensure that the current FMS acquisition and implementation is satisfactorily completed and apply these actions to any future software acquisitions: (1) develop an organizational policy for establishing and managing software-related requirements; (2) clearly assign responsibility for requirements development and management; (3) document either resource requirements or resources expended for requirements development activities; (4) develop the capability to trace between contractual requirements and the contractor's work products; and (5) develop measurements to determine the status of the requirements development and management activities.

    Agency Affected: District of Columbia: District of Columbia Financial Responsibility and Management Assistance Authority

  3. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: The District's Office of Chief Technology Officer (OCTO) established program management standards for system development and technology acquisition to complete implementation of its financial management system. The standards define the processes necessary to ensure the context of the proposed solution meets identified business needs and requirements. Key areas discussed in these standards are requirements development, project management, quality verification processes, development of a training plan. For further information, see the comments and actions taken to close related recommendations discussed in GAO-01-489.

    Recommendation: For project management, the Chairman, District of Columbia Financial Responsibility and Management Assistance Authority, should direct the District's Chief Financial Officer to take the following actions to ensure that the current FMS acquisition and implementation is satisfactorily completed and apply these actions to any future software acquisitions: (1) develop a written policy for the execution of the software project; (2) authorize the project manager to independently alter either the performance, cost, or schedule; and (3) require that measurements be taken to determine the status of project management activities.

    Agency Affected: District of Columbia: District of Columbia Financial Responsibility and Management Assistance Authority

  4. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: The District's Office of the Chief Technology Officer (OCTO) established program management standards for system development and technology acquisition to complete implementation of its financial management system and that defines the processes necessary to ensure the proposed solution meets identified business needs and requirements. For further information, see the comments and actions taken to close related recommendations discussed in GAO-01-489.

    Recommendation: For contracting and oversight, the Chairman, District of Columbia Financial Responsibility and Management Assistance Authority, should direct the District's Chief Financial Officer to take the following actions to ensure that the current FMS acquisition and implementation is satisfactorily completed and apply these actions to any future software acquisitions: (1) develop written policy for contract tracking and oversight activities for the financial management system project; (2) support the project team with contracting specialists; (3) require that the project team review the contractor's planning documents (for example, the project management plan, software risk management plan, software engineering plan, configuration management plan); (4) assign someone responsibility for maintaining the integrity of the contract; and (5) take measurements to determine the status of contract tracking and oversight activities.

    Agency Affected: District of Columbia: District of Columbia Financial Responsibility and Management Assistance Authority

  5. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: The District's Office of the Chief Technology Officer (OCTO) established a policy that instituted evaluation criteria for acquiring and implementing computer systems (both hardware and software) and put a disciplined approach in place to complete implementation of its financial management system. In addition, OCTO implemented program management standards that address key areas including, requirements development, project management, quality verification processes and training plans. For further information, see the comments and actions taken to close related recommendations discussed in GAO-01-489.

    Recommendation: For evaluation, the Chairman, District of Columbia Financial Responsibility and Management Assistance Authority, should direct the District's Chief Financial Officer to take the following actions to ensure that the current FMS acquisition and implementation is satisfactorily completed and apply these actions to any future software acquisitions: (1) develop written policy for managing the evaluation of acquired software products and services; (2) develop a documented evaluation plan; (3) develop evaluation requirements in conjunction with system requirements; (4) assess the contractor's performance for compliance with evaluation requirements; (5) develop measurements to determine the status of evaluation activities; and (6) ensure that the Authority and the project manager review the status of evaluation activities.

    Agency Affected: District of Columbia: District of Columbia Financial Responsibility and Management Assistance Authority

  6. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: The District's Office of the Chief Technology Officer (OCTO) issued program management standards that provide (1) a framework to assist in the initiation, planning, execution, control and close-out of acquisition projects, and (2) program elements that detail policy, organizations, engineering tasks, processes and documentation necessary for professional execution of technology acquisition projects. OTCO also established an executive steering committee led by the City Administrator/Deputy Mayor and includes directors from 15 District agencies to oversee financial management systems projects. For further information, see the comments and actions taken to close related recommendations discussed in GAO-01-489.

    Recommendation: For acquisition risk management, the Chairman, District of Columbia Financial Responsibility and Management Assistance Authority, should direct the District's Chief Financial Officer to take the following actions to ensure that current FMS acquisition and implementation is satisfactorily completed and apply these actions to any future software acquisitions: (1) develop written policy for software acquisition risk management; (2) designate a group to be responsible for coordinating software acquisition risk management activities; (3) define resource requirements for acquisition risk management; (4) ensure that individuals designated to perform software acquisition risk management have adequate experience and training; (5) integrate software acquisition risk management activities into software acquisition planning; (6) develop a software acquisition risk management plan in accordance with a defined software acquisition process; (7) develop a documented acquisition risk management plan and conduct risk management as an integral part of the solicitation, project performance management, and contract performance management processes; (8) track and control software acquisition risk handling actions until the risks are mitigated; and (9) ensure that risk management activities are reviewed by the Authority and the project manager.

    Agency Affected: District of Columbia: District of Columbia Financial Responsibility and Management Assistance Authority

 

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