Financial Management:

DOT's Accounting and Financial Information System Can Be Improved

RCED/AFMD-92-238: Published: Sep 22, 1992. Publicly Released: Sep 22, 1992.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed the Department of Transportation's (DOT) Departmental Accounting and Financial Information System (DAFIS), focusing on the system's: (1) status and cost; and (2) effectiveness in achieving its goals.

GAO found that: (1) goals for DAFIS include consolidation of existing accounting systems into one departmentwide system, correction of accounting disbursement weaknesses, and timely access to financial information for DOT managers and Congress for oversight purposes; (2) departmentwide DAFIS installation is behind schedule, and costs have increased from $17.6 million to $26.4 million; (3) improvements resulting from DAFIS installation include a reduction in the number of accounting systems from 14 to 7, the elimination of many district accounting offices, and the correction of many accounting weaknesses; (4) DAFIS improved DOT payment and collection capabilities and includes features ensuring on-time payments; (5) DAFIS limitations include an inability to track prior-year recoveries and accumulate cost information; (6) DAFIS does not provide adequate financial information to DOT managers and Congress for program and operational oversight; (7) DAFIS financial information limitations include problems in generating detailed spending information on long-term projects, an inability to create useful reports evaluating spending trends and payment performance oversight, and untimely financial data processing; (8) DOT retains separate automated systems to generate more timely spending information, and these separate systems cause inefficiencies and data duplication; and (9) DOT lacks an adequate strategy for creating timetables, allocating resources, removing inefficiencies, and integrating DAFIS with other subsidiary financial systems.

Recommendations for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: DOT's Chief Financial Officer and Information Resources Management Plans document the Department's strategy and objectives for addressing shortcomings with DAFIS.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Transportation should direct the DOT chief financial officer to include in DOT financial systems' improvement plans a strategy to: (1) correct shortcomings in tracking, reporting, and processing financial information; and (2) integrate DAFIS with other DOT systems that provide financial information. This detailed plan should lay out clear objectives, resource estimates, and timetables for implementing changes.

    Agency Affected: Department of Transportation

  2. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: In June 1993, DOT completed departmentwide DAFIS implementation, eliminating all systems that duplicate DAFIS fund control features. Eliminating additional systems is still possible after DAFIS is enhanced.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Transportation should report to Congress on the progress made in carrying out DOT financial systems' improvement plans.

    Agency Affected: Department of Transportation

  3. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: DOT completed its 5-year Chief Financial Officer and Information Resources Management Plan, documenting the Department's strategy for integrating DAFIS with other systems. Better integration of systems should eliminate redundant systems.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Transportation should advise Congress during the next budget submission when funds for systems that duplicate DAFIS fund control features can be eliminated.

    Agency Affected: Department of Transportation

 

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