Business Modernization:

Some Progress Made toward Implementing GAO Recommendations Related to NASA's Integrated Financial Management Program

GAO-05-799R: Published: Sep 9, 2005. Publicly Released: Oct 27, 2005.

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Gregory D. Kutz
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As we and others have reported in the past, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) has fundamental problems with its financial management operations that undermine its external financial reporting ability and thwart its efforts to effectively manage and oversee its major programs. In April 2000, NASA began addressing many of its financial and management challenges through its effort to implement a new integrated financial management system, known as the Integrated Financial Management Program (IFMP), which NASA expects to complete in fiscal year 2008. However, in April and November 2003--3 years into the IFMP implementation effort and with significant investment already made in the program--we issued a series of four reports that detailed weaknesses in NASA's acquisition and implementation strategy for IFMP. Specifically, we reported that NASA had not followed key best practices for acquiring and implementing IFMP and, therefore, was at risk of making a substantial investment in a financial management system that would fall far short of its stated goal of providing meaningful, reliable, and timely information to support effective day-to-day program management and external financial reporting. As part of the four reports we issued on IFMP, we made 45 recommendations in the following areas: system component integration, enterprise architecture development and use, risk mitigation, system requirements definition, requirements management and testing, external financial reporting, and program cost and schedule control. Due to continued interest in ensuring that NASA is taking the necessary actions to successfully implement IFMP, Congress asked us to assess the extent to which NASA has adopted the recommendations we made in our April and November 2003 reports.

Since we last reported on NASA's systems modernization program, NASA's effort has been focused primarily on trying to stabilize the core financial module, the backbone of IFMP. However, more recently, NASA has begun taking steps to implement a number of our recommendations. Overall, progress has been slow--particularly with respect to establishing an enterprise architecture, which is critical for guiding and constraining NASA's investment in IFMP. However, in some other areas--such as NASA's initiative to enhance the core financial module to provide better project management information--NASA is beginning to make some progress. Of the 45 recommendations we made, NASA has closed 3 and partially implemented 13; however, 29 recommendations remain open.

Recommendation for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Not Implemented

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.

    Recommendation: Given the significance of the remaining problems with IFMP, the NASA Administrator should direct the IFMP Program Executive Officer to develop an integrated enterprise master schedule and milestones in coordination with the Office of the Chief Financial Officer, Office of the Chief Engineer, and the Program Analysis and Evaluation Office. The schedule, developed in the context of modernized business processes and improved operations, should include the improvement activities and plans already in place, dates for completion, how progress will be measured, and clear accountability for each action not completed in a timely and effective manner.

    Agency Affected: National Aeronautics and Space Administration


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