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CFO Act of 1990: Driving the Transformation of Federal Financial Management

GAO-06-242T Published: Nov 17, 2005. Publicly Released: Nov 17, 2005.
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In 1990, the Chief Financial Officers (CFO) Act, heralded as the most comprehensive financial management reform legislation in 40 years, was enacted. The Act's goal is to improve management through reliable, useful, and timely financial and performance information for day-to-day decisionmaking and accountability. This testimony outlines the legislative history of the CFO Act, and its key elements, progress to date in implementing the Act, and the challenges for the future. Prior to passage of the CFO Act, the seemingly never ending disclosures of fraud, waste, abuse, and mismanagement in federal programs painted a picture of a government unable to manage its programs, protect its assets, or provide taxpayers with the effective and economical services they expect. The enactment of the CFO Act represented a broad-based recognition that federal financial management was in great need of fundamental reform. The Act mandated a financial management leadership structure; required the preparation and audit of annual financial statements; called for modernized financial management systems and strengthened internal control; and required the systematic measurement of performance, the development of cost information, and the integration of program, budget, and financial systems.

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AccountabilityAccounting proceduresAccounting standardsFinancial managementFinancial management systemsFinancial recordsFinancial statement auditsFinancial statementsInternal controlsPerformance measuresRisk managementStrategic planning